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Is eating for health, and eating for performance the same thing?

by Shaun Kober
April 15th 2021

In my line of work, I often see people taking training and dieting to the extremes. And whilst there is a time and place for that, it shouldn't be the norm.

So, how do we bridge the g... More

Yo what's up guys, welcome to this five minute fitness tips episode, as I've mentioned in previous episodes, I will be pulling back from the podcast in the upcoming month or so. As I start preparing to build out phase two of my business, putting together my website training programs etcetera, etcetera. Um So in this episode I've taken about a 6.5 minute clip from an upcoming interview that will drop on monday with my man Danny Lennon of sigma nutrition. Where we discuss uh working with athletes and the effect of long term caloric deficits over extended periods of time and the effect that has on the body and the physiological processes that go on behind the scenes. Let's get this episode underway when we look at fighters for the most part fighters or athletes in general look at food as fuel. You know, if they're at the elite level, whereas the average person looks at food for joy, they eat for the hedonistic value, right?

Whereas athletes are looking at, right, what is this giving me? How is this fueling me? Um You know, so I think it's a great point that we do need to give athletes time to be a little bit flexible and start, you know, gradually increasing their calories over time. So they go through that metabolic adaptation, which is something we'll discuss in a moment, but um you know, they are eating a good amount of food to support their training, their recovery. Um they're not being super strict and you know, it gives that, like you said, it gives them that psychological freedom so that when they do sign a contract call, they've got a lot of they've got a lot of tools that they they've got access to now, whereas if they're dieting all year round and they're training three times a day, all year round there, hammering themselves with every single session, once they sign a contract, that one they're going to be fucking tired because most fighters never do a d load regards the nutrition or training, right? So, um when we give them that flexibility and these conversations where we educate them on this type of stuff, they go, cool, I can I can relax a little bit. I'm not gonna blow myself out, but I can kind of um reduce my stress a little bit around my eating and my training and things like that.

Focus on the other areas, you know, the rehabilitation and um gradually increasing your calories and getting your body fat percentage up a little bit and supporting that performance and recovery. So that, you know, essentially when you when you sign that contract, you're now at the start line in a fucking good place to be able to now put the put the pedal to the floor. Yeah, and I think what we know from white class based sports is a huge problem is this concept of low energy availability, where essentially there is not enough calories coming in to support both the training workload and certain essential processes within the body. So what the body does and how it adapts it has essentially save energy and turn down energy expenditure from some essential processes. So with female athletes, we see the super commonly where they experienced loss of their menstrual cycle. So Ayman area, which is basically a way of the body to conserve energy by saying right now, I don't need this reproductive function and I'm not getting enough calories in. So I'm just gonna turn this off.

The same thing happens with immune system function. Something happens with digestive function, bone health. And so you see this classification of what's now termed relative energy deficiency in sport is where we have a chronic low energy uh availability state. You have this manifesting in various different body systems. Like I said, well, that's reproductive bone health. So that means it's increasing risk of like stress fractures or even long term complications like osteopenia. Um, it's impacting immune system function. So now you have athletes more susceptible to illnesses and if you're ill, you're either not able to train properly or even missing training sessions, they stack up enough over multiple years. You're missing time that you're could be getting better at your craft. So there's all these components of of low energy availability. And what's important to realize is sure we may need to dip into that state during the tail end of times where we're getting super lean or an athlete's cutting weight, that's almost unavoidable, but we don't want that happening chronically over the long term.

So when we don't have a fight coming out, making sure we have appropriate energy to fuel all those training sessions and getting plenty of calories coming in is the way to prevent a lot of those downsides. So that the athlete doesn't run into those very real problems. Mm That's a great point because when someone is in a, you know, a caloric deficit for extended periods of time, um the body essentially thinks it's under threat, Right? It's fighting for survival. So like you said, it's going to start, you know, shutting down some of those 11 systems of the body or some of those systems are not going to be getting the required nutrients for optimal function. And particularly if you're training 2-3 times a day, you're literally robbing from Peter to pay Paul. You know, you're taking that energy away from the body's physiological processes to fuel your training session, right? So, you know, that's why I wanted to bring up this conversation, the difference between health and performance because those things really They kind of go in hand, but they don't as well.

So what I mean by that is we want someone to be healthy the majority of the time. So that when it is time to put the pedal to the floor now, we can start training for performance now we can start dialing everything in and we can go through that 8 to 12 week period of high stress um where we're cutting weight were um you know, building our strength speed, power energy systems, um etcetera were sharpening our schools, skills were sharpening our acts. Uh and we're reducing our weight as we get closer and closer to the fight, you know? But then on the other side, you know, the most people don't have that period. Ice planets, just like All right, cool. I signed a contract. I don't know how many calories I'm eating. I don't know um how many macronutrients I'm having. I'm already training to three times a day, you know, where do I go from here? You know, they've got to start pulling from somewhere, you know, and that's when you get into a massive calorie deficit and then you start creating metabolic adaptation and particularly on the other side of the fight or a weight class athlete competing in an event.

Then on the other side, people haven't been taught how to go through a reverse diet or have essentially a plan to come out of that. They've been restricting for long periods of time. We need to teach them how to come out the other side, you know, cool, go and enjoy yourself. Okay, but have it for a couple of days, Just understand your digestive system is probably going to be a little bit stressed out and you know, you're going to be super sensitive to certain things that come into your body, like alcohol and maybe if you smash a heap of carbs and things like that, you know, you might cause some indigestion and bloating and things like that, you know, have that understand that, have a couple of days to enjoy yourself, but also think like we've got a plan the other side of it, where we start going through a little bit of a reverse diet and then we start changing our training as well, where we, you know, we put our body under a shitload of stress for the last eight weeks, 12 weeks or whatever, let's have a plan nutritionally and um training wise to come out the other side so we can start rebuilding those health markers and get ourselves back to a good position. Full episode with Danny Landon of Sigma nutrition will be live on monday piece.

Is eating for health, and eating for performance the same thing?
Is eating for health, and eating for performance the same thing?
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