What does it mean to be wildly well? As an athlete, trainer, and women’s health advocate based in Bend, Oregon, Abbi Hamlin empowers women through personal training, nutrition coaching, and fostering community for women athletes.
In this episode, we’ll explore the essential components of an effective nutrition plan designed to fuel female athletes during training, races, and outdoor activities. Whether you’re just beginning your fitness journey or a seasoned athlete, our conversation has tons of valuable insights for you.
Demystify the world of athletic nutrition and gain practical tips for optimizing your performance through proper diet and lifestyle. Discover how to nourish your body and mind as I chat with Abbi about her mission to help every woman feel empowered in the outdoors.
Nutrition Key Takeaways
- How to make sure you’re eating enough
- Building blocks of a nutrition plan
- Decoding carbohydrates and carbo-loading
- Some pre-ride or pre-race meal examples
- How much protein do you need
- Why you need to eat some fat
- Considering your rest day nutrition
- Should you fast as an athlete?
- How to eat while you’re training
- How to use caffeine to your advantage
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- Learn more about Abbi’s company Wildly Well
- Listen to this episode with Stacy Sims about how women should train differently than men
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- Abi’s background. 0:02
- The importance of nutrition and nutrition tracking. 3:22
- Building blocks for nutrition. 9:07
- The difference between complex vs. simple carbohydrates. 12:00
- Carbohydrates for endurance athletes. 16:31
- Protein recommendations for athletes. 18:46
- How much fat do you need to start with? 23:23
- Fasting and intermittent fasting for athletes. 28:48
- Misconceptions about women’s health. 32:08
- What should you eat during your workout? 39:24
- Examples of what to eat on a ride. 42:13
- Caffeine as an ergogenic aid. 48:24
Abbi, welcome to the show.
Hi, thank you. Thanks for having me here. I’m excited.
I’m so excited to find about find out about your work. We are both ever athlete ambassadors. And you did a wonderful presentation for all of us. And the way that you described how to have your own sport nutrition plan was had so much clarity behind it. I think that sports nutrition is and nutrition in general is really murky and really challenging for a lot of people and can be super confusing on what to do. So, yeah, I was stoked to have you on the show to talk about that.
Yeah, yeah, thank you. I know, I feel like there can be so much just confusion around nutrition, especially on social media, you hear so many different things. And it can be a really hard world to navigate, especially as an athlete, because our needs are very different than just kind of general population too. So yeah, hopefully, kind of what I put out there, my goal is to make nutrition, a really easy and even like fun field, I feel like it should be should be fun and enjoyable to learn how to feel your body. So.
So let’s talk about your background a little bit. I know that you have quite a story, and I’d love to hear how you became interested in nutrition.
Yeah, yeah. So I have grown up kind of just an athlete my whole life. My parents were both super active. I grew up in a small town in Washington. And when I was young, I did a bunch of different sports. But when I was in middle school was kind of when I actually battled my just relationship with food at that time. So I feel like that could be a story for another time. But it took me a while to kind of get through things. But I feel like all through high school, I was still under fueling my body. And I was swimming competitively and running. And I ended up running track and cross country in college. And I feel like that’s kind of one things caught up to me. And I found myself just super injured all the time. Like I was injured more than I was able to compete. I feel like I would do a race basically, like hate myself together to get through the race and then spend a long time trying to recover had just a ton of nagging injuries. So anyways, when I was in that injury time, I saw a massage therapist a couple times a week and I think she had kind of a good sense of like, what was going on. And she gave me a book to read called roar by Dr. Stacey Sims probably heard of that. I’m sure a lot of people have but we so I read that book. And I feel like that really just sparked an interest in me. And it was kind of a game changer for me because I just realized one like how much I wasn’t feeling my body properly. And then to just the like importance of nutrition. And I feel like I saw nutrition in a new light of like, wow, this is so cool. And such like a powerful tool that we can use to help help our performance and everything. So that really sparked kind of my journey in in sports nutrition. So I just kind of dove into studying nutrition, a little bit in college and then going on to sports nutrition internship and, and now, here I am. So I always say that I feel like my, my journey started out as kind of like a selfish one to like, figure out what was wrong with me. And but it led me to my career path now. So
yeah, I mean, I have I think that research is often research. And I think that something that is becoming really well something that’s becoming something that is very apparent is that we used to think that food is just going to impact how you look, we know we used to not think so much about food is impacting my performance. Food is impacting whether I’m injured or not. I think that’s a really big one. And I think these conversations are so important. And they’re important, especially for female athletes and all of the different runners who have been coming forward especially if you’re like the Nike, Oregon project around how, how body image dysmorphia, dysmorphia and eating disorders and all of these things are are super prevalent, especially amongst teenage and college female athletes.
Yeah, yeah, totally. Yeah, I think that people are starting to talk about it more, bring more awareness to it, which I think is good. And I think that my hope is with more awareness on all that we can start educating young girls in the right way and teaching them how to feel their bodies properly and hope hopefully, preventing a lot of those struggles that even I dealt with in college and stuff. So.
So what have been the biggest changes that you’ve made personally since studying sports nutrition to your own nutrition plan?
