I like to eat - a lot. Sometimes my "off" switch doesn't work when I'm presented with food I thoroughly enjoy. Because of this I often wonder how heavy I'd be if I didn't also thrive on physical activity. It's a sure bet that I'd be significantly larger. Thankfully my love of food and training tend to balance themselves out, but it doesn't mean I haven't had to work at finding the right equilibrium to be able to stay relatively lean and perform at my best.
After years of studying nutrition and being my own guinea pig, I have a simple and specific philosophy about food: eat with a purpose. This means much more than eating to curb hunger.
Eating with a purpose means making smart food choices to fuel whatever it is you want to accomplish with your meal. I want to be able to train and compete at my best, and a huge part of that is being intentional about what I put in my body. Whether it's going on a big ride in the mountains, sneaking in a quick weekday interval session, or having an easy recovery day, fueling yourself appropriately for the task at hand is the only way to maximize your long-term performance.
Long, hard days on the bike require plenty of fuel!
For those cringing at the thought of giving up their favorite indulgence, I'm not talking about denying yourself the treats you crave from time to time. Rather, it's about knowing the time and place to eat such things so they have minimal adverse impact and are possibly even put to good use. Food should be enjoyed!
For me, eating with a purpose also involves going without food when I'm utilizing intermittent fasting (IF), as I've discussed previously. While not my primary reason for fasting, IF can be practiced to help balance things out after I've overindulged. It can even be put to use before occasions like holiday meals where you know you'll have a tough time sticking to a reasonable limit. Just don't fall into the trap of thinking a fast is needed every time you eat a little something extra.
Many people spend crazy sums geeking out on bikes and other equipment (myself included) with the hope of performing better. It only makes sense to make a similar level of commitment to nutrition since we are the engines driving our bikes. Think about it, if you’re riding at least decent equipment and don’t experience any mechanicals, your body will be the primary limiting factor. That bike isn’t going to go any faster than you can pedal it. The same thing applies to other endurance sports, although the equipment typically isn't anywhere near as expensive.
You don't have to eat it all!
So instead of eating everything that ends up in front of you this holiday season, try to put thought into what your body needs and make choices based on what you will be doing over the next several hours. At the same time, remember that there is no such thing as a perfect diet and don't get too stressed about enjoying the pie, turkey, stuffing, gravy, and whatever else your holiday meals bring!
In addition to good food, Brian likes to get high - or as high as his bike will take him.
For more on eating around the holidays, check out You vs. Pie : A Guide to Winning the Holidays .