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  • sarahjanefehlberg

Eat less, train more? WTF?

Updated: Jul 2, 2019

As a personal trainer, nutritionist and naturopath - Im getting a bit fed up with the fads, the diets, the 8 week challenges, the oversold and undereducated biased advice out there thats detrimental to not only our clients health but to your profession within the "health and wellness" space.

When it comes to nutrition - I am constantly re-educating clients about putting nutrients back into their diet instead of taking things out.

I am constantly having to justify nutrition advice that "health professionals" have "prescribed"

Common fads or trends


Excess protein

Eating less and doing more HIIT classes

Removing Food groups

No Carb Diets

I'm here to air the dirty laundry out

The Key target areas for nutritional medicine prescription for exercise are;

  • Energy in vs energy out - and this is not calculated as a deficit! Your body needs fuel to perform!

  • Performance – based on intake of food prior to training (yes thats right, stop just having coffee!)

  • Recovery – nutrition, hydration levels, rest, stretch, massage, bathing, perception that not resting is good for you to PUSH ON - sorry but rest=adaption

Common Difficulties that present when nutritional intake and mind are not in line;

  • Gastrointestinal disturbances

  • Suppression of appetite when a person is stressed or running on cortisol

  • Logistics and time for food prep

  • Inadequate food intake to meet energy demands

  • Dehydration

  • Lack of sleep from lack of carbohydrates

  • Minimising the gap between energy expenditure vs attaining adequate dietary intake

  • Matching energy output vs activity

  • Common GI challenges that hinder intake include nausea, abdominal cramping, bloating, diarrhoea, vomiting, flatulence, and belching. These issues are more common as intensity and/or duration increase especially with endurance athletes

  • Failure to restore energy with food between training sessions delays recovery and effects performance.

  • Sustained fatigue and fatigue on waking and/or not being able to go to sleep or wanting to sleep for forever (a common sign of adrenal depletion due to not fuelling the body properly)

  • Body Pain/Headaches/inability to recover





The body’s capacity to utilise nutrients effectively to sustain performance

Endurance = unique physiological demands OF INDIVIDUALS - NOT A STOCK STANDARD EQUATION.

Remembering that Carbohydrates, Fats, Proteins can be used by the body at any given time therefore all are needed!

This is Dependant on




Type of exercise

For example

A standard marathon pace 80-90% of maximal oxygen consumption VO2max or above – here carbohydrates will be his or her primary fuel source and provides 96% of the energy needed for this pace will be from carbohydrates.

Preparation is Key – Fuel (FOOD) is most important energy being expended.

At lower intensities – the fuel that is needed is fat – such as walking or less time under load, lower availability means the body depends on fat and protein – so in-between training this needs to be thought about also.

Adequate energy for working out means adequate carbohydrate intake.

Therefore maximising the availability of Carbohydrates is KEY.

Low glycogen availability is a direct stimulus for fatigue.

Glycogen stored in the muscle provides fuel - end of story! How is glycogen produced? BY CARBOHYDRATE!

Loading of appropriate carbohydrates enhances performance – improving energy and lessons fatigue. Not to mention calms the cortisol - very important for balanced hormones, sleep, mood and weight loss!

When training athletes or general population on how to properly get their carbohydrate load

Techniques I use include

Tapering exercise over the final days before marathon

Ensuring carbohydrate intake of 10-12grams per kilo per day over 36-48 hours prior to racing.

Burke and Hawley suggest 8-12g of carbohydrates per body weight per day. With a more precise amount dependant of the training! Remembering in racing all events/training end in deficit of Carbohydrates.

Still deleting Carbohydrates from your diet?

Lets talk about FAT baby!

Fat provides more energy per gram – basically we want to narrow the energy gap of OUT Vs IN

Training enhances an athlete’s capacity for fat oxidation during training.

Eating fat – SPARES carbohydrate in the muscle for when it is needed most. - might want to read that again ...

Fat oxidation creates energy – increasing exercise capacity and performance.

Often when we test ketones – this indicates fat metabolism

LOW CARBOHYDRATES STILL? - EXPECT increases in muscle protein breakdown...

Recovery equation

1.0–1.5 g/kg at 2 h intervals for the first 6 h and beginning within the first 30 min following exercise appears to be an effective strategy for recovery

In sports nutrition it is recommended carbohydrate intake is sufficient between training sessions. This promotes restoration of muscle glycogen between training sessions. Recovery between workouts requires optimal nutrition and rest. Epsom salt baths, stretching, adequate protein, carbohydrates and good fats. This should be counted as PART of your training. Its not seperate - rest is just as important if not more than the movement you are doing !

A diet deficient in adequate carbohydrate impairs performance and the immune system when carried out for extended periods.

In terms of during races and running some natural foods to take/use

some examples below

· 2-3 Medjool Dates

· 2-3 Figs

· Mashed Sweet potato - to carry you put in a bag and squeeze out the corner into your mouth - I know you want to eliminate plastic but this will mean one sandwich bag and not 20 gels.

· Slices of apple

· Can also mash a banana in sweet potato for added electrolytes and potassium

Yes yes - you are all asking so where does protein come in?

PROTEIN = Synthesis and repair after training – for greater muscle power and aerobic capacity

Greater need for protein in athletes. 20g of protein at 3-4 hour intervals – double for events at least.

20g at least for 30-60min post exercise. (FOR ATHLETES! ) An athlete is someone who trains more than 2 hours per day 5-6 days per week. If you just go to the gym a few sessions a week, you don't need to be smashing protein, you need to make sure its adequate but lets not be crazy about it!.

The rate of muscle breakdown is accelerated when muscle protein oxidation exceeds synthesis, which usually occurs in proportion to intensity and duration of the sporting activity

Don't put yourself on a fad diet because you feel like thats a quick fix. Seek professional guidance from a Nutritionist who can look into how you train and what YOU need - needs are different for men and women, so are our hormones and cortisol. This all plays a role in how we should be fuelling for exercise and eating for recovery.

Most of all, eat intuitively - listen, tune in - your body tells you what it needs!

If any of this has sparked questions feel free to reach out. I'd love to hear from you!

In health, carb load and loving,

Sarah x

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