Are you a fat-burner or a sugar-burner?

If you're just tuning in, check out the first three posts of "Is your training working?". 


Processed foods.  They're everywhere.  They look like this:


They're easy to find, inexpensive, and they often taste great. The problem is, there's next to no nutritional value in these foods. They provide calories, but little else. 


How do these foods impact your athletic performance? Let's look at the fuel burning profile for a male, masters age athlete who consumes a diet high in processed carbohydrates:

Orange line = carb burned.   Grey line = fat burned. 

Orange line = carb burned.   Grey line = fat burned. 

Even at low intensity, this athlete is burning mostly carbohydrate as his fuel source. 

What's wrong with burning carbohydrate?

Glycogen stores (stocked away in our muscles and liver) are precious, and once those stores are depleted, it can take up to 48 hours to restock your supply and get back to feeling fresh. Burning carbs at high intensity is normal, but when we're working at low to moderate intensity, we're much better off utilizing a more efficient, cleaner burning fuel source: fat. 

So why is this athlete burning such a high percentage of carbohydrate, even at low intensity? The answer is because that's what this athlete is eating: low quality carbs. Our body burns the fuel we give it; if we eat garbage, that's what we'll burn. We can still operate on garbage, but we operate at far from our best! This athlete is struggling during long workouts, taking a long time to recover between workouts, and producing low power at high levels of effort.  

For comparison, here is the same athlete's fuel burning profile after three months of coaching and dietary improvements:

Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 9.22.25 AM.png

He's now lasting longer and feeling stronger during long workouts, has higher power output at every intensity level, is recovering more quickly between workouts, and reports having more energy throughout the day. What did it take for him to improve this much over three months? This is not a complete list, but the top four changes:

  • An increase in quality dietary fats
  • An increase in quality dietary protein
  • Cutting out processed carbs and sugars
  • His workouts were designed specifically around his metabolic profile (a delicate balance between high intensity, low intensity, and rest and recovery)

Dinners started looking more like this:

Weekend adventure planning over a delicious dinner

Weekend adventure planning over a delicious dinner

If you haven't seen a plate like that in a while, the good news is you have a lot of upside for improvement in mood, energy levels, gut health, body composition, and performance.  


Have questions about metabolic testing and whether it would be right for you?  Visit the contact page and reach out with questions or comments.