Yeah, I mean, I think the biggest thing is, is just making sure I’m eating enough. I think like, even in college, even if it wasn’t intentional, I think I was still under fueling quite a bit, just not realizing like how much it takes to like feel your body before and after run runs. And when you’re super active, and you’re also a college student, and very just like walking around throughout the day and all of that, like you need a to bring to be bringing in a lot of energy in in order to get the best output in your performance. I’d say that is like the biggest thing. And then I think also, if we’re getting a little bit more detailed, I think upping like, my protein intake specifically has been huge, and just kind of my own journey.
Okay, so eating enough calories, you said is something that’s really important? How do people know how many calories they need to eat? And then a second part to that question is a lot of people don’t want to track what they’re eating all the time. So how do you know you’re getting enough? If you don’t want to be tracking it constantly?
Yeah, I mean, I think that every person is going to be super different. So again, like, it’s nutrition is so nuanced to the individual, just because we all are, have different activities throughout the day, even other than our training. But I think that making sure you’re getting adequate, adequate fuel around your training is really important. And that kind of can help. Even if like, say, your, throughout the day, you burn like 3500 calories or something, and you only eat 3000 As an athlete, even if you can get those calories in like around your training, you might not necessarily see the negative effects of the overall load being a little bit less than what you burned, if that makes sense. Um, but I think that, as far as like, the tracking piece goes, I, when I’m working with clients, I think that even tracking for like, a couple of days can help give you like a general idea of what you’re tracking. So maybe, or what you’re taking in. So you might not have to track all the time every day. But even if you can do a few days here and there just to kind of see like, because I think some people are thinking they’re hitting a certain amount, but they’re actually way under. And so just giving yourself that feedback can be really helpful. But I definitely don’t think that it’s something you have to do like all the time.
Yeah, something that I think about whenever it comes to tracking is that often whenever we start measuring something, we start trying to make it perfect, and it becomes something that is not how we normally eat, because we’re trying to evaluate and make it look perfect. So how do you maybe I don’t know if you account for that or not? If you’re looking at somebody’s you know, nutrition tracking, but how do you account for that? Or how should someone account for that in their own life?
Um, are you saying just like the, like, if they’re like, they might change it when they start tracking?
I’m saying that if they know that they’re gonna say, I know, I’m going to be tracking my nutrition today, I might eat eat differently than I normally eat, because I know I’m going to be tracking it.
Yeah, totally. I mean, I definitely like will tell people ahead of time, like try not to change anything for the first couple of days. So I can get an accurate picture. Or even like some people don’t like, like adding everything in. So I say like, just like, take some photos of your food. And that can be really helpful. And I feel like that’s takes a little bit of the stress off of them. And then I can usually kind of look at it and guesstimate, obviously, it’s not going to be perfect. Um, but again, I think that I think nutrition, obviously, the more like dialed in, we can get the more like accurate depiction we see. But I also think that nutrition isn’t ever going to be like exactly perfect, right? Especially like in a race or when it comes to training. And, and I think that we can really get caught up in stressing about the details. But if like, overall, like general picture, we’re getting in good fuel around our training, we’re gonna see awesome results. So I think that’s the other piece to it, too, where I’m like, there’s that fine line between, like, dialing it in. And then there’s the other side of like, we don’t want to stress about it either. Because that does almost harm than good. So kind of some, I don’t know, back and forth there a little bit.
Yeah, so like don’t strive for perfection. So in terms of these building blocks for nutrition and coming up with a good plan, like what is a good framework for people to start following because people might have heard like, Oh, I’m gonna do the what is it the low the low carb thing where I’m doing the the fueling on fat and or I’m only going to eat protein like in there’s so many different schools of thought out there. And some people actually do perform really well with different ways of fueling themselves, but like, what is a good recommendation to start with?
Yeah, so I gave this analogy in the ever athlete one, but I really are the ever rising talk that I did. But I really love this because I feel like it’s a like fun, simple way of thinking about our food. So I like the campfire analogy when it comes to sports nutrition. So the campfire analogy is have a really good campfire. You have three main components Let’s have a campfire. So that is the blocks around the fire. So like those rocks that kind of keep the fire contained and and keep it burning like it should. So there’s blocks around the fire, then we have our kindling to get the fire started. So the kindling lights the fire, it gets it going. But if we don’t add anything to it, the kindling burns out really fast and there’s nothing left. So in order to keep that kindling going, we need to add some logs on the fire. And the logs will help keep that fire going long and steady throughout the whole day, or however long your fire is. And I like to think about that in terms of our macronutrients. So our macronutrients are our carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. So if we’re looking at those three main components of food protein is kind of like the blocks that are around the fire. So that is really the structure to our bodies, and really helps repair muscle and is kind of the building blocks for our body, like it’s the building blocks for the fire. Carbohydrates are kind of like kindling. So it gives us that really quick fuel, but it can burn up really quick. So we have to either keep adding kindling to keep the fire going, or we have to put a log on and the logs are kind of like our fats, it’s a slow burning fuel source. So it really takes a long time to burn through, which can be good when we’re looking for like longer, slower burning energy. So I feel like that is kind of just a good framework as we look at it. And really, what are these foods doing in our bodies? And then what are we doing as an athlete? And how do we need to help our body and what is going to be the best fuel source for us in that time?
So for all of this great metaphor with the fire, so for all of these, these logs and kindling for the fire, what what are some great places to start with when you’re looking at carbs, protein and fats?
Yeah, so as far as like, amount goes,
yeah, like, yeah, if somebody’s like, well, I don’t know how many carbs I should be eating. And then also talking about the difference between complex versus simple carbohydrates.
