Eat fat, lose fat
Most people would agree that each and every one of us is different. Our physical and genetic makeup determines how good we are at building muscle and losing fat. Some people have more fast-twitch fibers making them quicker over shorter distances and others have more slow-twitch fibers making them better at longer distances. Some find it easy to lose weight, some find it hard and some think that eating fat will make you fat. But I’m here to tell you the truth behind all of this.
You may be an ultrarunner, adventurer, marathon runner or a gym goer, and it stands to reason that you will probably have an innate skill for your sport and be highly motivated, but does your training diet match that? Are you eating the diet of an ‘athlete’? Imagine what your times would look like if you did.
What to eat to lose weight, tone up and perform better
There are three Macro Nutrients in the world and all food must fall in to one of them: fat, protein or carbohydrates. If you cut one out, you are depriving your body of vital sustenance to make it do the things you ask of it - like run/move/hop/skip/jump/climb.
Proteins - all flesh proteins, eggs, dairy
Fats - oil, avocado, nuts, dairy
Carbohydrates - fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
The role of good fats in a training diet
Perhaps one of the most essential roles of fat is that it repairs tissue damage. And for any athlete, tissue damage is part and parcel of the sport! So what good fats do we need?
As a runner or hiker you need the fat your body cries out for, namely saturated fats and Essential Fatty Acids (EFRs), which are fats your body cannot make. Therefore they must be included in your training diet. You will know if these good fats are working for your body and your body for you because you’ll be symptom free. By this I mean, you will not have headaches, gain or lose weight without intention, wake up in the middle of the night to urinate, over exercise, or have a decreased sex drive.
The importance of rest and repair during endurance training
Over time, endurance training can deplete the levels of cortisol in the body and become as stressful as having to pay the school loans or the mortgage if your body/bank account is in short supply. If you are not feeling it, then change the exercise you do to something more parasympathetic and therefore less stressful on your body like strength training, cross training, a sports massage or a walk in nature.
While it’s true if you eat (good) fat you’ll lose fat, you must build in repair time into your exercise program. You lose weight when you sleep and when you repair. Otherwise you ask too much of your body and it will store excess fat as a protective measure because it spends too much time in a sympathetic state.
So if you’re fighting weight used to be a lot lower than it is now and you think or feel you are fitter now than then, what has changed? Well I ask you, what haven’t you changed? The facts are that you’re probably older, no doubt have more responsibility, a mortgage, some children, a more demanding job, etc.
But the problem is that your training diet and lifestyle didn’t change at the same time to support you in the way they should have. When your stress load increases, you tend to start eating foods that make you happy, like grains, carbs and sugar! So if your diet looks higher in omega 6 (grains, carbohydrates, pasta and cereal) than omega 3’s (good fats like salmon or other oily fish, eggs or protein) this could be the problem. You may need to eat a bit more fat to lose fat.
What works for one person does not necessarily work for another. Your body or “engine” is different from the next. Just like there is not one fuel for one car, there is not one right diet for everyone. Metabolic typing allows you to find your perfect fuel mix for your body type. It helps you reverse and prevent disease, find your ideal weight, improve your mental clarity and memory all by eating right for your type. Get ‘typed’ now so you can be the best version of you.
Eating to lose weight
It may seem counterintuitive to eat fat to lose weight, but the key is to maintain a proper balance of healthy foods in your training diet and give your body the rest it needs. Whether you’re working out to lose a few pounds or to get lean for your next race, it’s important to keep your body in balance. So look for ways to add good fats like avocados, nuts, fish, eggs and more into your training diet to trim down and repair muscle. And don’t forget to give yourself a break and get a good night’s sleep!