Have you ever gotten to the point where your workouts no longer “work” and you arenʻt seeing any physical changes? Have you ever gotten bored with a workout that used to challenge you because it is mundane and “easy”?
This is the time of year when everyone is making resolutions to get healthy and exercise. I belong to a number of virtual movement challenges, the largest being run the year put on by run the edge (https://runtheedge.com). This challenge asks an individual or a team to run (or walk or step) the calendar year in miles over a twelve month span. Each of these groups has an associated virtual support group where people ask questions and share information and where I borrow some of my best ideas for blogs.
Starting with the idea of moving 2019 miles over the course of the year, that breaks down to 5.53 miles per day. For some people this is accomplished through just daily steps recorded on a wearable device. For others it is intentional walking or running miles done outside of their daily steps. Or it could even be a combination of daily steps and intentional miles. The question is what makes this a challenge to you? And why does it need to be a challenge?
Exercise physiology uses the approach of the S.A.I.D. Principle, specific adaptation to imposed demands. Some of my previous blogs have discussed how training in the summer heat and training hills make the body adapt to become stronger, more efficient. This is a good thing. When we don’t challenge ourselves, when we don’t induce some sort of training stress, we can’t change, adapt and grow. We need to constantly change things up to keep our body on its toes, so to speak.
For example, if you had a job where you were really active, standing and walking all day long, eventually your body will adapt to that as the normal amount of movement for the day. Those who have a job that is more sedentary, spending your days at a desk tied to a phone and a computer, adding something as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or adding a half an hour walk at lunch, can make physiological changes adapting to the stress added to the day. This is why it is important to take on a challenge that really and truly is a challenge. Some people can easily make 5.5 miles in a day with their normal routine. While they may “win” the challenge, they won’t make any real changes to their body. For others, taking more daily steps, even if they fall short of the goal, will set themselves up for their body to make changes.
By following the S.A.I.D. Principle, the body will adapt to the demands of our training. Eventually the once hard workouts become easier and easier. We experience less muscle soreness and recover quicker. After a period of time, however, if we continue with the same workout day after day after day, our body will expect that as part of our routine. The next thing we know, our routines don’t work anymore. That is a cue to change things up, find a new challenge and figure out a new way to grow. Once daily steps are enough, add an intentional walk even if it is just on weekends. When walking becomes easy, try some running (it isn’t that bad… even if you aren’t being chased). When the shorter distances become easy, try some longer distances. Or add some weight training or yoga or something else that interests you.
The same principle applies to training distance. Always moving the same 5.53 miles each day for the year will result in change to a point and then the body will adapt. The easiest way to overcome that is to vary the mileage over the course of the week or month. Adding some shorter easy days provides active rest. Building to some longer mileage days will challenge the body to adapt and grow. Varying distance, terrain, speed and the activity of your workout is also one of the best ways to prevent overuse injuries… which could be a series of blogs alone!
It is still early enough in January to keep those resolutions going. Just don’t let your body outsmart you. That’s what she S.A.I.D.
#seemerlag #rty #runtheedge
If the treadmill says I ran 5 miles but my Garmin says I only ran 4.82, which is right? Map my run says my route is 8 miles, but Strava says I ran 8.237, what do I do? How do I know if the calorie counter thingie is correct? If I wasn’t wearing my fitbit, my steps won’t count…
Technology has invaded our world. We can keep in touch with everyone we have ever met in person and those we know only virtually. Our phones store every phone number so that we no longer have to memorize the 7 or 10 digits we need to reach even our closest friends and family. When things break down we are often at a loss to be productive. This same technology that has taken over our everyday tasks has taken over our workouts.
So what does it all mean and how does someone safely navigate all of the information and technology out there?
I belong to a number of “support” groups for runners. Just like every other group, there is a lot of good information floating around, but also a lot of misinformation and… while there are no stupid questions… there are some that are… shall we say… questionable questions…
Now, if you are new to working out I don’t want to discourage you but I do want to encourage you to always check your sources.
To address the above technology questions:
Treadmills are calibrated. That means the machine counts the number of times the belt (you know, that thing that moves when you turn it on), which is of a specific length, goes around. When it reaches a certain number of trips around, the treadmill measures a mile. This is the same way that your car measures miles… how many times the tire rotates. A watch counts the number of steps, based on arm swing, and estimates how many steps make up a mile. Therefore when you try to compare the two values, they are going t be different, especially if you hold on to the treadmill, which you shouldn’t do (but more on that in another blog).