Yeah, totally. So when we’re looking at athletes, there’s quite a range of grams per kilogram of body weight per day that we should be looking for. So we’ll break that down a little bit more. The range is really anywhere from like three to eight grams of carbohydrate, per kilogram of bodyweight, per day per athlete. So if you take your body weight, and you put it into kilograms, so say, I believe my weight in kilograms is about 58. So then I’ll take that and I’ll multiply it by three on probably like a rest day or a day that or time period where I’m not doing a ton of training. And then on the higher end of that, like before race more around that eight grams. So basically, you just multiply it by, like 58 times eight, and that’s about how many grams you should be aiming for in a day.
Okay, and then can you can you talk about the complex versus simple carbohydrates? Because that does make a difference? Yeah,
totally. Yep. So simple carbs are going to be things that our body can digest really easily. So carbs that don’t have added fiber, or really a ton of like extra nutrients that are going to slow down digestion. So a simple CARB is going to be things like white bread, pasta, sugars, simple sugars, that our body digests really, really quickly. So it’s a really good like, quick, kindling source. And then complex are going to be those carbohydrates that have a lot of fiber added to them. So if we think of things like quinoa, or sweet potato stuff that has a lot of fiber, and takes longer for our gut to break down, that’s going to be more of a complex carbohydrate.
So when it comes to our training, when is it appropriate to eat simple carbohydrates because you those are the carbohydrates that are demonized a lot of the time for good reason, because there are there is no fiber in them. But right before your training, you don’t want to be taking in a lot of fiber. So what’s the right way to approach that?
Totally. Yeah. So again, this is going to be kind of different for every individual and based on kind of what your gut can tolerate, but we want to be able to get in good simple carbs right before our training. So kind of within that three to four hour window before our workout, if we can get really simple carbohydrate onboard. it digests really quickly tops off our glycogen stores in our body uses it for fuel super easily. It doesn’t have to go through breaking down fiber to use it as energy.
So I know that everybody has a different pre race or pre ride meal that they like what are some examples that you like to do for yourself or that you prescribe or recommend to your clients?
Totally. Yeah, for a pre ride like breakfast, and even pre race I like to do this but I’ll make like overnight oats. So I do some oatmeal. I do usually like a little bit of like Greek yogurt, or a little bit of like protein powder and almond milk and mix it all up and sit sit in the fridge overnight. And so I get some good carbohydrate and right before my workout along with some protein too, because it’s good to have like a little bit of protein. And I feel like that for me digests really easily and I usually never have any, like, gut distress with it. So I like to do that. I also do love like a toasted bagel and some peanut butter. Because it’s easy and convenient. And honestly pretty delicious. So yeah, those are kind of my to go twos.
Okay, people I go to it’s two pieces of bread with almond butter and jam on it. And that’s what I eat. And I usually actually eat maybe two hours before the start, because I find that I actually get hungry if I eat further away, like three hours before.
Totally. Yeah, I know. I had a race. Actually. Last weekend, was it Yeah, last weekend. And the race wasn’t until 11. And I was like, this is like most of my races are like early or start really early in the morning or like eight or nine. So I have to be up early. And so yeah, I actually ended up doing like a pretty big breakfast like right when I got up. And then like an hour before the race, I had like a bar and a banana. And that seemed to go over fine. But it also does like depend on time of day usually don’t have to think about that. But
I just wanted to ask you about carbo loading, because I know that there’s different schools of thought around this, like, Should you carbo load before an event? And if so what does that even look like?
Yeah, so most of the current research shows that there is benefit to adding carbohydrate, like a day or two before. So if we’re looking at that kind of based on your body weight metric, that if we’re normally eating just on normal days, anywhere from like, you know that three to eight grams per kilogram of body weight, I would say for most endurance athletes, we want to be in like the five to eight range. But if that’s the normal range you’re shooting for, then we can look at upping that to like eight to 12 grams per kilogram of body weight. And so getting that boost the extra four or so grams per kilogram of body weight, there has been shown to be a benefit in performance with that, or even a little bit more simple as adding like 200 grams of carbohydrate the day before your race.
And are these complex carbohydrates?
Simple, we want to stick to more simple carbs leading up to the race, for sure.
This is something that I think is really interesting, because the general health recommendation says avoid eating processed foods and some poor carbohydrates or processed food. But whenever you are an athlete, there are other considerations that need to be made so that you can actually digest and use that fuel appropriately.
I know Yeah. And I think that’s where it does get confusing for our athletes is because you hear like, all of these benefits of like keto or fasting or whatever. But that is like so different from like, what our goals are. And so that’s where nutrition gets. So just nuanced. And it’s, we really have to look at the individual and what that person’s goals are.
Okay, so let’s move on to protein you said specifically, adding in more protein was something that really helped you and I know, especially for runners and cyclists, but especially for runners if you’re not getting enough protein that can show up as frequent injuries.
Yeah, totally. Yeah. So as I mentioned in that kind of like campfire analogy, protein really is like the building blocks for our body. So we need to be making sure that we have those, we have protein as a tool to help us recover. So and I think, honestly, endurance athletes really focus on carbohydrate intake. And as I mentioned, carbs are super important for our performance. But I think that protein can kind of be put on the backburner a little bit. And I think that if we can really emphasize getting in more protein are really going to help optimize our recovery a little bit more. So I think a really good just like rule of thumb is getting in, I would say minimum 25 grams after a workout. And that’s really going to help just trigger muscle protein synthesis, getting those muscle fibers to start recovering so that we can hit our next workout hard.
