How do you beat your sweet tooth???
How do serious athletes avoid eating junk food???
Over the past several weeks I have been dodging fast food, candy, simple carbs, and any other “fad” for you food I could think of. Sadly, however, the struggle with my sweet tooth has not dulled. Fed up with this, I took a deeper dive into why we love eating garbage.
Primates are omnivorous which means we will eat just about anything that rolls, swims, walks, or flies by us that we can digest without serious repercussions. This is because we are opportunistic predators: Throughout our evolutionary history we have had to obtain the energy needed to survive from any resource we could find. As a result, we are hard wired to search out the most energy rich foods because these will yield the highest reward for the work we put into hunting and gathering.
We still do this today but instead of running, climbing, or lifting for several hours we sit, walk, and shop for our sustenance. Fortunately for us we do not need to run for our lives in order to maintain a healthy diet. This land of plenty, however, has led to an excess availability of the wrong type of food for a non-active lifestyle and poor eating habits are tough to break!
To train for a half marathon I have been running 5 nights out of the week and have since reached a consistent 4-mile run every night. I have had far more energy throughout the day but would be lying if I said I had not eaten my fair share of “cheat foods” following my workouts. When discussing this with my physician, who was once a professional athlete, he informed me that I was thinking about my diet backwards. Instead of deciding the foods to cut out I should find out what I needed to include.
It is counter-productive to grapple with our nature so instead of avoiding specific foods or food groups, I should think of what I eat as a fuel source like gas is to a car. The distance or goals one wants to achieve can be reached by adding the proper amount of the right energy mix: protein, carbohydrates, and even simple sugars are necessary for a variety of resistance, endurance, and power training.
With this in mind, “Food is fuel” is now my mantra these days. Instead of avoiding carbohydrates and trying to load up on protein I will be portioning out foods so I can hit my athletic and aesthetic goals without overfilling the tank, so to speak.
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