Being a early adopter of wholefoods for racing has posed a few challenges due to the lack of previous application and this often leaves you having to learn through trial and error, or the ‘hard way’. This was one of those times, but in this case it was more of a personal calculation error rather than the nutritional approach itself. (See part 1 for more information on calculation error)
One of my aims for Ironman was to shed light on another fueling option for athletes. Especially for those struggling with the traditional methods, with the hope improving performance but also overall health. With all the emerging evidence in this space, I wanted to use my journey to test and prove first hand that it could be done. However, due to my overly laxed approach I didn’t really take the time needed to properly calculate my race nutrition and as a result I paid for it. Many people would choose to hide this information but I believe in transparency. Failure is apart of growth, and hopefully others can learn from my mistakes, I know I have.
Let’s Do the Numbers
I have since calculate my nutrition against energy expended on the day. I included absolutely everything from pre-race to finishing (besides water, I lost count..). Sadly I also don’t have my own data for the exact energy expended (Garmin fell off bike and stopped working…) but going off average Ironman energy expenditure of 8,000-10,000 calories I selected 9,000 calories to work off. That means to maintain weight I would need to attain 12,510 calories! Let’s be honest that is not possible and would be extremely impressive to do in an Ironman without gastrointestinal distress. I have thoroughly read through the research to get some insight into what I should of achieved but sadly due to the individualized nature there is minimal guidelines. The added hurdle is being a fat adapted athlete in era when all the previous research is based around carbohydrates. This makes it very difficult to apply the research to my experience and other ‘fat adapted/wholefood’ athletes experiences. You would assume and expect we would be impacted by our chosen nutrition in a different way.
With no normative data too work off, it really comes down to trial and error and talking with other athletes and coaches in this space. After talking to Megan one week post Ironman (Discussed in part 1) and compiling my race nutrition numbers, it doesn’t really need any normative data comparisons to identify how much of a deficit I raced in…. Finally an explanation for hitting the wall in the marathon!! But really at this point all I can do is laugh at how silly of a mistake it was.
What did I Eat?
As you will see below I have listed my full Ironman nutrition, initially you will notice it is a lot different to most. You will see no gels, some athletes will rely completely on gels for race nutrition and this can often lead to extreme gastrointestinal (GI) distress. This is not only bad from a GI distress standpoint but from a health standpoint (I will discuss this in more detail in future blog posts).
- Breakfast = Pre Race
- Lunch = On the Bike
- Dinner = On the Run
Apart from the extreme deficit and wholefoods approach the next thing you may notice is an extremely high sodium level, which if I am honest I didn’t really consider prior to racing or when calculating my nutrition one week post Ironman. However, it is something I will be touching on in future blog posts as sodium levels are different in HFLC athletes.
Interesting Takeaway: Fat adapted athlete and hitting the wall
Interestingly enough when I ‘hit my wall’ aka ‘bonked’ it was not like a traditional high carbohydrate based athlete, who will often find themselves in an absolute state and will really struggle to continue. Although at a much slower intensity than I would of liked, I had the ability to keep going. This left me to question the effects of racing in a significant fuel deficit as a fat adapted athlete compared with a traditional carbohydrate burner. Did I hit a wall by depleting my carbohydrate stores but now had the ability to to tap into my fat stores allowing me to keep going? Is this why I lost so much weight? 6kgs across my race…was this solely dehydration or a combination of both? This is just personal experience but interesting to ponder. Something I want to leave no room for error in future and will aim to quantify.
Coming up Next:
Debunk Traditional Beliefs in the Endurance Community