So I know that there’s a recommendation based on like how much you weigh versus and and the recommend the general recommendation is different than recommendations for athletes in terms of grams per kilogram. So how much should people be shooting for? Like overall for their for their day?
Totally. Yeah, so the recommendation for that is around 1.7 to 2.2 grams per kilogram, and that is a little bit more of a recent recommendation. I think, in the past, it was like a point eight to like 1.3. But then when they looked into it more for athletes, the best recommendation really is more than 1.7 to 2.2, which is quite a bit of protein actually, but
And is there a maximum that people can absorb in one sitting because you said post workout 25 grams But like, what if somebody is getting like, you know, 60 grams of protein or something in one sitting?
Yeah. So really, I think there is a misconception that your body will only absorb 25 grams, which really, that has been shown to be kind of a misconception. So if you eat more than that, the 25 grams is what it takes to help basically send a signal for your muscles to start repairing. So that muscle protein synthesis, it takes 25 grams to trigger that. But anything beyond that our body’s still going to use in our skin, our tissues, our body uses protein as building blocks. So it’s still going to use protein, even if you eat over 25 grams of it. And we see for older athletes, actually, it takes a little bit more protein to get that going. So I think one recommendation I saw for, especially women over the age of 40, we want to be looking for at 40 grams right after your workout is optimal.
Wow. Okay. Yeah. And I’ve seen that seniors actually have a higher protein recommendation as well.
Mm hmm. Yeah. Yep. Yeah, as you age, it, it becomes harder to hold on to let your lean muscle mass and it becomes harder to recover. So when we see that when we add a bit more protein that can help mitigate those changes, I like
you have the recommendation of 1.7 to 2.2 grams per kilogram, because I think that there can be the personality types of things more, is more as more as more so I’m gonna eat as much protein as I possibly can. And then that’s going to be best for me. But there is a limit to how much it’s actually going to help you. And I’ve seen some studies that show that too much protein can actually harm you. But if you’d like a lot,
yeah, yeah, I think you do have to eat a lot to get to that point. But again, then we do look at like, you know, if you’re eating too much protein before a workout, then you’re probably not going to optimize as much of like the carbohydrates because it takes our body longer to break down protein too. So there’s that piece of it too. I would keep protein pretty like moderate to minimum right before training.
Okay. And I wanted to ask about bioavailability. So like, I eat a plant based diet, I’ve done tons of my own personal research on how to eat a plant based side effectively as an athlete, but can you talk about the bio vil bio availability of plant versus non plant based proteins?
Totally, yeah. Um, yeah. So if we’re looking at like the difference between animal based proteins and plant based proteins, really, in animal based proteins, it is easier to get a full amino acid profile and one food. So we see things being a little bit more bioavailable on the animal bay side of things, but you can totally as I’m sure, you know, get as much protein as you need through plant based sources. Sometimes you just have to get a little bit more creative, like pairing certain foods that have the basically those two foods will have that complete amino acid profile for you. And I believe p protein is actually the best research plant based protein. So you’re gonna get a really good amino acid profile with with pea protein.
Yeah, just eating the variety of different protein sources, and even whole grains pair with beans, just in vegetables, just having a variety can be really powerful.
Yep, definitely. Yeah.
Okay, so let’s move on to fat because I know that fat can also be a hot topic, especially when it comes to saturated fats. So how much fat? Do we need to start? I guess?
Yeah, so again, gonna depend on the person. But I believe we’re looking at that, like one to 1.5 gram per kilogram of body weight is, is kind of the minimum that we need. And I think that fat is really something that is super up to the individual. And I think that some people feel really, really good on a higher fat diet. And I think that other people maybe don’t feel as good and they feel a little bit better not eating quite as much fat. So again, this is where I really tell my athletes to like, listen to their bodies, but we do need, you know, at least that that minimum amount of fat and that’s really going to help with our like hormonal processes, kind of like our wellness side of things. I like to describe it. So. Um, so yeah, I would say starting with that kind of like one to 1.5 gram per kilogram of body weight and kind of experimenting with God and seeing how you feel is a good place to start.
Yeah, thanks for saying that. It is super important to eat fat because I think that people can get really extreme and then not eat enough fat and this number of 30% calories from fat, like even up to 30% calories from fat can be beneficial. But can you talk about the saturated fat versus like mono unsaturated fats for for health and for performance?
Yeah, I mean, I think there is some mixed data on this right now. Um, I would say that if we can, I would probably stick to mostly our unsaturated fats and things like our nuts or seeds, that kind of stuff. Because it’s really going to help reduce inflammation too. If we have a little bit of saturated fat in, in our diet from like animal sources and that kind of stuff, there’s not a huge issue with that, again, this is kind of where we need fat in moderation. And where it is more up to the individual and how the individual feels and processes, fats, and all of that. But yeah, I think that if people can get a majority of their fats from unsaturated fat sources, so that’s again, nuts, seeds, all those good things, for sure.
