There are many factors at play when it comes to controlling your appetite. As an endurance athlete, you can eat the healthiest diet in the world and exercise frequently but if you still eat too much you won’t get to be as lean as you would like. This will affect your ability to reach your target body composition goals which in turn will have an affect on your training and race results.
Traditionally people have used calorie counting to regulate their food intake however managing your appetite is different. Many years ago, I worked with large numbers of cats doing research looking into physiological changes during feeding. Cats have an innate nutritional wisdom and know how much to eat and the nutrients they require to stay lean and healthy. Whilst doing this work, I also looked into the research on humans around the area of feeding and appetite control. Much of the research focussed on the physiological control of hunger for example a drop in blood sugar will drive us to eat, the stretch receptors in our gut will make us feel full, there are hormones such as ghrelin & leptin which drive hunger and stop eating. What I found fascinating was that despite the fact that our amazing body has all this inbuilt ‘technology’, we can still squeeze in that pudding at the end of a meal even when our body is telling us that we are full !!
Like cats, we have nutritional wisdom however being a human being in today’s world means it is easy to ignore what our body is telling us and to eat more than we need!
Why is this? It’s because how much we eat is not only determined by chemical and physical changes in our bodies but by many other influential factors in our environment too making appetite control much harder !
Getting together for a meal and having fun in the company of family and friends can mean that you get distracted and don’t notice how much you’re eating. It’s difficult to resist Mum’s home cooking or your friend getting the next round of drinks in! We also tend to eat the same amounts of food as those around us…..being overweight tends to affect the whole family, including the dog!
Portion sizes have increased over the last 20 years and dinner plates are now bigger than they were. This doesn’t help.
If we eat the wrong foods e.g. too much refined carbohydrate you may crave certain foods to get that next sugar ‘hit’.
You might have happy childhood memories of time spent with a Grandparent who rewarded you with food. This may have set up the habit of eating food for comfort when life gets tough.
How much we eat can also be determined by habits or expectations. Some of us associate value in a restaurant with a whole pile of food or we might have been told as a child that we have to clear our whole plate before we get rewarded by a dessert.
On top of all of this, endurance athletes may also fall into the trap of over-compensating. We all know what can happen….we go and do that training session and then justify that large slice of cake and a latte which in many cases puts more calories back into our bodies than those we used in the training session or race.
Can you relate to any of these reasons for over-eating ?
I work with endurance athletes to put together personalised nutrition plans to optimise their body composition and maximise their performance. If necessary I help them to change their eating habits or put in place strategies to manage those situations where they know they might eat more than they need.
If you know that your appetite is getting in the way of you getting the best training and race results and you would like help to get it sorted then get in touch through the Contact section of this website