Many Apps and watches like a Garmin work on GPS signals (those same things that help you from getting lost or shout recalculating at every wrong turn) and use those to determine the length of your run. Some do a better job at picking up those signals (or maybe just don’t lose them as easily). It is not unusual to have two runs seem identical but come up with different numbers. Even if you run the ‘exact’ same route two days in a row, it is possible that you strayed a little more to the left or the right and came up with different numbers. So don’t stress, pick the one way of tracking your workouts that you like best and use those stats.
As for the calorie counter, they are based on formulas of guesstimation and shouldn’t be taken as the gospel truth. As a rule of thumb, one mile burns about 100 calories, give or take up to 10%. This is true for walking as well as running, but typically it takes less time to run a mile than to walk the same mile. Some of the variation from the 100 calories can include things such as the terrain (hills can take more effort), heart rate (higher heart rate during the same mile can increase calories burned a bit) and even fitness level. Plus, following exercise there is a physiological process called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), which is the amount of oxygen used to return the body to its pre-exercise condition. The harder the workout the potential for the longer EPOC and the more calories burned. Therefore while a mile burns 100 calories, the true cost of the workout can vary based on lots of other factors.
As for other potential glitches, most of the time the machine doesn’t differentiate between genders. Male and female formulas for calories burned are going to be different. The second thing they don't account for is body composition… the amount of lean muscle versus adipose tissue. Even at rest muscle burns calories to maintain their tone while fat does not, so two people of the same body mass (what you call weight) with very different body compositions will burn differing amounts of calories during the day. The thing to understand is that the machine cannot accurately give you to the calorie the amount you burn. If you are working out but gaining weight, keep in mind the calories you burn don’t give you license to eat uncontrollably.
As for the last point, every step counts and every time you move it is a good thing. If you find yourself obsessing over technology and what counts, maybe it is time to unplug and let go. There is something to be said for moving for the sake of moving.
What are you waiting for… get off the couch!!!
Runners and hills…
I learned early on never to trust a race description that read fast and flat when I ran a 5K with the first mile being straight up hill. My friend was the race director who, when I challenged him, replied, "that is what we are supposed to say so that people sign up." Thanks, Gary! In their golden rules of running, Runners World's points out that you never gain as much time running downhill as you lose running uphill, see rule 14.
These rules came to light a few weeks ago when someone shared a post about a woman who cheated on the Honolulu marathon by cutting the course. I don’t want to dwell on the negative, so I won’t link the story, but I knew her times were off because of how long it took her to run a portion of the race. For 5 years I lived around mile 16 of the course where there is a big hill, probably running that portion about 1000 times, although I never ran the marathon. My daily runs would start at the house most days, meaning I had no choice but to do hill training. From experience, that is a tough section of the course that is bound to slow people down, not speed them up!
Why does running up hill slow us down? Because it takes more energy to move your body up the hill, against gravity, compared to running on flat ground where you do not have to overcome the additional forces of gravity. In order to run the same speed on a hill as flat ground, you need more energy which means more oxygen and more blood flow to working muscles. Speed is sacrificed as the body is working harder to maintain its level of homeostasis (physiological balance). For someone doing heart rate training, it is not unusually to be forced to walk the hill in order to keep the heart rate in the appropriate zone as the heart rate increases in an effort to keep up with the work required. In some cases, the cost of the energy needed to climb the big hill cannot be overcome later in races forcing us to slow down. Running hills, especially in a race, is a balancing act between what you can do now and what you need to do later.
As for the downhill, the pull of gravity on the downhill isn’t enough to “speed” us up by giving more energy, especially for people who tend to lean back into the hill to prevent gravity from pulling them too far down too quickly (falling… because some of us like the test the laws of gravity and friction).
How do we overcome the challenge of the hill? The same way we improve in all of our running… perfect practice makes perfect. In order to get better at hills, your body needs to learn to adapt to the physiological stresses of running the hill. That is why a training plan will have hill workouts included. Running hills is the only way to teach the body how to respond to running hills. The body learns to adapt to the extra workload. The heart begins to change to pump more blood with each beat. The lungs and breathing muscles learn to take in more air with each breath and exhale completely. The muscles get stronger, gaining muscle fibers (cells) and more blood vessels to allow for more efficient work. There are so many adaptations and changes going on at levels that we cannot even see. What we do know is that eventually it gets easier, the times get faster, the breathing less labored, the soreness less after the run. With an effective hill training program once race day comes around it no longer matters if the course is really fast and flat.
