Apex Nutrition Boot Camp - Week 2

Week 2 – Performance Nutrition – Give your body the nutrients it needs for optimal Performance (Training, Racing, Adventures), and Recovery

Week 2 Contents (click to jump down):

Day 1:

Quote of the Week: To hell with circumstances. I create opportunities. -Bruce Lee

Man oh man, I love this quote. I love that it reminds me that every workout, training, race, and adventure, I have an opportunity. And, in that opportunity, I can choose to do the things that keep me healthy, help me feel great, and help me to continue to make progress in my sport – to perform better and better. Sure, it’s easier to not think of performance nutrition. Or, to save it only for a race. But we all know that we get better in training. And when you train well, you improve, and your results show it.

I get it – we’re busy, we’re stressed, and fueling can feel like an impedance to just getting out there. I will do my best to help you know the times you need it and when you don’t, to make it easily affordable, and hopefully, by the end of camp, 2nd nature.

I’m not one for excuses. Opportunities abound!

Today’s Tools:

If you’re gonna buy into my recommendations for training nutrition, you’ve got to believe that your body needs nutrients for optimal performance, or none of the pre-training, during training, and recovery recommendations will really mean anything to you.

Here are the basis for my recommendations and today’s tools:

1. IF you’re training/racing more than 60 minutes, you can improve your performance with adequate training nutrition (fluids, hydration, and carbohydrates). There is some gray area here.

I recommend training nutrition for >90 minutes for most athletes, simply because the benefits don’t always outweigh the cost (the logistics and weight for carrying) for less time than this.

If you’re a very well-trained athlete, you can often get away with no training nutrition (carbs) for up to 2 hours without detriment.

HOWEVER, if you’re training/racing in summer weather (hot and/or humid), you can almost always benefit from fluids & electrolytes.

2. Your body, at the cellular level, changes during activity vs. sedentary time. This is simply a fact. Specifically, your body does not require the insulin required to “process carbs” when you’re active vs. when you’re sedentary.

This is HUGELY important.

When I see different media outlets bashing carbs for athletes in all aspects, I cringe. They simply aren’t looking at the physiology. Your cells change. When sedentary, this need for extra insulin *is* detrimental to your body – plain and simple.

This is why last week we harped on and discussed moderately low-carb eating and the omission of all the processed sugars and carbs throughout every day (non-training) nutrition. Remember?

When active, your body is able to metabolize and use the carbs without the extra insulin, so there is no detriment, and there is a benefit – carbs are a great fuel source for your body and brain. They are your body’s preferred fuel, especially at high VO2 maxes. Also, carbs seem to be necessary for optimal fueling at higher altitudes.

In my opinion, it’s the better philosophy for fueling (if it wasn’t I wouldn’t teach it). If you personally prefer to train/perform in a fat-adapted, low-carb, or keto, state, we will simply have our differences in this aspect.

Also, it’s not just carbs. I wouldn’t recommend 600-1000 mg sodium per hour intake in a sedentary state. But, when you step back, think through the physiology, and realize that your body is losing sodium through sweat, you change the way you fuel. My video on the subject:

  1. Or, check it out on YouTube: https://youtu.be/kIjO45_vwLY
  2. Because your body is different in an active vs. sedentary states, the foundation of my meal planning is separating Daily Nutrition from Training Nutrition – we plan them separately, think about them separately, and consume them separately. My video on the subject:

 

 

Or, watch this video in YouTube: https://youtu.be/XhyraDyp7sI

4. Although I’m not against training/workouts in a fasted state (<= 2 hours as stated above in #1), I don’t think this is the best strategy for fat loss.

I know, I know, you’ve heard or read that you oxidize more fat in a fasted state. But does this = meaning fat/pound loss. No. In fact, it’s usually a double whammy.

First, an athlete doesn’t feel nearly as good as he/she could if training in a fueled stated. They don’t often see the performance gains they’d see with proper fueling.

Second, they are usually starving later in the day, which either leads to binging (and therefore no weight loss, or worse, weight gain), or just bad moods, poor sleep,  etc. due to hunger.

I can’t even count the number of times I worked with an athlete to simply add more daytime nutrition, add fueling, and then “lighten up at night” (because they are no longer starving) and they see weight loss AND improved performance. My video on the subject:

 

 

Or, check it out on YouTube: https://youtu.be/Zjmq_8p3iMQ

5. Even when discussing Training Fuel and different philosophies, I’m doing my best to look out for clients’ whole-body health.

