We currently have 9 dogs that we train and compete with in herding competitions. We train on a daily basis, locally as well as nationally. (www.fourmileaussies.com is our kennel website.)
I can tell you for sure that a hungry dog isn’t at his best. Hungry dogs are quicker to get in a fight, but they may not necessarily win. When we compete with our dogs, not only do we need physical strength but also we need mental sharpness. (The dog has to obey some pretty complex commands when taking the livestock through the course.) A dog that is hungry (or hasn’t eaten the morning of a competition) tends to get tired when things get tough (i.e., he won’t work as hard to turn back a running cow.)
They also get mentally sloppy as the day wears on. They will forget what ‘right’ and ‘left’ means sometimes. Or they will get sloppy and allow one sheep to split from the group and they won’t bother putting it back. All this sloppiness results in losing points during your run.
Since our dogs can’t talk to us, we have to observe their behavior and adjust their nutrition based on the results we see. I can tell you for sure, that a dog that has had several small meals (or snacks) throughout the day lasts longer, tries harder and is mentally sharper than a dog that skipped breakfast and has only had water to drink. I think dogs are pretty much like humans.
I’m thinking any coach that gave that advice never trained dogs!
I am in the process of revising The Cyclist’s Food Guide. I’m looking for “words of nutrition wisdom” from cyclists of all abilities. Just a few sentences of what you wished you had known before you bonked … your secret to maintaining energy … the food mistake you made.
Here’s an example of what I want:
“For long rides, I drink orange juice and tomato juice, which I can get at convenience stores. Both juices are potassium-rich and the tomato juice has sodium, which helps me feel better on the ride.”
Come to the University of South Florida for this information-packed workshop that is geared to helping health professionals teach an effective nutrition message to exercisers and athletes. 10 hours of continuing education with myself and exercise physiologist/protein researcher WIlliam Evans PhD.
Non-professionals who want learn how to enhance their sports diet are also welcome. A good time is had by all!
“I don’t eat much before I compete because my coach told me a hungry dog fights harder. Right?” asked this high school cross-country runner who had made an appointment with me to figure out how to enhance his performance. The simple answer was: a hungry dog might fight harder, but a hungry teenage runner will drag through events and be in a bad mood. He agreed.
Too many people think exercising on empty is a smart idea. I have yet to see research that supports that belief. The studies consistently indicate that pre-exercise fuel enhances performance. Just as your car runs better with fuel, your body runs better when appropriately fed. Pre-exercise food boosts your energy, enhances your ability to focus and concentrate on the task at hand, enhances stamina and endurance—to say nothing of puts you in a better mood. Why be tired and grumpy when a pre-run granola bar, banana or pretzels could boost your energy and your spirits?
Granted, some people have trouble difficulty tolerating a full meal pre-run, but most active people can enjoy 200 to 300 calories of some fruit, bread or energy bar. Give it a try? Experiment, observe the benefits (or costs), and tweak your diet accordingly.
Many morning exercisers believe they should exercise on empty, so that they will burn more fat. While that may be true, burning fat differs from losing body fat. Losing body fat depends on your calorie intake for the entire day. That is, you can do a fat-burning workout in the morning but then erase that calorie deficit with a big scone and a latte, followed by generous meals the rest of the day. (You know, the hearty meals you “deserve to eat” because you had a hard workout earlier in the day…)
The benefits of eating before a morning workout include:
-You’ll have a better workout.
-You’ll feel more alert and have energy to enjoy the workout.
-You’ll provide your muscles with the fuel it needs to optimize performance.
-You’ll be able to train harder and get more from your efforts.
-You’ll help curb the hungry horrors after the workout.
If you want to lose body fat, I suggest you plan to do that when you are sleeping, not exercising! (Sleep, after all, is a fat burning activity--if you still thank that burning fat equates to losing body fat.) Your better bet is to fuel by day, have energy to enjoy an active lifestyle, and then diet (eat a little bit less) at night. Give it a try?
For more information on how to lose weight and maintain energy for exercise, take a look at the weight loss section in my Sports Nutrition Guidebook. The information will give a kick-start to your New Year’s Nutrition Resolutions.
“What should I do to jump-start my diet?” my client earnestly inquired. She was ready to get back on track after having gained three pounds over the holidays and was eager to lose that weight plus seven more “quick loss” pounds to get to her "happy weight.”
“Don’t bother jump starting your diet!” I responded. Here’s why:
Dieters who lose weight quickly by severely restricting their calories inevitably regain the weight, if not more. That's because the body overcompensates for extreme dieting (extreme hunger) with overeating. Just as you will gasp for air after having been trapped under water without oxygen, you will devour food after having been denied calories during a crash diet.
Hunger is physiological. Just as your body needs air to breathe, your body also needs fuel to function. Extreme hunger is simply an urgent request for fuel. Crash diets lead to binge eating (also called “blowing your diet”). This overeating has little to do with your "having no willpower" and lots to do with the physiology of hunger.
Yes, you can white-knuckle yourself to stick to your crash diet, but your well-meaning plan to quickly shed some pounds has a high likelihood of exploding into a demoralizing pattern of yoyo dieting. You’ll inevitably end up gaining more weight than you lose. Don't go there.... it’s depressing.
The average person makes 200 food decisions a day. No wonder grocery shopping can be mind-boggling and a source of overwhelming confusion! A trip to the supermarket requires thousands of food decisions.
If you are left confused about whether to buy organic or standard foods, fresh or frozen vegetables, or low-fat or fat-free milk, you might find solace in this new book, Read it Before You Eat It: How to Decode Food labels and Make the Healthiest Choice Every Time by Bonnie Taub-Dix RD. Bonnie has done a great job of explaining how to buy the best foods for your health.
Her first caution is: be aware of how the grocery store is set up. You will be greeted with freshly baked bread and fresh flowers—items that tend to be “unplanned purchases” … and that’s exactly what the store owners want from you. To their advantage, about 60% to 70% of food purchases are unplanned. So, this year, go shopping with a food plan for the week, a list of what you need to buy, your guard up!