Metabolic Efficiency Training and More about Fats !!
I wish to introduce to you Dina Griffin, MS, RD, CSSD; Sports Dietitian (extraordinaire!) Dina is the sports dietitian for www.Fuel4mance.com, an expert in Metabolic Efficiency for athletes (like you!), and a wonderful friend 🙂
Dina, very generously, is offering to us her expertise on Fats for the Athlete. Thanks Dina!!!
As you learned in Janet’s last post, there are a variety of fats contained in whole and processed foods. Most athletes tend to simply think in terms of “good” and “bad” fats and there are still quite a few athletes who have “fat phobia” believing that eating fat will make them fat or cause heart disease. To this, we say “times are changing” as the science of nutrition evolves and we gain more years of scientific evidence to examine.
As the concept and implementation of “Metabolic Efficiency Training” (by sport dietitian and exercise physiologist, Bob Seebohar of Fuel4mance) continues to develop, we are seeing interesting ways we can manipulate daily nutrition patterns to positively affect an athlete’s ability to utilize internal fat stores as a fuel source, while preserving carbohydrate stores, all without compromising health and performance. And guess what? One of these dietary strategies is to eat more fat!
Now, this does not mean you have a free ticket to load up on any and all fats without giving attention to the other aspects of your daily nutrition choices. Nor does it necessarily mean you have to switch to snacking on butter sticks during exercise. What it does mean is lowering our carbohydrate load, keeping our protein intake moderate, and increasing our intake of a variety of fats. This may sound vague or inadequate for some of the analytical athletes who feel they need to know exact quantities or grams of macronutrients in order to implement, but it must be noted that dietary changes should be customized to the type of athlete, his/her goals (i.e., weight loss or body composition goals), medical history, current health status and food preferences. The level of “how high fat do I need to go?” will depend on many factors, but the good news is when implemented properly, increasing fat does NOT cause athletes to become fat. Additionally, the scientific evidence is showing that it is high intakes of carbohydrates that are more associated with the development of chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
A question commonly heard when discussing Metabolic Efficiency Training is “how and why are fats important for making me a more fat efficient (or “fat-adapted”) athlete?” Here is a “top 4” list to provide some answers to that question:
1) In order to improve your body’s ability to use its fat stores more efficiently and preserve limited carbohydrate stores, the underlying strategy is to put together foods at our snacks and meals that stabilize blood sugar and minimize insulin spikes. Dietary fat sources (such as avocado, nuts and seeds, coconut oil, olives and olive oil, high fat dairy, higher fat meats) make up a part of this solution. For example, a meal that consists of cereal, skim milk, banana and orange juice is essentially a high carbohydrate meal which spikes blood sugar and turns down the ability to enhance fat utilization. The overhauled meal may look like: an egg-veggie omelet cooked in coconut oil topped with avocado. This meal still provides carbohydrate but at a much lower amount and is higher in fat and protein, all of which keeps blood sugar more stable and allows for cellular changes (over time) to allow for greater fat utilization.
2) Fat provides satiety. Are you one of the athletes who gets hungry every 2 hours or has to graze constantly? Fat has a significant impact on making us “feel full” primarily due to its longer digestion time. Even though fat is more calorically dense, if it contributes to prolonged periods of time without feeling ravenous, then the net caloric intake at the end of the day may likely be less than the higher carbohydrate dietary pattern.
3) Fats can actually be anti-inflammatory, particularly the omega-3 and monounsaturated fat sources and when there is a more balanced ratio of omega 6 fats to omega 3 fat intake. I would also add here that saturated fats are not the evil they once were and should be included in an athlete’s daily nutrition (remember, this should be customized to the athlete). System inflammation is a major contributor to the onset and progression of chronic and autoimmune diseases so why not change our nutrition patterns to minimize inflammation?
4) Athletes who are eating higher amounts of fat along with consistently stabilizing blood sugar levels show significant improvements in fat utilization during exercise, as shown by testing done on a metabolic cart. At Fuel4mance, we have numerous case studies demonstrating this. In a recent example, a female ultra runner who was using 46% of her energy from fat at a 12:00 minute per mile pace improved this to 58% in a three month time period just by making dietary changes that included higher intakes of fat.
I hope this helps shed a different perspective on how and why fat can positively affect our health, performance and improve our metabolic efficiency. Stay tuned here as much more will be shared!
-Dina Griffin, MS, RD, CSSD
Sport Dietitian for Fuel4mance
Thanks Dina! I always learn from you!
Stay tuned to learn more about Metabolic Efficiency Training for YOU 🙂