My last blog answered some questions about using exercise to balance out the everyday stresses, but didn’t quite answer them all. If you ask a runner, they will say that they feel better post-run; it relieves their stress and the endorphins make them feel better. They will tell you that they get stressed out when they “can’t” run especially if it is because life or injury gets in the way. And I also brought up the fact that our autonomic nervous system cannot identify the difference between physical stress and psychological stress. Which got me wondering how exactly does exercise improve the mental state and, of course, what does the research say?
One of the first articles I found went through the differences between the stress responses when running alone versus in a group. I will save you from the original article here, as it dealt with mice and wheels and is not the easiest to translate directly to humans. The basic understanding of the article is that we are less stressed with exercise in a group environment than in a solo environment. I found this incredibly fascinating because while running is a solo sport, many runners find comfort in training in a group environment and most will say they have faster runs during a race because they are surrounded by other people. Of course in the scenario of this research article the exercise is forced on the mice, but the general concept that we are less stressed when we are with others is a pretty important thing to consider.
What about when studying humans? Obviously the same type of trials cannot occur (yes, even in physical education class…). I found a research article that looked at the effects of exercise on brain chemicals and how it would influence those with mental health concerns. Based on anecdotal information and my understanding of stress on the physical realm I expected the results to be supportive of exercise for improving mental health just as it does for physical health. From a chemical standpoint, this was not statistically true. The reality is that exercise is not a panacea. It won’t cure everything, mental or physical. For someone with a chemical imbalance, exercise alone is not enough to overcome biochemistry. So the research should not have surprised me as much as it did.
The direct link could not be made… but… what about indirectly?
Exercise is one of the many tools in the toolbox. Things that we do know… exercise, sleep, hydration, proper nutrition, these are ways that we can take care of our physical body but they also can influence our mental state. Proper sleep and nutrition can help us feel more alert and ready to take on the world’s challenges. The more prepared we are to take on the world, the better we overcome challenges and the better we feel about ourselves. And maybe the more we have the desire to start an exercise program. Or once we start an exercise program, we decide to make nutrition changes to match what we are asking of our body. The physical may improve how we perceive things and hence adjust the mental aspect. The mental may influence how we act physically, such as feeling energized enough at the end of the day to workout or getting enough sleep in order to get up early and hit the gym.
Creating physical stress helps the body adapt and grow. Creating mental stress, such as through learning, can also help us grow. Combining the two can create for better growth as a person. So maybe exercise is as good for the mind as it is for the body after all.
Ever since I first learned about the Hans Selye and the stress response of the human body I have been intrigued by the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Typically these systems are presented as if they are distinct, you are either in sympathetic (fight or flight) or parasympathetic (rest and digest) mode. The reality is that both systems work together all of the time to create an autonomic balance in the body. Physiologically the body works to maintain homeostasis, or balance within normal limits.
But wait… the media tells me that stress is bad, right? It causes heart attacks and cancer and high blood pressure, so we don’t need it, we need the rest and digest, parasympathetic, relaxed phase only, right?
Not so fast, it is not quite as simple as good or bad and cause and effect.
First of all, there is “good” stress (eustress) and “bad” stress (distress). Good things in our life, like getting a new job or getting married cause stress, but it is the good kind. Bad things, like losing a job or losing a loved one, cause stress; we cannot avoid the bad stress in our life. Now, if I was someone else, this blog would turn to be about how the bad stress makes us appreciate the good. Since this is me, this blog is about how the bad stress is happening, how do we handle it?
Second of all, the body responds to stress regardless of the cause. The autonomic nervous system cannot tell if it is physical stress from something like running a marathon or psychological stress like giving a presentation in front of a large audience. Both elicit the same response of increased heart rate and increased breathing, sweating, etc. That is one of the things that makes my research so interesting. Is an athlete having issues outside of sports that lead to a sympathetic response or is it just because of the lack of recovery from their training? The body doesn’t know, but if you keep running races or keep speaking in front of audiences, eventually your body understands the threat a little bit better and accommodates.
