The real question however is if this makes any difference to fat loss or performance. Venuto quotes Lyle McDonald, an expert on bodybuilding nutrition and author of The Ketogenic Diet.
“All that research says is that you burn a greater proportion of fat this way, which I agree with 100%,” says Lyle. “The majority of research shows that as far as real world fat loss goes, it doesn’t really matter what you burn. Rather, 24-hour calorie balance is what matters. Because if you burn glucose during exercise, you tend to burn more fat the rest of the day. If you burn fat during exercise, you burn more glucose during the day. The end result is identical.”
The second key difference between men and women athletes says Kiefer is,
“For women in particular, one 45 minute bout of cardiovascular exercise at a heart rate above 65% will shut down the major metabolic regulator, T3 [Thyroid hormone] for about a week. So one day of over doing it, and you’ve shut down your metabolism for a week. This is unique to females. That’s a huge misconception, ‘if I need to lose weight, I need to run more, or be on the bike more, or get more cardio’; for women, it’s the opposite. This will make it much, much, harder.”
From my personal experience I would say his second point is right on the money – hello Rachel Cosgrove Experiment and the best results the Gym Buddies and I ever got! – but I’m still not sure about his first one.
In my years as a fitness nut – emphasis on the nut – I have tried everything when it comes to meal and workout timing. I did the only-fruit-for-brekkie thing courtesy of the Skinny Bitches (the book, I’m not calling anyone that) which ended with me leaving class light headed and nauseous to sit next to an old man who asked me if I was pregnant. For a couple of years fasted-state worked great for me but that was because I worked out at 5 a.m. (I miss you L!) and my stomach definitely did not want food that early. When I went through my carb-fearing phase, I loaded up on eggs and spinach which wasn’t bad but I felt like I was lacking some spring in my step. And then there was the 5 straight years of some kind of oatmeal concoction every morning – not bad with a chopped apple and walnuts, gag-worthy with a whole scoop of protein powder, most creatively done as an egg custard.
These days however it’s anything goes. That’s the beauty of Intuitive Eating – I eat what I feel like. Yesterday I had eggs scrambled with salmon and veggies (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!). The day before it was an apple. This morning it was German pancakes, whipped cream, berries, a fried egg, two strips of (pastured, all beef, nitrate-free) bacon and half a pound of asparagus. What? I was hungry! Like many other things in my life, I find that my pre-workout nutrition is best when I just go with what I feel like that day. But maybe what makes me happy isn’t best for my body? Why does research always generate more questions than it answers??
What’s your pre-workout eating philosophy? What do you think about women needing less carbs and less cardio than men because of our physiology? Anyone else burp up nasty stuff during a workout??