Don’t count calories…but do keep an eye on them

The reason I’ve written this post is not to encourage people to spend all their time counting calories because I don’t believe that is the way to enjoy a healthy life. However there is something to be said for keeping an eye on how many you consume and what foods you get them from. It might seem like a contradictory statement but please keep reading.

The reason I am highlighting the importance knowing how many calories you’re consuming is this, if you don’t put enough calories into your body then you can’t perform at your best when it comes to your training. It might seem silly to highlight the importance of knowing what you put in your body, especially in world obsessed with counting calories, but not keeping an eye on my calorie intake led to me having a training fail.

On Sunday morning I had scheduled a 60-minute Watt Bike session followed by a Body Balance class, however I ended only completing a 45-minute Watt Bike ride and missing the class. The story begins with me oversleeping and losing an hour of my day. Due to me having an extra 60 minutes of sleep I had to choose between the Watt Bike and the Body Balance class. With my 100-mile bike ride less than 12 weeks away I decided to forego the class and just do the ride.

I started pretty well and for the first 30 minutes I was in the zone, however a crash was just around the corner. Having completed triathlons and half marathons I know the difference between a mental barrier and a physical one and on Sunday I hit a physical one head on. At 35 minutes my legs began to tire and despite trying to fight the tiredness it wasn’t long before both my cadence and power output dropped significantly. It was clear that although I was mentally fine my body didn’t have the fuel to keep going. Having completed 45 minutes I got off the bike and almost fell on the floor. I just didn’t have the energy in my body to function properly.

In hindsight it was great that I overslept as there is no way I would’ve made it through a Watt Bike session and then a Body Balance class. After I had recovered (eaten a big lunch) I looked back over my food diary and realised that I had not been fuelling my body correctly for few days. I had been eating healthy food but not enough of it. Once I realised this I decided to make a change. Since Monday morning I have been using MyFitnessPal to track my food/calorie intake to make sure I am eating a minimum of 2,500 calories a day although my target is 2,500 to 3,000. So far I have hit my targets and it is no surprise that I feel a lot more energetic!

If you have experienced something similar or you are struggling to take your training to the next level then I urge you to have a look at the quantity and the quality of food you have been consuming. Quantity is important but so is the source. I am no nutritional expert but I know enough to be able to tell you that 100 calories from a sweet potato is better for you than 100 calories from two custard creams!

As my training ramps up I am going to be eating more and more and then is definitely one of the perks of training so much. However to ensure I don’t have another training failure I am going to be keeping a close eye on my calorie intake.


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