3

votes

Train to live, not live to train - eating plans for an unpredictable lifestyle

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 11, 2012 at 2:57 PM

I've experimented with a variety of dietary changes over the last several years to address specific health problems, and I've finally conquered enough of those to really start honing in on my fitness and athleticism.

Over the last several months my activity level has increased dramatically beyond any level it's been at before. I try to do a weight training session once or twice a week, doing body weight exercises and using small dumbells I have at home. I bike a lot - commuting to work daily, and mountain biking or hill climbing usually 2-3 times per week. I have a very active job, on my feet all day and often lifting and carrying moderately heavy stuff for 40-50 hours a week. I take a lot of yoga classes. Sometimes I hike.

The increase in activity has really made me take notice of the fact that I need to pay closer attention to my macronutrient ratios. It also has me thinking and reading a lot about fat adapting, because I feel too dependent on carbs to fuel my activity level.

The problem is, I have a very unpredictable schedule and lifestyle. My work schedule changes constantly. I often get an impromptu let's-hop-on-our-bikes-and-crush-it-up-this-gnarly-hill phone call. I can't always plan when I'll have my meals.

I've been experimenting with my macronutrient ratios, going pretty moderate carb lately. I've also been doing some intermittent fasting. I've done both of these before with success, but not while trying to sustain the kind of activities I'm doing now.

I've been having a lot of moments in which, for example, after a few days of keeping my carbs low and my exercise sessions in the fat-burning zone, I get one of those phone calls and try to go for a heart-pumping bike ride. And fail miserably.

Probably I would benefit from a more scheduled and calculated approach to matching my diet and exercise, but I'm training to live, not living to train. I'm finding it far too complicated to try to predict my dietary needs and eat appropriately in advance.

It seems funny though - it's not like our primal ancestors could plan their activity levels and nutrient needs. Anyone have any advice here?

E565e11cf32b38ab1f45086c1e0205f7

(613)

on September 12, 2012
at 04:01 PM

Haha @ foreveryoung. Thanks for that. A lot of commentary here does inspire fear about carbs. I think I'll have some and try again for the bike ride I had to bail out of two days ago.

E565e11cf32b38ab1f45086c1e0205f7

(613)

on September 12, 2012
at 03:51 PM

POST. Sorry. I was thinking about PRE because my problem is that I'm not really making it through some workouts. Could be related to what foreveryoung is talking about, though. I'm not eating that much protein.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 12, 2012
at 03:41 PM

@ carly- miked said PRE workout, but also, there is a lot of misguided fear mongering about consuming carbs pre workout and insulin blunting fat burning. Truth be told, unless you're doing endurance training, the majority of fat is burned POST workout and as a result of improving body composition. If a little carbs pre workout gives you more energy to push harder in your workouts, then you'll get better results over the long run, and burn more fat during the hours you're not working out. In short, the carbs pre workout is a red-herring.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 12, 2012
at 03:38 PM

do not have a history of binge-eating, then your insulin sensitivity is most likely still intact, so you shouldn't worry. Try making sure you're getting in enough (but not too much) protein.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 12, 2012
at 03:37 PM

^ Carly, here are my thoughts. First, you may be eating too little protein. If I don't eat enough protein, I feel run down more so than if I do not eat enough carbs...unless it is post workout, in which case I feel I need carbs and do not recover without them. Try eating 0.7-1.5 grams of protein/lb of bodyweight. That's what I do. Also, you may be feeling run down despite eating carbs post workout because you're not actually replenishing your muscle glycogen. This would be a sign of insulin resistance. If you are at a healthy (or close to it) bodyweight and...

510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20888)

on September 12, 2012
at 02:53 PM

I said POST workout, not PRE workout.

E565e11cf32b38ab1f45086c1e0205f7

(613)

on September 12, 2012
at 01:58 PM

I've done this with success, but lately I've been reading attacks on the concept of carbing up right before a workout. Doesn't the raise in insulin ultimately harm athletic performance? Isn't this counter productive to fat adaptation?

E565e11cf32b38ab1f45086c1e0205f7

(613)

on September 12, 2012
at 01:56 PM

This is more or less what I've been doing without success. Maybe I'm not eating enough carbs post workouts, or I should be eating carbs after work (which is often like a low intensity workout). Or I'm not fat adapted. At this level of carb intake though, I crash and burn quickly in a high intensity workout... or often crash and burn gradually if I do a low intensity workout on a workday.

Medium avatar

(2169)

on September 11, 2012
at 07:17 PM

I am in a similar situation (adventure guide) so I'm stoked you asked this!

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on September 11, 2012
at 04:49 PM

mike this is exactly what i have done and it works great

7278560e76901ded4081022b54c6e165

on September 11, 2012
at 04:47 PM

I find for me big lunches work with light suppers and medium to large breakfasts

7278560e76901ded4081022b54c6e165

on September 11, 2012
at 03:07 PM

Same spot as you would love to see some good replies to this!