I think that in the past, a lot of athletes, including myself, would think, well, I can just eat whatever, I just gotta get these calories, and I can eat whatever I want. Even if it’s garbage. I could because I’m burning all these calories. And you think that just because you’re exercising a lot, you can just, you know, eat food that isn’t going to have a very dense nutrient profile to it. So what are your thoughts on that?
Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I think that is a total. I don’t know, maybe misconception isn’t the right word. But I do hear that a lot of people being like, Oh, I’m going on for a ride. So I can just eat fries and a milkshake after. And even though we can get away with that sometimes. And like, I definitely do that sometimes. But um, but I think that for the most part, if we can be fueling our body with like high quality, Whole Foods sources, really, we’re going to feel the best. And our body’s going to thank us for that long term too. Because even though we’re not seeing any short term negative effects of that it does take a toll on our health over time. And really, a lot of those processed oils and saturated fats and processed foods can really drive up inflammation, which can inhibit recovery. So we really have to factor all those things in and, and you know, I think I am like a firm believer in just in moderation, right? So enjoying food once in a while. But overall, are we getting in good nutrients and good clean food, for the most part is important.
I think that consideration of long term health is something that a lot of a lot of athletes maybe didn’t think about before, and they just think all is just how I’m going to perform the next day. But how healthy am I going to be over time. And just because you’re exercising a lot like you could be exercising 20 hours a week. But if you’re not eating healthily, you could still have high cholesterol or high blood pressure and exercise is not going to fix everything.
Totally, yeah, yeah. They always say you can’t outrun a bad diet. And I think there’s a lot of truth to that saying, like, we need to be fueling our body properly. And like, this is another analogy I like but like, we’re as athletes, kind of like a sports car. And we don’t want to put like bad fuel or bad gas in a nice sports car, right? Like we got to be putting in high quality fuel and giving our body what it needs.
We’re talking about rest and nutrition, because I think sometimes people think well, I’m not exercising today. So therefore I should eat less calories.
Yeah, yeah, that is going to be false as well, especially as athletes who are, you know, maybe in like a big training block, or, you know, you’re trying to recover from a weekend of long training when our body still needs fuel on that rest day. So I really have my athletes keep like protein the exact same, you know, we might not be quite as hungry on the rest day if we’re not getting out in training. So we can look at lowering like carbohydrate a little bit. But we really should be aiming to still get good amount of carbs, proteins and fats throughout the day. It’s just going to help our body recover, and then it’s going to give us fuel for our training that next week. You talked
about the kindling and always keeping that fire going. And that immediately made me think about fasting and intermittent fasting is something that’s so popular, people talk about it for weight loss and for health benefits. As an athlete, it’s something that I’ve never tried and something that I don’t think that I would benefit from per se. Like, yeah, the way that I think about it is like if you’re eating dinner, you’re not eating a super late dinner if say you’re eating dinner at six o’clock, and then you don’t eat until you wake up in the morning, eat breakfast, and maybe you’re waking up at six o’clock, you are already fasting for, you know, potentially 12 hours. But these people who are fasting for like 18 hours out of the day and have these like short windows to eat, but then you’re also trying to be an athlete. What are your thoughts on that?
Yeah, yeah, so especially for athletes, we need to have a fuel onboard. And there’s been a lot of studies that have shown, you know, fasted versus unfastened training for women especially we perform so much better in a Fed state. So and then men as well, they looked at fasting versus not fasting and the group that was fasting really was not able to perform as well as those who were in a Fed state. So Um, that just shows you right there that you’re gonna perform better when you’re giving your body the fuel it needs. And I do think kind of like what you were saying there are, you know, some studies that maybe show that there’s some benefits to fasting for that like longevity, wellness, like blood sugar levels like long term, and all that stuff in that I think there is truth to that. So there is a time and a place for fasting. But I think that, again, just what you said, if you eat dinner earlier, or eat dinner and don’t eat a ton at 10 o’clock at night, and then you wake up the next day, you’re going to have that 12 hour fast, which is great. And I do think that if if athletes can eat dinner a little bit earlier and give their body that time to digest before you go to bed. I think that that is perfectly healthy as long as you’re not training in the evening. But I think that there can be some benefit into to that is not having a massively large snack like right before bed will just sleep better is really what it comes down to. So. So yeah, I would I would not work out fasted to answer that question.
Yeah, another thing that makes me just a thought that comes to mind whenever we’re talking about fasting is that sometimes people will use fasting or intermittent fasting, I don’t know if those are the same thing. But they’ll use it as like a hack for weight loss or for performance, but they’re not eating healthfully to begin with. So they are ignoring the foundation of what a good diet looks like, and then adding in fasting thinking that that’s going to be a bandaid for all the problems that are with their normal diet. So maybe I don’t have to eat that healthy of a diet if I just fast. But that’s that’s wrong.
Totally. Yeah. Yeah. When whenever people bring up fasting or that they want to try I’m like, let’s look at like what you’re taking in first. Like that really is like you said, it’s the foundation, we don’t have that right, then fasting even isn’t getting really help us like, let’s fix that. And then look at training load and see if fasting would be beneficial or not. So
what are some other landmines that I haven’t brought up? Like I talked about fasting, I talked about how you, you know, the type of carbohydrate you might be eating and talking about fat? Like, what are some things that I haven’t brought up that people often have misconceptions around?