With stress we grow and change. Have you heard of how weight bearing exercise helps strengthen the bones and prevent osteoporosis? That is a physiological phenomenon called Wolf’s law (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolff%27s_law). When we stress our bones, they adapt to the stress and get stronger. All exercise improvement comes from the SAID principle (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/SAID_principle), specific adaptation to imposed demands. That is why a workout becomes easier over time, unless we do something more to challenge ourselves. We need stress in our lives... to some extent.
If stress isn’t the problem, what IS the problem? The problem is how we manage the stress that comes our way. Instead of facing the stress and dealing with it, we let it pile up like laundry in the corner until it becomes so insurmountable that we have no idea whether to wash it all, throw it out or just go out into the world naked. Instead of preventing the stress from taking over by taking time for ourselves most days, we think we don’t have time away from the business of life or that we are being selfish if we don’t look after ourselves. Except when the stress becomes too much, our body forces us to shut down through things like illness. That stress shows us! Slow down or I will get you anyway!
Completing my PhD was extremely stressful, so I combated that stress by running (trying not to overtrain while studying under-recovery from exercise… talk about a plan!). Running became a great way for me to work out any potential problems as I often think best with my feet pounding the pavement. In fact, I “wrote” a good portion of this blog on my last run (and the rest of it in the local bagel shop). I added in yoga to help combat a good portion of the mental stress of writing and the physical stress of running. I created a plan for the stress that I knew was coming instead of giving it permission to take over.
Stress won’t go away. It can and will help us grow if we don’t let it consume us or cause us to become ill. Exercise is a great way to combat the daily stress in our lives. The next time you are faced with stress, consider running or walking or biking or swimming or Zumba-ing away from it. Let the body learn and grow and adapt. You will come back physically stronger and mentally stronger.
A few months ago I took a stack of magazines with me to the airport for a flight. One was a women’s fitness magazine, which had a list of the “best” exercises for fitness. I read it with a distinct eye roll and accompanying head shake. So here we go again with the myth of what is best. There is media and there is research. Always be careful when you read about research in glossy print.
According to the research bite, running short sprints was better than long distances for fitness, however this is where the media screws up the research. I am sure that is what the research reports, but I am also sure that the peer-reviewed article was not so simple in its conclusion that it could be expressed in less than a single sentence. For example, doing just one or two sprints does not put me in the kind of shape I need to complete a half marathon. A few sprints do not fit the recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise in a week. Sprints are a great form of exercise, but before you commit to a short distance workout, revisit your goals. Do you hate cardio and prefer to lift weights? Yes, maybe incorporating some sprints in between sets will get your heart some healthy benefits. Go for it! But if your goal involves long, slow distance, you will need to put in the miles.
Another female in science jokingly posted a picture for a magazine that declared you are 8% stronger if you curse out loud. Man, why didn’t I think of that study for my dissertation! This conclusion was brightly placed in the middle of a page in Better Homes and Gardens, again leading to the misconception that you can swear your way to a better body (you can’t… but I do like the idea…). What I did learn from investigating this subject: swearing increased pain tolerance and heart rate and decreased perceived pain compared to not swearing (http://www.mzellner.com/page4/files/2009-stephens.pdf). I did find the research that I think Better Homes and Gardens is citing, but the conclusions were not as strong or as simple as expressed. In the research study the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) response was not deemed to be responsible for the increase in performance, and therefore they could not explain why it was happening.
It is no wonder we are confused when the media reports research, as it seems that for every pro- article there is an equally effective con article. A social science researcher actually found out that the majority of the research that goes public via the media is later proven to be not true. So how do you know who or what to trust when doing your own research? First of all consider the source. If it sounds too good to be true, like simply swearing or doing a small bit of exercise, know that they have probably left out some additional information. For those who want to be in the know, look for the primary article. If you are incredibly curious, go ahead and read the abstract, as it should have some more information. If you are incredibly ambitious, take the time to read the entire article and you will be surprised what you can learn. Or ask one of us professionals. I am always happy to share what I have learned!
Yes, I know… this is a blog about running and research and recovery written by an athletic trainer/massage therapist… why are we discussing a dietician… For starters, next to hydration and sleep, fuel is the next best thing for recovery (note, I almost never say food in this context because it is not about food so much as replacing energy that is used for exercise).
While giving my semesterly lecture to undergrad students about healthy sleep, I also give out quite a few crossovers from the information they hear from our director of sports nutrition, Coach Annie, the dietician. I try not to get too far out of my element in the fuel topics because I know just enough to be informed but not enough to be an expert, which is where I need the dietician in my life to be that expert and help me bridge the gap. There is so much information out there, but with her help I can sort through the relevant and give another voice to this important information.