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3 Answers

3
510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20888)

on September 11, 2012
at 03:25 PM

If I were in this situation, I'd start every day off with a good big protein and fat filled breakfast. This way I'm starting the day off fueled well.

It's fine that your workouts/activities are random and unpredictable throughout the day. If you do something pretty intense have some immediate carbs post workout to replenish glycogen. No need to plan that, just have them if and only if you do a hard workout (as close to PWO as you can, the better).

Then finish you day with a dinner to satiety.

The big breakfast and dinner will keep you fueled properly and keep enough energy going in. The PWO carb load will supplement on the days you do the activity and if they're sized proportionally to the effort, you won't run out of energy.

You don't need to worry about getting certain macronutrients at EVERY meal. Your body is good at handling cyclic nutrient loading, so just make sure you replenish what you use up. No need to plan ahead.

7278560e76901ded4081022b54c6e165

on September 11, 2012
at 04:47 PM

I find for me big lunches work with light suppers and medium to large breakfasts

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on September 11, 2012
at 04:49 PM

mike this is exactly what i have done and it works great

E565e11cf32b38ab1f45086c1e0205f7

(613)

on September 12, 2012
at 04:01 PM

Haha @ foreveryoung. Thanks for that. A lot of commentary here does inspire fear about carbs. I think I'll have some and try again for the bike ride I had to bail out of two days ago.

E565e11cf32b38ab1f45086c1e0205f7

(613)

on September 12, 2012
at 01:58 PM

I've done this with success, but lately I've been reading attacks on the concept of carbing up right before a workout. Doesn't the raise in insulin ultimately harm athletic performance? Isn't this counter productive to fat adaptation?

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 12, 2012
at 03:41 PM

@ carly- miked said PRE workout, but also, there is a lot of misguided fear mongering about consuming carbs pre workout and insulin blunting fat burning. Truth be told, unless you're doing endurance training, the majority of fat is burned POST workout and as a result of improving body composition. If a little carbs pre workout gives you more energy to push harder in your workouts, then you'll get better results over the long run, and burn more fat during the hours you're not working out. In short, the carbs pre workout is a red-herring.

E565e11cf32b38ab1f45086c1e0205f7

(613)

on September 12, 2012
at 03:51 PM

POST. Sorry. I was thinking about PRE because my problem is that I'm not really making it through some workouts. Could be related to what foreveryoung is talking about, though. I'm not eating that much protein.

510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20888)

on September 12, 2012
at 02:53 PM

I said POST workout, not PRE workout.

1
1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

on September 11, 2012
at 06:52 PM

  1. make protein the center of every meal.

  2. All meals: include non-starchy vegetables (salads).

  3. Any meal not in the workout window (2.5 hours pre and 2.5 hours post): protein + non-starchy vegetable(s) + fat source

  4. Any meal within 2.5 hours pre workout: protein + non-starchy vegetable (Keep fat low because it interferes with vasodilation by diminishing NO production and takes longer to digest, which has the effect of diminishing blood flow to the working muscles).

  5. All meals within 2 hours post workout: protein + starchy carb and/or fruit. Keep fat lower here, for the same reasons mentioned on number. (you don't need to include a non-starchy vegetable here if you do not wish so). **If workout was low/moderate intensity for longer duration, choose fruit. If workout was high intensity for shorter durations (glycolytic, like weight lifting in higher volumes or sprint repeats) then choose starch. If both glycolytic and fat burning, then choose both.

***Best to take water soluble supplements directly pre-workout, or with your post workout meal. Best to take fat soluble supplements with the meal that fits criteria for number 3.

There you have it, the 5 nutrition rules to live by.

E565e11cf32b38ab1f45086c1e0205f7

(613)

on September 12, 2012
at 01:56 PM

This is more or less what I've been doing without success. Maybe I'm not eating enough carbs post workouts, or I should be eating carbs after work (which is often like a low intensity workout). Or I'm not fat adapted. At this level of carb intake though, I crash and burn quickly in a high intensity workout... or often crash and burn gradually if I do a low intensity workout on a workday.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 12, 2012
at 03:37 PM

^ Carly, here are my thoughts. First, you may be eating too little protein. If I don't eat enough protein, I feel run down more so than if I do not eat enough carbs...unless it is post workout, in which case I feel I need carbs and do not recover without them. Try eating 0.7-1.5 grams of protein/lb of bodyweight. That's what I do. Also, you may be feeling run down despite eating carbs post workout because you're not actually replenishing your muscle glycogen. This would be a sign of insulin resistance. If you are at a healthy (or close to it) bodyweight and...

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 12, 2012
at 03:38 PM

do not have a history of binge-eating, then your insulin sensitivity is most likely still intact, so you shouldn't worry. Try making sure you're getting in enough (but not too much) protein.

0
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on September 11, 2012
at 05:36 PM

If you wanna train to live rather than live to train look into HIT....there is a book called Body By Science that is an excellent place to start.

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