Yeah, um, let’s see, I’m trying to think I mean, I think one of the biggest things, especially for the like, female clients that I work with, I think, like, there is that fine line of of wanting to be, you know, at like race weight, so wanting to like, lose weight, like some people want to get a little bit leaner, and so they eat less. And I think we see this cycle, especially with women where they start eating less and less, and then it throws off their hormones. And they kind of go into the state where their body is holding on to everything that they bring in, because their body doesn’t know when they’re going to get fuel next, and especially for women is as soon as we start not eating enough food, then we get a downregulation in our hormones, which can be super detrimental to our performance. So I honestly don’t think I’ve had a female athlete client that I’ve had eat less, I think we always are trying to add in more food and more fuel, make sure that we’re getting enough calories throughout the day to support our health and our hormones.
Yeah, I don’t know, like I haven’t picked up on women’s health in a really long time. But I remember when I was 1718 years old, I was I was a runner, and I was going to the gym a lot. And I remember reading that I should eat 1200 calories, so that I could like lose weight. And I would try to eat 1200 calories a day. And that just didn’t make any sense at all, like looking back as I’m burning all these calories. And I thought, well, if I just burn the note, same number of calories that I’m eating, then I’m going to be you know, have the body that I want. And then I’ll get super hungry. And then I would eat all of this like super unhealthy food late at night and have like disordered eating patterns around that. And that I don’t know why these fitness magazines will tell people to do that. Because that’s just telling people to eat less and less and less and less. And I don’t know if that’s still like what’s going on in these magazines if people even still read magazines.
Yeah, yeah, I think there was a time. I mean, I feel like not that long ago where that was like the recommendations to lose weight. And I think it’s done women a huge disservice. Because really what happens as soon as we start eating less food, we see basically a downregulation in our thyroid and in our hormones. And for women that can be in as little as like three to four days of under at eating, it can start to have those negative effects, which is crazy. Men have a little bit more leeway just the way their hormones are and they can get away with more like a couple months of under fueling before they start seeing negative effects. Not that anyone should try that but, um, but yeah, so women are super sensitive to know aren’t enough calories coming in. And that’s when we start to see those negative effects of just our hormones being downregulated. And then our cortisol going up, which in turn tells your body to store fat. So it kind of becomes this vicious cycle where women are eating less, they’re storing more fat, so then they’re eating less and less and exercising more. Cortisol is going up. And it’s it’s a vicious cycle. And it can be hard. And I think scary for some of women who I’m like, No, we actually need to eat more to lose weight. It seems like it’s backwards. But really, we have to help our metabolisms in our in our metabolism and our hormones to feel like they’re in an okay place.
Yeah, I almost don’t even want to touch weight loss. But I think I should probably ask about it. Because I don’t want everything to be about weight loss, I want it to be about health and performance. But for people that do want to lose weight, and they want to do it in a healthy way, what is something to consider or something to start, you know, analyzing and their own diet?
Yeah, I mean, with most of my athletes, I always say like, let’s not focus on like the weight loss piece, like, let’s focus on making sure we’re getting in really good clean fuel sources. So we’re looking at our diet, what are some things we can improve, to make sure we’re eating whole foods and giving our body just the energy that it needs, and then oftentimes, training kind of before race season training ramps up, and then naturally, we see kind of people leaning out and kind of really naturally ending up where they want to be just by feeling their body really well. That being said, if there are people that are like, you know, I do feel like maybe I need to lose a little bit of weight, to be my best self, then I say, like, Okay, what we can do that is making sure we’re still getting in our fuel around our workout. So we’re still eating a good amount of carbs and protein around your workout, but then maybe you know, we have a smaller dinner that’s later in the day. So just kind of front loading the day or loading the day around your workout, so that you’re not going to see those negative effects of hormones, getting out of whack and all that.
That’s really interesting and helpful advice. Something else I loved I loved about what you said was that a lot of times we get really focused on the weight that I want to lose the number of pounds that I want to lose, or basically the outcome of this goal. And you said, focusing on what you’re eating, focusing on your actions, focusing on your process, and we always hear about process and outcome. And it’s something I talk about all the time. But I think this is such a great example of that.
Totally. Yeah. Yeah. And I think I mean, kind of going back to what you said at the beginning of the podcast, like I think it’s really easy for us to focus on, like what we look like, especially as as women, and I think we can be really hard on ourselves. And so then we try to change things change how we look. But if we start focusing on like, how we feel, then and what we can do to make ourselves feel the best, oftentimes that those aesthetic things like naturally follow just natural causation, but we’re really what we’re looking at is how do I feel how how am I performing in? And I think that that, at least when I’m focusing on those things, I feel the best about myself, you know, not that it’s all about looks, but I don’t know. So I think there is some truth to that of just focus on on how you feel and how you perform and the looks will follow.
When people also think that I’m not an athlete, I’m not a runner, I’m not a cyclist. I’m not a crossfitter unless I look like I’m a crossfitter or a runner or a cyclist and body types can vary so dramatically on you know, what, what is somebody doing? And if they’re healthy doing it, and trying to pay attention, less to what everybody else around you looks like, and how you feel and how you perform can be super helpful, but it can be hard whenever it’s getting flashed at you all the time. This is what a runner looks like.
Yeah, yeah. 100% I think that there is that pressure, especially on endurance sports, but I think that, again, like we see all across the board, different body shapes and sizes and and your body is going to perform best at a certain weight that someone else might be totally different. And so just really focusing on how can I feel myself the best for me, and how can I perform the best and, and really just focusing on that it’s important.
