Hands up who runs before breakfast, without taking in any food?
Up until last weekend, 95% of the time this was me! For the last 20 years! (Eek)
This week I have really had my eyes opened to why was not in my best interests…
We hear lots of runners talking about their fasted runs being amazing and how strong they feel, intermittent fasting and keto seem to be becoming popular for many runners. (Although, my reason for running fasted was simply that I like to run early in the morning, and I didn’t feel hungry! I love carbs!)
So, why the dramatic turn around in making sure I have some fuel on board before I head out?
If you’ve known me for a little while, you probably understand that I believe in continuing to learn and try to keep challenging myself to think outside of the box, because we are all individual and react and respond slightly differently to, well – everything!
I am currently studying with Dr Stacy Sims on her “Women Are Not Small Men” programme, learning how men and women respond differently to exercise, recovery, and nutrition. Specifically, learning to enable women to train more effectively by helping them to understand their physiology. How as women can work with our body, rather than often feeling we are fighting against it.
The answer isn’t simply “shrink it and pink it”!
Because as much as men and women equal, we are different.
Did you know most training programmes and sports nutrition products are designed for men? – because most of the research is done on men! Apparently, the menstrual cycle and the hormone changes that happen in women make it TOO DIFFICULT to carry out the research on women. Never mind that we make up 50% of the population…
It’s hardly surprising that many active women struggle to reach their full potential.
Back to breakfast…so I have been running fasted most of the time. This increases the cortisol (stress hormone) and whilst men would have an increase in their parasympathetic (rest and digest) activity, so they can be more relaxed and mentally fresh. In women, it fires up our sympathetic system (fight or flight) which over time can lead to disrupted menstrual cycles, higher anxiety and stress, impaired performance and often weight gain!
Hmm, I don’t think I want to be doing that anymore!
Has making a change been difficult? No. Half a banana or some plain Greek yoghurt is enough before a short easy run and I don’t need to get up any earlier. Win.
Do I feel better? Yes. Because I now understand I wasn’t looking after myself appropriately and in the long term this will benefit not only my overall health but my running too.
Do I notice improved performance? Ha ha – it’s only been a week! Patience is required just as it is in training.
“so many women are still getting the message that intermittent fasting and keto are the way to go for mental focus, high performance, and weight loss. And it is simply not true….if you’re a woman, it can be harmful to both your performance and your health.” (Sims, S. 2021)
*Ps This is not intended as nutritional advice – but I hope some of you will find this useful information to consider…
PPS I am going to be looking for some female volunteers shortly – if you found this interesting, watch this space! x