Do Weather Changes Warrant Nutrition Changes?
Over the next few months as the temperatures start to drop, we want to be sure that during training, we are still fueling the body properly. Even though the intense heat and humidity may be behind us, the body still needs to be fueled and hydrated for success during training. There are many factors of course that will dictate how we fuel our body before and during workouts. For example, heat, humidity, duration and workout intensity all play role in our in-training fuel.
Training in 60 degree weather versus 90 degree weather can produce quite a different workout result. Many times, in the cooler weather, athletes may feel that their body does not need to be fueled like it did in the warmer weather. But, proper pre-workout fuel is just as important prior to a cooler weather workout. We always want to keep in mind that fueling before a workout is not just for that particular workout. Rather, proper pre-fueling will help assist in improving performance and recovery, which will then lead to a more productive workout the next day, the following day, and beyond. A good quality pre-workout fuel source is one that is built mainly around carbohydrates with a small amount of protein and fat1. In addition, these cooler temperatures can bring about some amazing performances. For example, if you have been training by heart rate, you have noticed that in the hot weather you were having to run slower in order to maintain a lower heart rate. Now that the weather is cooling off, you are finding yourself running longer, harder, and faster at the same or lower heart rate. So let's take full advantage of these cooler temperatures and of all of the warm weather training that you have done over the last many months. Keep that body properly fueled and top off glycogen stores in the cooler temperatures and you will find yourself putting up some amazing numbers in training.
During the hot summer weather, you found yourself consuming a very high amount of calories, electrolytes and water during some of your longer workouts. As the weather starts to cool down, we want to continue to properly fuel our body during our workouts even though we may find our sweat rate significantly less. As mentioned above, fueling properly during a particular workout is not just a static process in the sense of keeping the body fueled for that specific workout. As we continue to keep the body properly fueled during each workout, this will improve performance and recovery and will lead to highly productive workouts in the future. You may find yourself needing and using less electrolyte replacement such as salt capsule, but we do not want to adopt a "water only" fueling philosophy during the cooler months. The body is still going to require the necessary fluid replacement drinks, energy gels, energy chews and water in order to stay properly fueled and hydrated. In one study, nine male subjects cycled 90 minutes in different temperatures. During the colder temperatures, more carbohydrate was used for fuel and less fat was oxidized than during the warmer trial. In another study, eight male subjects cycled to exhaustion in four different temperatures. The longest time to exhaustion was found at 50 degree Fahrenheit while the shortest time to exhaustion was found at 86 degrees Fahrenheit2. Once again, let's keep that body properly fueled before and during workouts and enjoy the amazing numbers the body will produce in these cooler temperatures.
As always, no matter what the temperature, fueling the body properly following a workout is critical. As mentioned above, this post workout fuel is not just for facilitating recovery from this workout; rather, it is also helping to assist in performance and recovery for future workouts. Similar to the makeup of our pre-workout fuel source, our post-workout fuel source should consist mainly of carbohydrate with some protein and fat. We can also include amino acids specifically BCAA (branched-chain amino acids) as this will help to facilitate muscle recovery3.