Friday, May 17, 2013

Metabolic Efficiency Success Story #1

I have decided to start sharing more success stories related to Metabolic Efficiency “journeys” from athletes and fitness enthusiasts to whom I provide nutrition coaching services.  There are some misconceptions out there in the sports nutrition and endurance athlete community regarding the purpose, implementation, and benefits of Metabolic Efficiency.  My intention is not only to share success stories from real athletes and individuals who desire a better health profile and improved racing performance, but also to periodically share some insight on the “ins and outs” of what we know now and what is still to come with Metabolic Efficiency.

This first story is about a gal I’ll call Ann. She is 39 years old, married with two young daughters. She was athletic throughout her upbringing but took on the sport of running about 3 years prior to our first meeting in 2011.  I began working with her to help with her goals of learning how to fuel for her training runs, help her family eat more healthfully, and to improve body composition slightly. Even though Ann had two half marathons on the racing schedule in 2011, the first priority was examining daily nutrition and making changes in line with the Metabolic Efficiency principles. (If you are brand new to this concept, you can learn more in the Fuel4mance books “Metabolic Efficiency Training: Teaching the Body to Burn More Fat” and “The Athlete’s Food Guide to Metabolic Efficiency” both available at

I guided her in changing some aspects of her daily nutrition that included:
  • increasing her daily protein intake
  • adding variety with protein sources
  • moderating her carbohydrate intake
  • educating her how to combine foods that optimize fat burning
  • attention to appetite and hunger levels
Ann had a good working knowledge of nutrition and she was extremely motivated. This made for easy adjustments to her daily nutrition patterns and her habits changed quickly. It is always fun for me to see my athletes make nutrition a priority... and then hear how much better they feel.

Within 3 weeks, she was within her goal body composition range and she reported feeling good energy, less hunger throughout the day, and training runs were feeling solid. She had become more metabolically efficient!  She went on to run successful and strong half marathons...and then she got the bug... the M bug. Marathon.

Because Ann is super-motivated and has an appreciation for working with an experienced sport dietitian, she contacted me again this year to help her prepare for her first marathon in May. The goals: tune up her metabolic efficiency, maintain body weight throughout training (so many first timers gain weight during training!), and just “finish strong” her first marathon (around 3:40-3:50). There was talk of trying to qualify for Boston, but I remember her saying that would be “a pipe dream”.

We checked on her daily nutrition patterns to fine-tune for metabolic efficiency, but we also spent some time doing some training nutrition trials with her long runs. She was using a well-respected coach out of Boulder, Colorado, so her training schedule was not easy by any means.  I introduced her to GenerationUCAN products since this would be complementary to her improved fat burning state she had achieved. After a couple trials, she was rocking and rolling with her long runs.

The outcome of this story is that not only did Ann run a super solid marathon, she qualified for Boston and smashed her expected finish time, ending up with a 3:32 finish. Some fueling details:
  • chocolate GenUCAN 45 minutes prior to the race start
  • 1/2 packet of cran-raz GenUCAN at 1:40 into race
  • 1/2 packet of cran-raz GenUCAN at 2:40 into race
  • 3/4 serving of GU Brew electrolyte throughout race in a handheld bottle
She consumed a total of 185 calories during her race, which means she averaged about 53 calories per hour.  Pretty impressive especially considering the current standards for sports nutrition state you should consume between 120 and 360 calories per hour or the dreaded BONK will occur.  Nope, not the case for Ann.  Her fat burning efficiency from the changes she had made with her daily nutrition and training nutrition (along with her training program) resulted in a super marathon performance. 

Next up... a story from a fat-adapted Boston marathoner.


1 comment:

  1. I'm training for a mid-November marathon where I would love to BQ! I've been gluten free for almost 4 yrs and then started phasing out grain. In the last 3-4 months, I've been eating paleo, with the exception of some whey protein (and maybe higher sugar or carb than pure paleo or ME eating). Not sure if I'm eating enough fat. I run first thing in the morning, fasted, water only along with MAP. Using almost no gel (on tough long runs, I may use some First Endurance Liquid Shot as I feel the need, but that's not more than ~100 cal/hr even running 4h). How can I tell if I'm doing things right for metabolic efficiency and being fat adapted - I can run long, still working on increasing speed. Masters female, so also looking for improved recovery and energy. Low energy overall a concern tho has improved on paleo. Starting to have midafternoon slump - could be nutrition or cortisol w/ higher mileage. Any words of wisdom welcome!