Fat adaptation for athletic performance

Whether your concern is body composition, recovery, power production, or workout/race fueling, it is always best to work with a specialist in the field. Three weeks ago, Startline Coaching athletes attended an athlete nutrition and fueling webinar with Nicci Schock of Elevate Performance Services. The session provided a grounding in the fueling requirements of athletes in the context of day to day nutritional practices, with a focus on training your body to call upon fat as the principal energy source rather than carbohydrates (CHO).

As a coach, I also work increasingly with athletes that are vegan or vegetarian. Dietary practices are more varied as athletes seek healthier practices. The vegan & vegetarian diet, while very healthy, can be limiting to the performance of athletes if not well managed and supplemented.

Daily nutrition:

  • Controls your metabolism during rest & during exercise
  • Influences energy pathway development (fat vs CHO burning)
  • Sets the stage for how well your race fuel will work for you
  • Is a performance differentiator for endurance events

Every athlete should include healthy fat, proteins & fiber into every meal, where fiber is the carbohydrate component consisting of fruits & vegetables. For vegan & vegetarian athletes, ensuring adequate protein in their diet can be a challenge. Constant care must be taken. Lack of protein increases dependence upon CHO burning energy pathways, rather than fat burning energy pathways, and reduces potential for lean muscle mass development, both of which significantly impact training & racing performance. In addition, plant proteins do not meet the full protein needs of athletes. Specific protein supplementation is required esp. during periods of high workload.

In training, fueling is not always required and can be counter productive. Aerobic exercise of moderate intensity up to 120 minutes requires no material fueling beyond a low CHO electrolyte drink. High intensity exercise up to 90 minutes requires no material fueling either beyond a low CHO electrolyte drink. Not every training bout is a race. Know the purpose of the workout. Use lower intensity training to develop fat burning energy pathways. Restrict the use of high glycemic carbohydrate energy products to race simulation or race efforts.

The topic is complex and each athlete’s needs are specific. A one on one consultation is recommended for anyone who struggles with race fueling, GI distress, workout recovery, or is competing as a vegan or vegetarian athlete. #startline athletes receive discounted rates for #elevate services.

  1. Blood Monitoring for Performance
  2. Sports Nutrition
  3. Sweat Sodium Testing
  4. Metabolic Efficiency Testing
  5. Genomic Testing
  6. Mindset Training

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