The text that came through from my highly educated nutritionist friend yesterday as I asked her the question “carbs or fats for running fuel.“Her response was something to the tune of, “you’re not fat adapted and so you can’t use that fuel for energy during your run.”
There is a whole lot of information out there regarding fats and carbs and what’s right for whom. Should you use a LC/HF diet for weight loss and/or is it good for endurance training? Should you rely on glucose and have a higher carb diet? Or should you STFU and pay attention to the feedback your body is giving you and stop paying so much attention to the world wide web, the books, the blogs, and the “experts” in the industry who toss around science, studies, and of course, their “un”biased opinions on the matter. I say this because I too have been judgmental on the subject and have been made painfully aware both in my personal experience with dieting and with those I’ve worked with and have in my personal life…….diet is a choice. And if we are free to choose our religion, our politics, and how we walk this earth, then we are free to eat what we choose within the time period we are here regardless of what others say……no matter how solid their science may be.
For years I have gone back and forth between higher fats and higher carbs regarding how I workout/train, how I was physically feeling regarding digestion and autoimmunity, or based on what others in the same arena are doing……not in a real way paying attention to the feedback loop my body is giving me. We are bombarded with the most insane information out there that is truly cutting edge but rarely, if ever, sticks. Diets simply do not work. And I’ve come to my own personal belief system that they are not supposed to work. They are designed to literally have us go crazy so that we can fall in to the hands of an expert. Really now, it doesn’t have to be that complicated. And if you stick to the basic premise of Michael Pollens quote, “Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants,” you simply cannot go wrong. You see, mother nature has this all figured out for us already. We are not supposed to step on her toes and interfere with nature. We spend way too much time trying to reinvent the wheel when, as it turns out, cars drive perfectly well with their circular motion. Pretty much every well intended valid dietary regime out there is based on wholefoods. And if it isn’t, well those are the ones you ought to steer clear of. So it doesn’t really matter what program you follow…..paleo, keto, LCHF, macrobiotic, veganism, vegetarianism, IIFYM, food combining, intermittent fasting. Whatever it is that you follow, if you take the components of that program, make it wholefoods, tweak it to suit your lifestyle, body composition, health conditions, and fitness goals, you win every time. This happens by tuning and tapping in to the biofeedback your body is giving you and truly connecting with how your body is feeling. This in turn allows you to adjust the components whether it be the macros, calories (which by the way, if you’re following a macro based diet, you’re still counting calories—-don’t fool yourself), or the food itself (grains, dairy, eggs, etc) You get the point.
Through my years of working in nutrition, I have found that we are our own best experts. And each and every time, by listening intently on the messages our bodies are giving us, we will have the answers at our finger tips…..or on the end of our fork. Yes, we all need guidance. I have a coach who helps me. I have friends who are educated and trained in nutrition and exercise physiology who help me work through the nooks and crannies when it comes to the subjects I’m not clear on. But really the answers they give send me back to the basics…. “Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants.” Basically…..Just Eat!!
We need all macro nutrients. But we don’t always need all the macro nutrients all the time at all the meals. There’s nothing wrong with having a lower fat meal anymore than there is anything wrong with having a lower/no carb meal. If your system is feeling bogged down, backed up, or heavy, you certainly don’t need to load up on a bowl of oatmeal or rice to add insult to injury. However, if you’re going out to do an intense workout or a long run, those carbs might come in handy.
Keep it simple. Know your body. Play with your food. And eat according to what works best for you. For years I was gluten free and never felt any better for it. I recently added back some sprouted grain Ezekiel bread, which happens to have gluten in it, and I feel amazing on it. In fact, if anything, I feel a lot better. Does this mean I will be eating gluten at every meal? Heck No!!! I have no interest in making radical changes in my diet. Only to listen to the feedback, pay attention, and ever so gently make changes as the need be. Variety is not really my thing as I tend to stick with what I know works, but within that window it’s nice to have options.
Do You Run???? What’s your food/fuel of choice?
Do you go lower carb and higher fats?
Do you intermittent fast and eat post training?
Or do you just listen to your body and allow what your gut is telling you?