Fueling your body properly plays such a large role in your training, whether you are working toward your first 5k or building up endurance to tackle an Ironman. Sometimes, making good choices and eating healthy doesn’t seem to do it and we need a little more help. I noticed that as my mileage started to build up more that I didn’t have the energy I needed to get through my workouts the way I wanted to. I was carrying some extra pounds, not sleeping as well as I should have been, and my training was starting to suffer.
So, I started looking into nutrition and made the decision to work with a registered dietitian. My original goal was to drop a few pounds, clean up my diet, and work on getting some energy back. It was the best decision I ever made (keep reading to see the results). I wanted to share some thoughts from my 12 week experience that may help you decide if taking your nutrition to the next level is right for you!
Note: I am not a registered dietitian, this is just my personal experience after 12 weeks of macro tracking.
Everyone is unique and responds best to different levels of support. Some friends of mine are the type that can be given a calorie goal, or macro goal, and run with it. Unfortunately, I am not that person and do best with at least some level of guidance. I decided to work with a registered dietitian that would do weekly check-ins, was available to answer questions whenever I needed them, and would adjust my macros on a weekly basis based on how I felt and was performing in my workouts. The beauty of nutritional programs is that there are so many options out there that you can find the perfect fit for you. Do you want accountability? A facebook support group? Do you feel like you need more frequent adjustments because your training schedule varies or is rapidly ramping up in hours or intensity? Or do you want someone to set a goal for you and let you do your own thing with a more hands off approach?
Calories vs Macros
Another question to ask yourself is if you want to track calories or macros. I decided to track macros, aiming for a certain number of carbs, protein, and fat each day (I also got bonus carbs, protein, and fat anytime my training took me over an hour!). I knew I needed enough carbs to fuel my workouts and the right balance of fat and protein to help sustain my muscles. Eating 100 calories worth of chicken breast or fish will not have the same effect on your body as eating 100 calories worth of ice cream. Eating 100g of protein will not fuel my body in the same way that eating 100g of carbs would. This is just my personal opinion, but if you are a serious athlete thinking about taking the next step - look into macros!
I want to be completely upfront when I say that tracking macros, or even calories if that’s the direction you take, takes extra planning and time. It can be overwhelming at first creating well balanced meals that hit a certain carb, protein, and fat goal each day. There are apps and websites out there (MyFitnesspal is one of the free ones) that makes this process much easier, but if you skip the planning phase and plug in items as you go throughout your day it is going to be almost impossible to meet those macro goals (trust me, I’ve tried!). I think I spent several hours the first week trying to get everything planned out, then still had to go grocery shopping and prep the food. I will say though, it gets easier. Much easier. Many nutrition programs have some sort of facebook support group - use them! I spend an hour now, tops, planning out all of the meals for the entire week for both myself and my husband (usually while watching TV), and we have two completely different macro goals.
The program you decide to do and the level of support you need will help dictate what the cost will be. I have seen prices anywhere from $20 for one time macro numbers to over $1,000 for daily support. You may find that your grocery bill goes up, but you start spending significantly less money eating out. I saw this as an investment to my health and the money we saved eating out every weekend covered the cost of the program we did. There are a lot of options out there to fit your needs.
So was it worth it? YES! I’ve officially completely my first round (12 weeks) and I can not emphasize enough how glad I am that I decided to take this step to improving my training and health three months ago. I have lost 15 lbs, roughly 15 inches, and just shy of 4% body fat. I am sleeping better and in general am more energized than I was before. My running and biking has improved as well during this three month period: I have more energy for my workouts and found that I can sustain harder paces for longer, although they don’t seem so hard anymore! Taking my nutrition to the next level absolutely helped me take my training to the next level.
Written By: Amanda Godshaw, Tri Sirena Siren Luminary
Follow Amanda on Instagram @amandagodshaw
What results have you experienced after making nutrition a priority? Tell us in the comments below!