Let’s start with college students and the dreaded freshman 15 (or sophomore 20) and how sleep deprivation comes into play with weight gain. College students have some of the most upside down schedules, especially student athletes with early classes or practices and late night social activities. Besides the fact that no one makes good food choices late at night (I mean really, who makes a salad or a bowl of fruit at midnight! Cold pizza, anyone? Chocolate cake? Cookies?), being sleep deprived alters the hunger hormones leaving us more likely to snack. Sleep deprivation is also associated with mood changes such as depression and with risk taking behaviors, which may or may not include poor choices in the fueling department. So if you are struggling with stress and weight gain, take a look at your sleeping habits and make sure you aren’t sleeping like a college student.
So where does my dietician come in? Some strategies to employ if someone is having trouble sleeping were quite familiar to the student athletes in the audience listening to my talk. Keeping to a regular meal schedule and having small meals throughout the day is a fueling strategy that they hear over and over from Coach Annie to help them perform, and it can help them sleep better as well. Having a snack of protein and carbohydrates, like cereal and milk, just before bed can help promote sleep. Protein before bed can also help to build muscle from the inside and recover from the training, so the bedtime snack is pulling double duty for the recovering athlete.
And what about the fuel choices that college student athletes are making? Doing some research for a grant, I was able to delve into some interesting facts about how the eating habits in our early adult lives influences the decisions we make later on in life. Those who are more engaged in preparing meals at home during their late teens and early twenties are more likely to engage in meal preparation later in life, less likely to eat fast food and more likely to have the appropriate number of servings of fruits and vegetables. Education in nutrition also leads to better eating habits. Those lucky enough to get sound bites from a registered dietician along with a display of appropriate food choices laid for the taking are presented with two of the tools to mold healthy eating habits in their young adult lives. If the research is correct, this will lead them to healthier choices as they move to the next stage of their life.
And about the food choices laid out for the athletes by our dietician, they are backed by exercise and sports science. I was talking with a football player one day about his exercise physiology class, what they were learning and how it applies to his sport and his future career as a coach. I started by asking him if he thought the strength and conditioning coach just blew his whistle or if there was an actual plan to what they were doing in their summer conditioning. He couldn't decide, so I prompted, what if he told you to run 2 miles? He wouldn’t, was the quick response. I bet you run at least 2 miles, I reminded him. “Yeah, but not all at once, we do quick sprints.” And what fuel are you using… the light bulb turned on for a second. “Carbs, which is what Coach Annie tells us to eat before practice.” (I would love to revel in my triumph on this one, but about a week later he couldn’t remember if it was carbs or fat he was burning, but he got there eventually)
We can’t be the experts on everything so we need to listen to the experts around us and take in what they say. Make refueling choices based on the science and not on what is popular in the media. While not everyone can keep a registered dietician around for those dietetic emergencies, it is nice for me to have one to impart her wisdom and make sure I always have access to fruit snacks and animal crackers for my runs.
We have officially hit that time of year. No, not pumpkin spice time or boot and fleece weather; we are in the period when the dropping temperatures meet the drop in daylight and hibernation doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. Why? Because for some of us the daylight is really what drives us and motivates us to get moving in all things, but especially with exercise.
When people ask me what is the “best” exercise, I always ask them what it is that they like to do. If we like something, we are motivated to do it and do it consistently. And consistency is the key to any healthy lifestyle, including exercise. The next step is to make a plan and stick with it! Put exercise in your planner as an appointment, put it on your to do list or, if you are me, go first thing in the morning before you have had a chance to talk yourself out of it. Once it becomes a habit, you find you miss it when it isn’t there.
But no plan is perfect… no person is perfect… and no exercise is perfect.
So here we are a month into autumn and as expected I feel myself starting to fall off the wagon. I knew it was coming… it comes every year like clockwork (yes, please expect more puns and plays on words… it is just too easy with this topic).
The other day I reminded a friend that time is a consistent measure, but he reminded me that perception of time is the reality (think about a treadmill minute). The 24-hour day is based on the earth around the sun. For lack of a better term, it is man-made and not driven by our own internal clock or circadian rhythm. One of the things that drive our internal clock is the presence and absence of daylight. Think about trying to put a young child to bed in the summer when the sun is still visible in the sky. Sure, maybe they are fighting going to sleep, but in reality they and their own physiology relate sunlight with wakefulness and darkness with sleep.
