Monday, September 23, 2013

Energy Neutral

I am starting this blog because I feel like there aren't very many out there that cover vegetarian nutrition from a female athlete's point of view. There are many great blogs out there from male vegetarian athletes (my favorite is No Meat Athlete) and from other awesome women (Healthy. Happy. Life. posts recipes for some of the most delicious vegan food I've ever tried) but I'm going to try to tell the story from a vegetarian female competitive athlete's point of view.

Why "energy neutral"? Well, to be energy neutral, the amount of energy you are expending in training must be matched by your caloric intake. The term energy neutral was coined and is in use by the rowing national team systems in the US, Great Britain, and Canada (among others, I'm sure). When your training is energy neutral, you aim to take in all of the calories you burn in a training session in a time period from one hour before to one hour after that training session. For athletes in sports where lower weights are advantageous, many naturally shy away from this pattern of eating, as exercise is the easiest way to achieve a caloric deficit and to balance your calories during a long workout requires eating a really significant amount of food! However, many athletes find that when they switch over to energy neutral training, they are less hungry at other times and they recover faster too.

Every endurance athlete knows what it's like to get too far into caloric debt and bonk, hit a wall, ect. At this point any returns from your training are severely minimized and all you're thinking about is your survival. If you've raced or seriously trained... you know the feeling. It's the feeling of impending doom, the one that caused me to think that my first energy gel tasted like "liquid courage" 90 minutes into my very first road race. Hence, the first part of being successful in any endurance endeavor is to be energy neutral. Similarly, I hope this blog will provide an "energy neutral" look at food, nutrition, and training!

That's all for now. A recipe post will follow soon! Thanks for reading.

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