Eating to increase fitness – Advanced Nutrition Strategies
It’s pretty well known that training improves your fitness, but did you know your nutrition can also improve your fitness? No not just by dropping weight to make that run easier but by increasing the size and number of your mitochondria (sometimes referred to as the powerhouse of the cell).
To increase the size and number of your mitochondria we first need to choose the correct aerobic training stimulus. Let’s take an aerobic bike session like 2x10 minutes at threshold pace with 5 minutes rest.
How does this actually make you fitter?
Well aside from changes to the heart, this type of training also changes us on a cellular level.
We plan our training to cause the cell signalling protein AMPK to converge on the gene PGC1 Alpha to cause it to translocate to your mitochondria where it stimulates “mitochondrial biogenesis” the production of new mitochondria; which again are highly involved in the production of energy.
The thing is, going into this session with high carbohydrate availability blunts the response you are training.
We can store around 300-400g of carbohydrate in the form of glycogen in our muscles so going into a session where improving your aerobic system is the goal we want to run down your carbohydrate availability prior to that session.
Here’s an example of how we might achieve that:
Imagine you have the threshold session I mentioned above planned for Tuesday morning and you want to maximise your aerobic adaptations.
On Monday night we need to “run down” your carbohydrate levels.
To achieve this you could either do a resistance session consisting of 20-25 sets in total, a long run/bike session or some short punchy intervals like 20x6 sec sprint 54 rest.
After that session and before the following morning’s conditioning session, we deliberately restrict carbohydrate. So, you might opt for something like a chicken breast with mixed vegetables and olive oil for your evening meal and your pre-training breakfast could be 2 scrambled eggs and a black coffee for example.
Going into the session you’ll often feel fine but you may feel fatigued quickly. This is absolutely fine and to be expected. It is in fact hitting fatigue that stimulates the need for your body and energy systems to change.
Remember, you are training to achieve changes, not necessarily to perform to your best every session so try not to be too competitive about times and meterage etc.
Following a session performed “low” include some carbs and a good source of protein in your post training meal to aid recovery straight away and to protect your immune system.
In my experience of applying this method, the athletes with the best response have been those with a well-developed anaerobic energy system who still have room for growth on their aerobic system development. If you find you are reasonably fit and strong but tend to gas out after a couple of minutes throwing in a low session once per week could be a good call.
If you’d like some help we have a new online nutrition coaching service coming this June so feel free to drop us a line if you’re interested. You can call (0191 7070 555) or fill in the quick online form below.
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