Darkness and sleep… ahhhh; so now here we are in late October. At my current place on the map, sunrise is about 7:35am and it will extend out to about 7:48am before we lose an hour on our return to Standard Time. By the end of the year that “extra” hour of moved daylight in the morning will be gone and sunrise will be after 7:30am again (I’m not really that good at knowing these things off the top of my head, thanks timeanddate.com for a really cool chart!). Add the shift of daylight with cooler temperatures and it is just hard to get out the door in the morning for a run. It isn’t “just me,” it is my physiology and my circadian rhythms that are altered. Sleep and wake cycles drive us throughout the day as our body responds to its own physiology more readily than the numbers on the clock
While complaining about it is nice and the extra sleep in a warm and comfortable bed is a bonus, the key is back in the second paragraph. Altered weather and daylight, changes in physiology can be overcome. For me early morning runs have become either late morning runs on the weekends or after work runs during the week. Another option is switching up the type of workout; take advantage of a strength training or yoga class indoors during the dark early morning hours. Those are great cross-training activities that can pay dividends when the spring brings better weather. Instead of going out for a meal, go out for runch (running lunch) and make the afternoon more productive. Make a new plan. Find something new that you like and do it. Don’t let autumn knock you off of your exercise perch.
The long awaited follow-up to my previous blog post… what happened when we returned the WHOOP (http://whoop.com) devices to the athletes for fall camp in August. Sleep was still a priority for some, but during the first week the biggest change was how I WHOOP’d my athletes to eat. This is not just about making healthy choices, but making choices that will provide enough calories to sustain a high level of activity for someone with a very high metabolism, low body fat and high muscle mass. A chef will tell you that eating is an art, but for an athlete eating for performance and recovery is a matter of science and math.
Now those of you who exercise regularly probably have met that person (or, e-hem, are that person), who likes to eat and uses exercise for some level of calorie balance. As we get older we may realize that we can’t eat as much as we could in our younger years, but for an athlete at any level there is a fine balance between eating enough and eating too much. Too little fuel and our muscles cannot replace the energy that we used up in our last workout. Too much and the excess is stored as potential energy for future works (aka adipose tissue, aka fat).
As recovery starts the minute the last workout finishes, failing to consume enough to fuel to replace what was lost in the last workout, you may not be able to complete the next one. If this is compounded from day to day, the result is not just weight loss, but loss of muscle mass and performance declines. For an athlete that has trouble keeping their weight at an optimum level for their sport, letting the number on the scale drop can lead to a downward spiral. This is of utmost important during pre-season football camp when the athletes are practicing hard on back-to-back days in order to be ready for the season. And this is when I was able to WHOOP my athletes to eat.
During summer training the sports performance dietician shared some tips to encourage calorie consumption and some anecdotes on professional athletes. Yes, there are athletes who set an alarm to make sure that they eat every few hours, even waking up in the middle of the night, in order to consume enough calories to maintain their lifestyle. When one of our trying to be 200-pound skill players looked at the numbers and realized he was burning 6000 calories in a day, he took his eating seriously, though probably not hitting 6000 calories. While according to the WHOOP developers, this number may be high, for the first time in his college career he didn’t drop weight during camp, so he at least achieved energy balance.
The body can store about 3600 calories worth of energy in the muscles and the liver, if they are fully charged at the end of the day. Any fuel that we consume prior to exercise that is readily available will get used first then the body turns to the stored energy. Once about half of the stores are used up, the body will start to slow itself down some to prevent an energy crisis and the inability to perform its daily functions. So for an athlete burning about 3000 calories in a workout, he or she will need fuel beforehand and even during the workout even if they were fully charged at the end of the previous day. To put that in runner terms, most people burn about 100 calories per mile, so anything over 18 miles and you will definitely need some fuel along the way. If you are a bit larger or burn more, you will need to fuel for sure.
Not all calorie counters are created equal, most are estimates based on formulas and cannot take into account the specifics of you being you, so it is important to figure out what will and won’t work for you. It is also important to note that under-fueling can lead to weight gain as much as over-fueling. The body is tricked into believing that it is in starvation mode and will hold onto the fuel that it does have. Anytime that performance is suffering, it is important to try to figure out the cause. And, of course, anything of concern should be brought to a medical professional.
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