Snacking for athletes


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I'm on day 3 of the Whole30.  Overall, I feel great.  No real issues. I've been able to easily avoid temptations.  But, I'm wondering if I am staying true to the plan because I have been snacking. But, I almost feel like I have to in order to maintain my energy level.

A typical day for me:

 

Wake up around 4:00 and either run (6-10 miles on weekdays, 18-25 miles on weekends) or hit the gym for strength training and cycling.

Eat breakfast once I get to work at 8:00

Snack around 10:30, nuts and fruit

45 mins of cardio and strength training during my "lunch" break

Eat lunch around 1:30 when I get back to work

Snack around 4:00, nuts and fruit

After work is 1-2 hours of Mountain biking or walking/running bleachers with a weighted backpack

Dinner around 8:00

Bed by 10:30/11

Last night I woke up around 1am starved.  So I ate a 100cal pack of almonds and walnuts.

 

I know for the plan you are supposed to stick to 3 meals, but I feel like I would be out of energy by the time I get to my workouts and/or activities.  Not sure if being so active makes a difference or if I need to attempt to get over it and eat 3 meals and let my body readjust.

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Guest Andria

Have you read the rules and meal template guidelines? If you are hungry you should be eating a mini- meal of protein, fat and carb/veg and definitely not snacks of fruit and nuts.

http://whole30.com/downloads/whole30-meal-planning.pdf

Am I understanding correctly that you are exercising HEAVILY three times per day??? Are you a professional athlete? Why are you exercising so excessively? We would need more information on your actual meals to give you input, but you are likely not eating enough if you are finding the need to snack. You probably need to eat a significant amount of starchy carbs with all the exercise, as well.

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If you look at the meal template linked above, you will see pre and post workout meals.  They are in addition to your other meals.  They aren't "snacks" but fuel for your workouts.

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For your level of activity, 4 or 5 meals per day would be ok.  The snacks of fruit & nuts are really not ok.  Nuts on a Whole 30 are considered FAT, as the protein in them is not a complete protein -- they do not contain all of the essential amino acids.  So you are eating fat & sugar for these snacks.  That is definitely not ideal.

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As Nico states above, there are recommendations for pre- and post-Workout food that should help. 

 

That said, I'm wondering about your goals and your intent with this volume of exercise. Your current routine only allows for 5 hours of sleep, which is not enough. The majority of people do best on 7-8 hours of sleep, and most professional athletes sleep even more to ensure adequate recovery.

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Your body doesn't change and grow during exercise, it does during recovery.  And it looks like you have basically zero recovery.  Sleep more, exercise less. Chronic cardio isn't doing your body any favors.  As for fuel, it's okay to eat more when you're following the guidelines.  Make sure each of your meals is large enough so you're full after eating, and eat your pre and post workout meals. Why are you running a marathon every weekend? That's a huge volume for your body to handle.  Let your body rest and recover!!

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I am currently training for a 100-miler in December.  I also have 1-60K, 2-50milers, and a handful of other races before December.  The running schedule is set by my trainer.  I add in strength training and some other training for fun and also for other activities.  I also have 2 GoRuck challenges and 2 Spartan races before the end of the year. Mountain biking is purely for my own enjoyment.  

 

I do take Mondays off, so have a recovery day.  I know the amount of exercise is more than most do, but for me, it is a lifestyle.  I don't exercise to lose weight, I do it for training.  

 

I did somehow miss the pre and post workout meals.  I'm checking into this now.

 

Thank you all for your feedback.  I know eating correctly is the most important part of an athlete's life.

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My personal rule is that I do not train if I have not slept at least 7 hours the night before. If you are getting less than 7 hours of sleep, you would achieve more improvement of your physical capacity from sleeping than from training. 

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I will definitely work on the sleeping habits.  I always have the best intentions for getting to bed by 8:30 or 9, but then get caught up in laundry or housework or whatever else.  I will make a bigger effort though.  When I feel myself starting to get tired, I cut back on the training for sure.  I'll take an hour nap instead of work out at lunch or rest more.  

 

I should emphasize that just because I mapped out a typical day does not mean that is every single day.  On weekends, I only run.  And usually get a nap and to bed earlier.  During the week if I am feeling drained, I make sure to cut back some.  But I function fine for the most part on the sleep I get.