Okay, so let’s talk a bit about during your workout, what you should eat during your workout. I have a funny story that I’ll start with. So a really good friend of mine, he was my roommate for a number of years. He’s like my brother. We went on a bike ride together, and he ate I think he like ribs or something like right before like five to 10 minutes right before we left. And I was looking at him saying, Are you sure you want to eat that? And he’s like, oh, yeah, that’s fine. And then he takes off on the ride with me. He’s absolutely crushing himself and then he’s like laying down under a tree. You know, having all these problems because of what he ate before. I mean, probably don’t go to that extreme. But what should you be, you know, and then I guess that’s more of an example of what to eat before. And we already talked about that. But what should you eat during training? And how does that change based on how long or how intense the training is?
Yeah, yes. So again, just what you said is going to depend on on how long your session and so if we’re looking at, you know, a 45 minute to an hour ride, that’s maybe not super intense, we’re probably not going to need any fuel during that, we can have something before have something after for recovery. But other than that, we should be pretty set with just some hydration, then if we’re looking at, you know, kind of that hour and a half to two and a half hour range, that’s when we want to start taking in some fuel. And really, what we’re looking at is around like 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates going to be optimal for that amount. Again, it does depend on like the intensity, and then your body weight a little bit there. But really anywhere in that 30 to 60 gram range is going to be optimal. And I think that that’s something you can kind of ease into and see how your body feels. So start with like that 30 grams during your hour and a half to two hour workout and see how that feels. And if you can get in a little bit more, I think that’s great, but kind of slowly working yourself up. So if you normally don’t eat during a ride, don’t try to hit that just 60 grams in your first time. Start small and work your way up. Um, and then if we’re looking at rides longer than that, so two and a half hour plus rides, we want to be aiming for like 60 to 90 grams of carbohydrate per hour, maybe even a little bit more for some athletes.
And do people need to train their gut in order to handle taking in more carbohydrates over time?
Yeah, definitely. So I think a lot of people who usually don’t eat on rides will find they have some, like just GI distress during their rides. So they might get a little bit of a side ache, a little bit of a stomach ache when they first start taking in carbohydrates, but your gut can get used to it. So again, that’s why I say start small. Do a few rides with you know, maybe 30 carbs per hour, see how that feels. And then slowly try to add carbohydrates to each ride, get a little bit more and a little more.
Can you give some examples of what people should be eating?
Yeah, so this is where we want those simple carbs, especially if we are on a really intense ride or we’re doing intervals, things like that, the simpler and the more easy to digest the better. So this is where I like to look at, you know, like Scratch or a some type of carbohydrate electrolyte drink, because our body will be able to use that really quickly and digest it, digest it. If I’m going on like a super long, easy ride. I personally like having some real food with me. And so I’m not always relying on like bars and sugary drinks. I like to make little homemade like protein balls or homemade bars. Or even like this morning, I made a batch of like healthy cinnamon rolls, and I was like these will be like a long ride tomorrow. I’ll bring some of those because I find that as long as I’m not eating like the whole thing at once I can digest it pretty easy on easy paced rides where I’m not trying to work really hard. So so you can really mix it up. But again, kind of the good rule of thumb is more intense, easy, digestible things. If it’s really low intensity, then we can add some real food in
Yeah, and it’s okay to eat things like cookies or cinnamon rolls on your ride. Like I actually have cookies that I bring on my rides. And I was in this really steep downhill the other day, and it my cookies actually fell out of my pocket. And I was and I didn’t know it. And I was so sad. I was like, Oh, my cookies. That’s the worst. What are some foods that people shouldn’t eat on a ride?
Well, um, I mean, I think that if we’re looking at you know, anything that we have like some higher intensity in it, then we really want to try and stay away from like, too much fat, or, or too much protein just because our body’s gonna have a harder time breaking it down and using it as fuel. And then obviously, anything that’s gonna like melt or go bad in your pocket might not be the best idea. But yeah, for the most part, trying to stick to those like simple carbs are going to be your best bet.
A little tip that I want to give for ultra endurance events. So for me I would define that as something over eight hours is that you might want to start adding in some of these more real foods that have a little bit more fat and protein in them because over time your stomach just won’t be able to handle these these super simple carbohydrates like for a 24 hour race or something.
Totally Yeah, yeah, that’s a really good point. I was actually just reading a study on that this morning that was talking about that. That is important for those those really long like ultra marathons that kind of stuff. It can be super beneficial, even like people will do like pizza and bacon and real real foods, but they’re, again, they’re not hitting a crazy high intensity. So they’re not going to get quite as much gut distress, which can be hard.
How does nutrition vary from running to cycling, because I’m kind of a newer runner. And I’ve been doing some, like I’m doing some Ultra Trail running this year. And I have been using my cycling nutrition plan for my running, which has been mostly helpful. But I’m curious if, as the run gets longer if there’s other things to consider.
Yeah, I mean, I think that like, I mean, what we’re just talking about as, as the runs get really long, that’s kind of one we want to be looking at a little bit more like real food sources, but I feel like running can be a little bit more tricky than cycling. Because of that pounding, we start to see a bit more gut distress. So just from you’re kind of moving up and down, and that pounding on on the pavement or on the trails or whatever, we can see that we have more gut distress. So we just need to be a little bit more careful about one training or gut and then to thinking about, like, what can your gut specifically handle? Because everyone is going to feel a little bit different. But I think that we can work up to a point where you can take in food easily without having too much
gut distress. Whenever you add in something like heat or altitude, are there other considerations with the fueling that people need to consider?
