You have a goal race coming up, and you’re wondering, should you focus on being in your best shape and address your RED-S / REDs (Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport) after the race, or should you try and gain weight while you’re training?
Sports nutritionist Nancy Clark explains that you may be looking at the situation in the wrong way and discusses the effects that increasing your fuel consumption is likely to have on your race result.
Read the transcript
[Tina] If I have a goal race coming up, should I focus on training to be in my best shape and deal with this after, or should I try and gain some weight while training?
[Nancy] You’re making an assumption that if you fuel better, you are going to explode into fatness. If you fuel yourself better while you’re training, you will build more muscle, you will restore your muscle, you will have a bigger engine, and there’s a very likely possibility that you will start running better. You know, there are so many case studies of athletes who perform better when they’re better fueled. In fact, I don’t have any case studies of athletes that have not performed better, so it is amazing, the power of food.
And I I know of one runner who was training for the marathon and she was so under-fueled, and you know, I’m just, “Can you just eat a banana before you go on a long run?” and “Can you just eat a little bit more, at least beforehand, to put some gas in the tank?” And I saw her a week later and she said, “You know, I knocked a minute a mile off my training. I mean, my training really didn’t change, so it wasn’t that I was that much faster. I mean, could that have been related to food that I improved that much?” I go, “Yeah.”
So food is very, very powerful for enhancing performance. And there is no truth that the leanest athlete, the lightest athlete, is the best athlete. And so the cost of being light and lean is generally reduced performance. So experiment, give it a try. Try eating more and see what happens when you’re training, and I think you’ll find that you train better, and you’re going to a far happier place, in a better mood, and your muscles will be happy too. They might not be quite so sore, and you will recover a lot faster.
[Tina] While I think many people will hear you say that, what about when someone stands in the start area of a race and they look around, and they do feel like you know, you said it’s not true that smaller, skinnier equals faster, but they’re looking around and they’re saying, “Well, look at them, look at them, look at them.” What would you say to that?”
[Nancy] I would say to compare is to despair. Stop comparing. Look at the trees, look at the nice blue sky, just distract yourself, but if you start comparing to others, you will always come out in the worst place because your eyes are tainted. “Oh, she’s prettier than I am; she’s thinner than I am. Oh, she has better muscles than I do. Oh, I wonder if she’s faster than I. Oh, she’s more popular than I.” I mean, to compare is to despair, so you just have to live on your fantasy island where you and your body are good enough the way you are.And if you go off your island and start comparing, you’re missing the boat. It’s a bad place to be. So don’t go down that rabbit hole. Just stay on your island, and be really confident that you’re well-fueled, strong, powerful, well-trained, well-rested. There’s so many things that go into performance, and weight is not the biggest factor at all.
[Tina] Thank you.
check it out
Recovering from RED-S is hard. It’s even harder if you’re working through it alone. Even if you have professional support, they’re not available 24-7, and that can lead to going down search engine rabbit holes that have the potential to derail everything.
Our online resource, RED-S: Realize. Reflect. Recover, will answer all those questions swimming around in your head about recovery. It will give you the opportunity to connect with the experts you’ve come to know here, and to surround yourself with a community of others who are going through it too. THANK YOU! to Athletic Greens and Tracksmith for supporting this YouTube series and RED-S: Realize. Reflect. Recover.
Go to athleticgreens.com/reds to get five free travel packs of AG1 and a free one year’s supply of vitamin D3+K2 with your subscription!
When you go to https://tracksmith.com/tina and use the code TINA15 at checkout, you’ll get free shipping and Tracksmith will donate 5% of your order to Rising Hearts, the Indigenous-led nonprofit founded by Jordan Marie Daniels.
more about nancy:
Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD has a successful sports nutrition private practice in the Boston area. She has years of experience helping active clients—from “ordinary mortals” to Olympians—win with good nutrition. Her best-selling “Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook” has sold over 800,000 copies. It is a popular resource for reliable sports nutrition information, as is her online sports nutrition workshop. Nancy is a sought-after nutrition counselor for athletes who struggle with food-and weight issues, as well as a nutrition speaker popular with dietitians, trainers, coaches, and other health professionals. You can find her at https://nancyclarkrd.com/.