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Hormones, Training and Food

Posted Oct 01 2008 9:27pm
All week (mon-wed) I was acting a little off to Karel. Karel and I never fight and barely argue. We disagree on things which is totally normal but we don't have the time, energy or desire to get into fights. For some reason though, I was just a total mess in my personal life (Karel) during the beginning of the week. Karel had just come back from his race (which I will update this weekend) and I wasn't trying to be mean or rude. I just kept thinking that he was the one that changed and he was tired and being difficult to me after his race. Well, apparently it was the wrong time of the month (if you get my drift) for me to blame him for his change of moods. Please fellas...keep reading the blog, I promise it isn't about womenly stuff :)
I had no idea why I was so emotional and a few days later I figured out why. I am probably one of the few women who don't crave chocolate or sweets and it can be any time of the month for me to want carbs (I LOVE BREAD!) so I guess I experience a major change in my emotions. I haven't acted this way in a long time (I can't even remember a time!) but it was like I couldn't even control it and I had no idea what was going on. I thought i was thinking clearly and Karel was the one who was being difficult but I was so wrong. I had to apologize to Karel cause he just didn't understand what was going on with me. A weekend away for a race and I'm an emotional mess! Well, it all has to do with the massive change in hormones most importantly estrogen, serotonin and progesterone..what lovely hormones. So men, understand that your loving girlfriend, wife or friend has almost no control over how they feel once a month. And with those cravings, the body is releasing a massive amount of hormones, and specifically the serotonin (a by-product of tryptophan) hormone drops which causes you to crave sugars and sweets (refined, quick sugars) to quickly raise the serotonin to make you feel good.
OK boys, your attention again..lets talk training. I'm sure everyone has experienced bonking or some type of glycogen depletion that causes you to get extremely moody, hugry or tired when training or immediately after training. Again, that lovely serotonin hormone gets depleted during endurance activity, especially if you haven't kept up with your carbohydrates during training. My advice, instead of loading yourself with calories every hour for those workouts lasting more than 3 hours (the body can only absorb around 240-280 calories/hr) start off with a low amount. Because you ALWAYS want to practice, practice and practice your nutrition well before a race, you have plenty of time to practice and see where you don't bonk. I do suggest going on some long workouts and experiencing a slight bonk so you know the minimum level. Then you can work your way up with calories but I have a feeling it will only be around 50-100 calories more an hour (also-it makes a BIG difference of what you are consuming, liquid calories of maltodextrin digest the slowest with the best absorption). If you consume too many calories per hour you may always feel great during training but you can't understand why you aren't losing weight (or maybe even gaining weight!). Also, come race day, if you are use to taking in too many calories during training and then you kick up the intensity in a long race (like IM or 70.3) you may experience total GI distress. So, my point here, don't let that serotonin hormone affect your training. Be sure you focus on carbohydrates during your long workouts and emphasize protein in the form of amino acids.
So now food. My favorite topic. Your food choices affect how you feel everyday. And if you are stressed, tired, overtrained, moody or sad, your food affects you even more! Food affects the neurotransmitters in the brain which ultimately make you feel completely crappy if you don't focus on protein and commplex carbs with all meals and snacks. Now, here is an area that you can control all the time. I don't think there as many dieter-athletes as there are sugar-loving, high calorie meals, big snacks, I just trained therefor I can eat whatever-athletes reading my blog. Serotonin drops if you have been dieting or cutting back on carbs. Probably not a problem here. But, if you are training and not properly replacing what you burned on a daily basis or eating too many high sugar, simple, low fiber carbohydrates (be sure to think portioned controlled meals and snacks and more pre and post training foods) serotonin levels will drop. The body, in return will want you to eat sugary foods which will raise serotonin levels quickly to get back to normal. However, once those sugars are introduced in the body the pancrease releases insulin and digested sugars are either stored as fuel or stored as fat. so here, we now have a situation where we can control what we eat and ultimately it will affect how we feel no matter what the day. My point...be sure to focus on protein with all meals and snacks. No matter if it is the time of the month (ladies) or a day when you are training (that is everyone, all the time!) you must be sure to balance the blood sugar to keep the hormones stable. Also, with the long distance training, add some amino acids to your drinks (or amino acids with water for early morning hour workouts, where food isn't needed and you want to workout out with an empty stomach) for those longer workouts to be sure you keep the brain energized and well fueled!
Make yourself a yummy smoothie after those long workouts.....
  • Smoothie Video
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