Yeah, so we do. And that really comes down to like hydration. So when we’re at altitude, we need to make sure that we are taking in a little bit more water and electrolytes, and that’s going to help with that. But especially someone from someone like coming from sea level up to altitude, that’s when, like the days leading up can be really important. And we actually see an increased need for overall calories when we’re up higher, because there’s more stress on our bodies.
So how like, how much more?
Gosh, I actually don’t know those numbers off the top of my head, I’d have to go look through some of my notes. But But yeah, I mean, when I go up, I just I really tried to make sure like, the day before the race, if I, you know, normally put like one scoop of my like scratching, I’ll try and do two or take an extra bottle. That kind of stuff can be a good, easy way to start. But I can see if I can find some good, like resources on
that. And yeah, that’d be awesome. I’ll put in the shownotes for people, like when we’re talking altitude. So for example, you’re in Bend, I think the altitude there is around 3000 feet. And I live at zero. So I came to high cascades last year, and they’re I think, I don’t know, I think the race went up to like 7000 feet or something. And I could feel the altitude. I also went to Breckenridge and race to 60s Age race at 10,000 to 13,000 feet. So, you know, is there that and you can this might be something that we also need to include later. But like is there sort of like a range of altitudes where if you’re at 5000 feet, and you come from sea level, you need to be doing different things? And if you go to 10,000 feet with your nutrition?
Yeah, so I do and again, I’d have to like look at this. But um, but yeah, there definitely is going to vary based on kind of what, what elevation you’re at, and then what elevation you’re coming from. So like how much you’re increasing in elevation. It’s really there’s going to be differences in all of that. Again, I’d have to kind of go back and look at my my resources to know those exact numbers. But
Awesome. Well, I can’t wait to include those. And yeah, thanks so much for doing the legwork for us on that. Yeah, of course, something else I wanted to ask you about was caffeine, because there’s a lot of like caffeinated gels that you can do or drinking coffee. And then if you drink too much coffee, you can not feel very good. So like what are your thoughts on using caffeine as an ergogenic aid?
Yeah, so again, this is very individualized. So some people actually can process caffeine really well, and it helps them. Some people feel terrible when they have caffeine. So if you are someone who you feel like caffeine benefits you then we do really want to look at like timing. So caffeine takes about like 45 minutes to kick in. So we want to make sure that we’re having it at an optimal time where it’s going to help us and we do see like a little bit of a dip after we see that increase in energy. So if you’re doing like in an hour and a half race, and if you have some caffeine right before it is probably going to help you about mid race and you’ll probably see a benefit from taking it before if you’re doing longer stuff, then we might want to look at like small doses of caffeine throughout so we’re not getting like a huge hit and then having that crash after. But and then again, I think that some people really just don’t feel well on caffeine at all. So just like listening to your body that way and, and making sure that one of my friends is really sensitive to caffeine and she we were on a ride one evening and it was like 5pm and she ate like, I don’t know a full packet of these gummies not knowing that had like 90 milligrams of caffeine, she texted me in the middle of the night like 3am. She’s like, I’m still awake from these gummies. So making sure that you’re just like paying attention to your body’s sensitivities to it because everyone’s a little different.
I also wanted to ask if there’s an upper limit of caffeine consumption, because here’s an example for everybody. Like if I’m doing 100 mile mountain bike race, for the most part, I’m actually eating gel for that long. So that could be like 20 to 24 gels. And if all gels have caffeine, say they have 25 milligrams per per gel. I don’t do this just for reference. But if you were to eat like 20 gels that had tons of caffeine in it, is there is there an upper limit for Well, I guess number one for like rules, but also for for health?
Yeah, I there definitely is for health. And this is a calculation that’s based off of weight again, and I’m so sorry, I don’t know this calculation off the top of my head. I’ll try and find it after this. But it does come down to like your body weight, and there is an upper limit to where for each person individually, we can start to see actually negative effects from too much caffeine. So it’s something we want to be really mindful of, and maybe taking, you know, a little bit like, if it’s again, like a big like eight hour day or something taking a little bit before having some maybe mid and then a little push at the end is probably going to be plenty.
Awesome. Well, gosh, I can’t believe that we’re already almost out of time here. You have a beautiful website with really great images. And in fact, I might use some of those for inspiration for some of my new images. Where can people find find your website and your community and to work with you?
Yeah, so my Instagrams wildlywell.Abbi , I post a lot of fun stuff on there. And then my website is wildlywellabbi.com Or wildly well.co I think either will take you there right now. But But yeah, so I do a little recipe subscription that people can sign up for your first week is free. But basically every month I drop new recipes for I gear it towards women and outdoor adventure sports. So recipes that are really easy to make before and after training and easy to take up into the mountains. So that’s kind of what I have going on right now. And then I do offer nutrition coaching, too. So if you’re interested in getting your nutrition really dialed in for your sport, we can totally work on that as well.
Great. Well, thank you so much for coming on the show. And I’m also kind of excited about about the information you’re gonna provide because I’ll motivate people to go to the show notes.
Yeah, totally. Yes. Cool. Thank you so much for having me.