Imagine you’re in the middle of a car race. Your foot is pressing the gas all the way down. You’re pushing your car to the max. Strange sounds start to come from the engine. Smoke leaks from under the hood. Your car is overheating. It can’t go on for much further. You look over and see your opponent easily keeping up with you, a smile on his face. He looks at you, laughs, and puts the pedal to the metal. He slips past effortlessly. All around, cars pass, leaving yours last and running out of gas. What was the difference? You brought a six-cylinder engine to a twelve-cylinder race.
Our body’s fuel system isn’t much different than this scenario. You can push your training and your body to the max, but if your fuel system isn’t efficient, it won’t get you far. Others will blow right past you, without as much effort. Maximizing performance by increasing the efficiency of your fuel system has been the theme with Dr. Justin Mager and CrossFit Endurance founder Brian MacKenzie over the last few weeks. In the video below, they wrap up the talk with some key take-aways.
- Performance metrics need to be considered at every stage. Recording weights and tracking times are no brainers, but nutrition and its effect on performance also needs to be monitored.
- Different minerals are involved in breaking down fuel (food) into energy. By testing, monitoring, and manipulating those levels, you can have better control over how your engine works for you.
- Nutrition during training and performance-time should not look exactly the same. Caloric restriction and post-workout recovery (such as 3Fuel) during training will force your body to adapt to a more efficient fuel system. When it’s time to perform, pre-load on high-octane fuels (like carbs) for best results.
Over time, athletes become in-tune with their bodies. What type of workout works, when they perform the best, etc. In the same light, you should take the time to discover your fuel system, monitor the results, and eventually be able to know what best works for you. Don’t wait until the race to look under the hood–by then, it might be too late.