If overweight, we’re looking to get to a healthy weight. If shooting for race weight, we’re making sure the body is still getting everything it needs. There’s not always clear research and conclusive science, but I teach what I know to be great for both overall wellness & performance.

For aging well, brain health, heart health, thyroid and hormone health, etc. I’m also hoping to teach an eating philosophy that can work within family dynamics, and stick for life.

Today’s Challenge:

After reading through the above, if there are any points that don’t resonate with you, I recommend watching the videos or asking questions on the forum. Although I know we won’t necessarily all be on the same page, I believe having an understanding of the goals of fueling, AND of the benefits/disadvantages of different approaches is KEY this week.

I hope you’re ready to dive into the numbers, the nitty-gritty of performance nutrition starting tomorrow. As much as I resist thinking of food as numbers in Daily Nutrition, it’s necessary & helpful in Training. We’ll still use plenty of whole foods (as well as some “engineered fuel” options), but will think of, and even calculate, fluid volumes, carbs, sodium and electrolytes, amino acids and more.

Ready?

Alright – that wraps up day one! We’ll keep going hard the rest of the week & set some “habit” goals towards the end.

(Click here to head back to the Boot Camp HOMEPAGE)

 

Day 2:

Quote of the Week: To hell with circumstances. I create opportunities. -Bruce Lee

Today’s Tools:

First, I’m hoping you worked through all (or some) of the videos yesterday so we’re on the same page moving forward. If not, I’m keeping it pretty light on content today, so go back and catch up if needed.

Second, here’s my short video of the basics of Training Nutrition: Before, During, & Recovery.

 

 

(Click here to view in YouTube: https://youtu.be/EeCjYcQBhSA)

Third, we’ve got a written down, realistic & flexible training fuel plan. Click on the link below to download the Apex Nutrition Fueling Plan. It has Pre-Training, During Training, & Recovery examples using many real, whole foods, and some engineered foods. It includes many of my most popular Fuel Right Blog training fuel recipes. Then, starting on page 7, you can read through the details of why I recommend the training fuel I recommend.

Training Nutrition Plan – Apex Nutrition

Fourth, just a note for anyone NOT looking to lose weight: If you are at your goal weight, I recommend using training fuel for almost EVERY training. For those looking to lose weight, we can use shorter training (<60 minutes) as an opportunity to create a calorie deficit for weight loss without causing performance issues. BUT, if you’re not looking to lose weight, there’s not much reason to cause a calorie (energy deficit).

  • For you, I recommend a recovery after every training even IF it’s short.
  • And, if you go into a training session low on energy, add a quick pre-training option 15-30 minutes beforehand despite the workout length. Of note, you can benefit from not having a pre-training fuel option as some training while fasted can help your body become more fat adapted, which may improve endurance and body fuel utilization (but not necessarily cause weight loss). BUT this benefit does not override giving your body fuel when it needs it, and especially if you feel low on energy. That is a downward spiral you don’t want to slip down.

Today’s Challenge:

Look through the Pre-Training Fuel Options on your Training Fuel Plan – we’ll discuss these, and some of the pre-training considerations a bit more tomorrow. Which ones would fit into your schedule and food preferences? Make a plan to have these available before your next training.

Alright – that wraps up day two! We’ll keep going the rest of the week & set some goals towards the end.

(Click here to head back to the Boot Camp HOMEPAGE)

Day 3:

Quote of the Week: To hell with circumstances. I create opportunities. -Bruce Lee

Today’s Tools  – PRE-TRAINING/PRE-RACE NUTRITION:

First, and again, your best tool for pre-training nutrition is your Training Nutrition Plan (from Day#2).

To start today, look at page #3…you’ll find a whole bunch of options for giving your body quick, usable training fuel when you’re headed out for up to 3 hours.

If going up to 1.5 hours and a pre-training snack is needed, try 1 portion of any option listed.

If 1.5-3 hours, try 2-3x portions (or combine different options).

All of these should be tolerated when consumed even just 15-30 minutes before hitting the trail or road (although individual preferences can vary). In fact, they should almost be thought of as “during-training” nutrition, as they will most likely be digested and hit your bloodstream right about the time you’re going to start training.

Second, when headed out for 3+ hours, I recommend consuming 75+ gm carbs in a pre-training/pre-race meal, and then another 15-25 gm carbs in a quick pre-training/race snack right before starting, or in staging.