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Crystal,

  I don't know who your trainer is, and I am not one - but your schedule is worrisome. You are doing an awful lot of working out. Three times a day is really too much training especially if one of those workouts is high intensity.

 

Maybe you are training to win, but in any case please familiarize yourself with the symptoms and stages of Overtraining Syndrome so you will know what to be on the lookout for if you fall prey to it. Catching it in the early stages is the difference between recovering in a few weeks and not being able to run/workout for months.

 

Overtraining Syndrome - (three part article on irunfar.com)

Phil Maffetone on Overtraining Syndrome

 

One more thing - you should expect some low energy and lackluster workouts in the first 1-2 weeks, cutting back and taking it easy were the only things that helped for me.

 

Wishing you the best.

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Thank you all for the information.  I will discuss these things with my trainer and determine if I need to add more rest.  I really feel great.  I am doing the program to initiate a healthier eating lifestyle. I got into the bad habits of grabbing anything and everything to sustain calories and picked up a really nasty processed food, sugar, and junk habit.  I am now towards the end of Day 4 without any feelings of fatigue.  I've had a few sugar cravings, but have been able to easily squash them.  I think my major obstacle will come this weekend when I have to stay away from beer!

 

I really do appreciate all of the input and will look carefully into the suggested reads.  I am the first to admit that there are many things I could be doing wrong and would never argue that!

 

I do know that while I am nowhere near the athlete that some are, there are many that follow similar plans.  Dean Karnazes, for instance, also only sleeps 4-5 hours a night and averages 40 miles per week.  I do think some people are built differently and do not require the same amount of sleep and rest.  

 

Again, I will carefully look into all of these ideas and will most likely make some minor tweeks to see if I feel better or worse.  Thank you all!

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Hi Crystal,

 

Your training looks like mine sometimes with multiple workouts a day. I understand the need for the "on your feet" time and see a benefit to being able to function while short on sleep for the 100 miler, but also agree with the need for sleep and recovery as discussed above. So I'll focus on your fueling questions. I too used to reach for anything I could to get energy and made bad choices. Once I 'cleaned up' a few years ago I found that good foods improved my recovery. Once I better understood how fueling could help my training and recovery, I was able to plan a more strategic approach instead of being random. So while I usually warn against radical nutrition changes on top of a big training goal, it sounds like you are on a clean up track and not the weight loss one. 

 

When I have multiples in one day, I have to vary from the Whole30 3 meals a day template or I don't get enough food to recover between workouts. But I still do template-like meals as best I can. I don't do fruit & nuts snacking. Yes, it's energy, but not what your body needs. Maybe save those for in-training fuels?

 

I prepare mini meals of easy to digest foods instead. Protein from soft cooked eggs, starches from mashed/pureed starchy veggies, a piece of fruit, and avoid fiber-filled foods that don't digest quick for you. Fats are needed too, but they can be a challenge since they can sit heavy in the stomach. I add more fats to my main meals that are 2-3 hrs away from a training session. My goal is to refuel but be ready to go again. 

 

It takes some experimenting to find what works, the above foods work for and appeal to me. Day 3 is early, so you have lots of time for testing. And your training discipline will be helpful with fighting the cravings, just don't let it take you off the over-training cliff. I speak from personal experience!! Good luck with the training and let us know how it goes!

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When I have multiples in one day, I have to vary from the Whole30 3 meals a day template or I don't get enough food to recover between workouts. 

 

Hey Lucie- Thanks for your comment, it is so great to have someone weigh in who has direct similar experience, and it sounds like you found something that works for you.

 

I do want to point out though, that eating more food surrounding hard workouts is NOT off plan at all! The meal template specifically includes pre- and post-WO food in addition to those three meals. If you do three or more hard workouts in one day, the template would have you eating more on each of those occasions. If you are interested in trying it, a small portion of protein and fat pre-workout (no carbs), a larger portion of protein with optional carbs (no fat) post-workout, is the recommendation. Fruit isn't recommend for any of these, because of the way fructose is digested (you can still enjoy fruit with other meals during the day if you wish).

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