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Eat For Your Goals [Performance]

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Have you ever heard someone say they're "carb loading" prior to an event? Then they proceed to eat a huge bowl of pasta or pizza, even?

 

Carb Loading IS an effective pre-competition dietary strategy, but it's not usually done correctly.

 

I'll explain what it means to Eat For Performance, and how/when/why one might choose to "carb load."

 

When we talk about "performance" we're talking about athletic performance, but you don't have to play a specific sport to want to perform well. 

 

Good Performance basically means that you're able to do what you want to do when you want to do it.

 

Solid performers aren't over-tired, too weak, lethargic, too slow, too sore.

 

Solid performers reliably have enough energy, enough desire & drive, enough stamina, and enough capacity to do "work." Whatever that "work" might be. 

 

When you eat for performance, you aren't trying to lose fat. (NOTE: you might actually lose fat, depending on your starting point, but it isn't your primary goal)

 

To eat for performance, you'll need to do these things:

  • Eat at caloric maintenance (not in a deficit, not in a surplus)
  • Hit your protein minimums (about 0.8-1.0 g per pound of lean mass)
  • Include appropriate quantities of quality carbohydrates (1 fist-sized portion per meal for women, 2 fist-sized portions for men)
  • Include colorful vegetables & fruits.
  • Drink plenty of water (starting guidelines: divide your bodyweight in half and drink that daily in ounces). Read our post for more details on this.
  • Avoid excess alcohol, excess fats, excess sugar. (notice I didn't say to avoid them completely -- I mean, you CAN, but as long as you minimize them in your diet, then you should be okay -- unless you're seriously competing for something, but most of us aren't.)

Eating for performance, could really be considered the true balanced diet and a great way to eat on a regular basis!

 

NOW WHAT ABOUT CARB LOADING?

 

Bodybuilders and endurance athletes are generally the main people who would carb load before an event. But few seem to know how to do it correctly.

 

The purpose of carb loading is to fill your muscles with stored carbs as much as possible. Think of it as "topping off" the gas tank. Our muscles readily use the carbs stored there (glycogen) during the event -- for bodybuilders, it means their muscles look full and round. 

 

HERE'S HOW TO DO IT RIGHT:

 

One week before event: the athlete eliminates carbs almost entirely from their diet for 3-4 days. Eating only proteins and fats. And continuing with their regular training regimen.

 

Doing this depletes their body of all glycogen stores. That leads to increased insulin sensitivity (a good thing) because the body NEEDS and WANTS more carbs as soon as they're reintroduced. 

 

Three days before event: The athlete reintroduces carbs and a LOT of them into their diet along with increased water intake. Protein is still vital while fat intake is decreased. Their training tapers off or is paused in preparation for the event. 

 

On the day of the event, the athlete now has FULL capacity of their muscle glycogen, which is the main source of fast energy for muscles, and in the case of bodybuilders, it's what makes the muscles POP on stage.

Show up. Communicate. Trust the process.

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