Look down a bit further on page 3. Here I list my favorite option, a pre-training smoothie. Why do I think smoothies are a good choice before hitting a trail? They can simply deliver a lot of nutrition without much work for your stomach.  And, since many time long training, adventures, or races begin early in the morning, you can save yourself from having to wake up EXTRA EARLY for breakfast if you make it a liquid breakfast.

If you want to know more about pre-training smoothie options, check out my post on building your own:

Build Your Own Pre-Training Smoothie

Next, let’s discuss a little more about special consideration before training. Look down further to page 9 of your Training Fuel Plan. Here, you’ll find more info on:

  • Sodium Pre-Loading (Great if you’re a “heavy sweater” or headed out in hot & humid weather
  • Beets, Nitrites & Nitrates (Want more oxygen delivery & uptake in your muscles? Yes, please)
  • Amino Acids (L-glutamine & BCAAs can specifically delay muscle fatigue, and you can begin using them before you start)
  • Beta-Alanine (another amino acid…this one’s protocol is a bit more involved, but it can pay dividends w/ improved performance & recovery from anaerobic bouts)
  • Anti-Cramp Tonic (if you’re someone who’s muscles threaten to cramp during rides, runs, and more, try this)

Last, let’s talk a bit about caffeine. If you don’t drink coffee or other caffeine-containing drinks on a regular daily basis, you may be able to skip this (or you can try it and really feel a jolt).

If you consume daily caffeine, though, consider:

Nutritionally and healthwise, there is nothing wrong with coffee…actually, there are many benefits. The issue athletes run into is that you can set your caffeine *baseline* to the amount you consume on a daily basis.

For example, if you consume 3-5 cups each morning before you train later during the day, your body will come to “need” this amount to feel good before any training/race. If you don’t get it, you’ll likely feel like you’re dragging (this is mental but it manifests physically in performance).

Since many longer trainings/adventures/rides begin early in the morning, it can be difficult to get to your baseline before them. The solution is usually two-fold: 1) slightly reduce caffeine intake day to day (upper limit of 16-24 oz coffee), and then use coffee and/or caffeine pills before/during a big ride/race to make sure you feel like you’re at or above baseline. Here’s a post on using caffeine before & during training/races:

Caffeine, Caffeine Pills & Endurance – My Experiment

(or, here’s my Podcast on the same Subject – Apex Nutrtion Podcast on Mountain Bike Radio)

Spoiler (if I’m not able to get up to my baseline, I usually take a 100-200 mg caffeine pill before a workout/race…then, if 3+ hours or a very important/intense shorter workout, an average of 50-100 mg per hour).

***Of note, I’ve recently changes my caffeine pill of choice as I don’t like “No Dozes” new formulation w/ some additives. I am now using: Nutra Champs Focused Energy

Feeling buzzed? I think that’s enough for one day! It’s a lot.

Just remember, the pre-training fuel is the foundation.

If you want to add any of the others, they are all options. I hope you’re enjoying this camp through all things nutrition & sports nutrition. Grab your water, coffee, green tea, whatever, and let’s keep going!

(Click here to head back to the Boot Camp HOMEPAGE)

Day 4:

Quote of the Week: To hell with circumstances. I create opportunities. -Bruce Lee

Today’s Tools  – DURING-TRAINING/DURING-RACE NUTRITION:

First, here’s the mantra of Pre-Training Fuel – just because I forgot to give it to you yesterday: Fueled but not Full. We want to go into training and races fueled for the activity ahead of us, but not feeling full in our stomachs. Yes? Good.

Today, we have 2 Mantra’s:

  1. Fuel for what’s ahead. Let’s think through the physiology once more. Even the quickest digested nutrients will take 10-15 minutes to hit the bloodstream, and most other training fuels will likely take 15-30 minutes – you’re fueling for what’s ahead of you…this should dictate what you consume when.
  2. It’s not about what you burn, it’s about what your body can use (rolls right off the tongue, right?). Time and time again athletes will come to me with a number of calories they burn per hour while training, wanting me to match it with nutrition during-training. This is simply a recipe for disaster.

First, your stomach, which is your rate-limiting factor, does NOT want to process 800 calories per hour while your body is doing intense work. It just doesn’t.

And second, your body simply cannot use and does not need the amount in burns in real time. What does it need, then? Ah, about, PER HOUR:

  • 18-24 oz. fluids (can be as low as 12 oz. in cold weather and 32 in hot)
  • 60-90 grams carbs*
  • 400+ mg sodium

Then, there are a few “advanced nutrients” we can use for better outcomes including the amino acids, caffeine, extra electrolytes, probiotics, and more. Stay tuned.

*Well-trained athletes often feel good in the 40-60 grams per hour range, but your body can absolutely efficiently use 60-90 grams if you can figure out how to get it in logistically.

Second, let’s open up your Training Nutrition Plan, dive into these numbers, and see real-world examples. Starting on page 13, your plan will help you work through the 3 main parts of training nutrition and calculate the nutrients you’re planning to make sure you’re getting the right amounts. Work through this plan, and find any combo of drinks, fuels, electrolyte options, etc to get the nutrients your body needs, hour by hour.

Third, here are some of my favorites, because this is a common question for me. But again, individual preference is key:

  • Drink: I like the homebrew I’ve listed for shorter everyday riding, and CarboRocket 333 for anything more intense or over 3 hours. Want to try CarboRocket  -Brad has offered my clients a discount…save 25% by using this Carborocket Link and code Apex2014.
  • Fuels: For hourly carbs, if I need more than my drink provides, I like Powerbar gels, any of the cookies I’ve listed on your plan, fig newtons, ginger chews and this recipe for chocolate covered espresso beans.
  • Sodium: My preferences are 1/12-1/4 tsp salt added to my drink, the s-caps listed or a bacon slice on a long ride.
  • Substantial foods: I like a lot of things here. I generally want something salty. Mashed sweet potatoes, the lemon bars I’ve listed, gourmet boiled potatoes I’ve listed, and more. One I just started using this last summer is Everything Bagels with dates (if you get an error w/ this page, just refresh).
  • Caffeine: My choice is Focused Energy – usually @ 1 pill (150 mg) every 2 hours or so.

Fourth, here’s a video recap of the Keys of During-Training Nutrition:

 

 

Or, watch it on YouTube: https://youtu.be/CHE9hkQw3NM

Today’s Challenge:

Work through the numbers of your favorite fueling options. If you don’t have favorites or any that work at all, take a look and find some to try that sound good. Then, work through the numbers. It seems simple, I know. And, it’s easy to assume engineered fuels have all you need. They usually don’t. Check yourself, before you wreck yourself. Mantra #4 of the day. We’re on a roll.

Fueled enough? I hope so! That wraps up today, and we’ll hit the recovery HARD tomorrow.

(Click here to head back to the Boot Camp HOMEPAGE)

Day 5:

Quote of the Week: To hell with circumstances. I create opportunities. -Bruce Lee

Today’s Tools  – RECOVERY NUTRITION:

First, we’ve got a new mantra for recovery: Come back better tomorrow. Today’s subject, recovery nutrition,  is all about coming back better and better. Sure you can skip it, and be fine overall eventually. But, training nutrition, including recovery, is about feeling GREAT during and after the training/race. No bonking, no headaches, no feeling like you got run over by a truck after. The other thing I’ve found throughout my career?

Recovery is the aging athlete’s edge.  Most athletes know now to work smarter, not harder. To train hard but also take time off. Recovery is part of that.

As a review, here’s what we’ve covered this week, in 5 mantras:

  1. Fueled but not full
  2. Fuel for what’s ahead
  3. It’s not about what you burn, it’s about what your body can use.
  4. Come back better tomorrow.
  5. Recovery is the aging athlete’s edge.

Second, let’s dig a little deeper about the goals of recovery nutrition. What does it take to “come back better tomorrow?

  • Replenishing the glycogen in your muscles (carbs)
  • Providing the nutrients needed to repair muscle cells (protein, and specific amino acids in the midst of overall adequate calories)
  • Fluid balance in the arteries (this means hydration with both fluids & electrolytes)
  • Reduced soreness while promoting cell/tissue healing (not inhibiting it) (specific amino acids, ginger, turmeric)

Easy enough, right? Sure.

Third, here’s how to get it done:

Three Basic Recovery Ingredients Include:

Carbohydrates

This macronutrient replenishes the glycogen in the liver and muscles that’s been used up in training.

Any athlete whose main goal is performance (rather than fat loss) should aim for .25-.50 grams of carbs per body weight as soon as possible after training (if aiming for weight loss, 40-45 gm carbs in recovery).

With intense training or session >90 minutes, I recommend a recovery snack with these carbs in addition to regular meals/snacks.

If less intense, shorter, or with fat loss goals in mind, an athlete can use a normal meal/snack as the recovery as soon as possible after training.

Protein

Protein helps repair muscle cells, build muscle cells, and provide the body with nutrients to burn rather than its own muscles.

Ten to thirty grams of protein as soon as possible after training can improve recovery.

What’s more, a combination of slow-acting proteins (like casein from dairy, soy and proteins in meats) and fast-acting proteins (whey from dairy or albumin from eggs) can improve immediate and long-lasting muscle retention.

Fluids

It’s important to crawl out of a dehydrated state as soon as possible after training.

A good rule of thumb is 16-32 ounces fluid per hour training during and immediately after.

During the Spring and Summer, error on the high side and aim for 20 ounces per hour during training and another 12 oz. per hour immediately afterwards.

After intense training in summer heat, or any level 3+ hours, try to either get in salty foods or add 200-400 mg sodium along with the fluids (if in doubt or feel moderately-severely dehydrated, use a serving of an electrolyte drink like NUUN).

And now, you can take it a step further

My work with hundreds of serious endurance athletes, specifically on training and recovery, has led me to recommend these recovery ingredients with complete confidence.

Three Advanced Recovery Ingredients Include:

Probiotics

These healthy gut bacteria do more than keep you regular.

Athletes can experience two important benefits when they are added to recovery:

  1. The bacteria improve the immediate digestion and absorption of the other nutrients in recovery allowing them to be delivered to muscle cells faster.
  2. Probiotics specifically improve the immune function in endurance athletes, especially in regards to chronic colds, mononucleosis and fatigue associated with over-training.

Try adding lactobacillus from yogurt, kefir or a probiotic supplement with recovery (in addition to) daily eating.

L-Glutamine and BCAAs

L-glutamine is an amino acid used by the gut cells, immune system, and skeletal muscles cells.

While sedentary people likely receive adequate l-glutamine through regular protein foods and the constant breakdown/repair of muscles, athletes often become deficient due to their high skeletal muscle demands.

Supplementing l-glutamine in recovery can significantly reduce soreness and shorten recovery duration.

Simply add 5 grams (from a supplemental powder) to your recovery meal or snack.  To help muscles repair themselves, also add 5 gm BCAAs after 3+ hour workouts.

Here’s the brand I choose: Now l-glutamine   Now BCAAs

Turmeric/Ginger

These natural Superfoods are loaded with anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, and phytochemicals in abundance, all which contributes to optimal cell recovery.

What’s more, they both have been known traditionally to reduce joint pain and improve joint health.

In recent years, studies have also shown that they are effective in pain reduction, soreness reduction, and healing. And, that last part is important. While pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) can inhibit healing when used chronically, ginger and turmeric PROMOTE healing while reducing pain.

To get enough ginger for ongoing recovery, choose ~500 mg each ginger and turmeric supplements per day (check out the label, but most are 500 mg each), 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger each day, or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger. If in chronic pain or recovering from injury, increase supplementation to 1000 mg each. The brands I choose:

Nature’s Way Ginger    Nature’s Bounty Turmeric

Fourth, so how does this translate to real foods? Here are my 2 favorite GO-TO recipees:

Raw Cocoa Chocolate Milk (easy, no cooking)

Cherry Lime Recovery Smoothie

But really, any food that’s a combo of carbs and protein, with these aminos, probiotics and spices on the side, will work. Or, if you need convenience, I’m a fan of CarboRocket Rehab (use Apex2014 for discount) or Ultragen.

Fifth, want more discussion on the subject? It just so happens I have some podcasts for you on the subject of recovery, soreness reduction, and healing tissues. Try:

Last thing: Got Questions? I’m on the forum today! Join me: https://www.apexnutritionllc.com/fuelrightblog/forums/forum/apex-nutrition-boot-camp-forum-march-2019/

Today’s Challenge:

Another day, another set of a lot of information! The best way to soak it in? Find a recovery option you like, get it ready, and start making recovery a consistent part of your training. I don’t just *hope* recovery will make you a better athlete. I *know* it will.

Recovered yet? If not, use the weekend to catch up a bit and we’ll continue next week with supplements – Everyday Health AND Performance! I hope so!

(Click here to head back to the Boot Camp HOMEPAGE)