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Fueling For Weight Loss Is An Oxymoron

Food Is Fuel!

When you talk about health and wellness, it’s easy to say, “food is fuel.” The problem is that a lot of people jump into a fitness program with a goal that makes it hard to really see food as fuel.

Take the calories-in/calories-out approach. Technically, that’s exactly how you lose weight. But psychologically, what ends up happening with that approach is a major increase in calories out (why not make every day a long-run day?) paired with a major decrease in calories in (if 1,200 calories is the bare minimum, then 900 calories must be better, right??), with the expectation that the piddly number of calories you consume will magically “fuel” your calorie exertion. Have you tried that? It’s really depressing, not to mention exhausting.

There’s something to be said about really fueling your exercise, though. Specifically for an activity that you discover you’re passionate about. It’s no longer acceptable to work out in a brain fog from staying up late and then skipping breakfast. You have one hour to train that day, so you better show up ready to work. And you can’t just get by on a piece of toast, either. In fact, what if toast gives you indigestion? If you’re not really into your sport, you might just suffer through your workout with an upset stomach, because, hello, the toast + nondairy spread was like, 100 calories, and 40 minutes on the elliptical is 500 calories! Won’t you feel so vibrant and awesome when, after 87.5 workouts, you will have a 35,000 calorie deficit and will be 10 pounds lighter — even if you did spend the rest of the day after each of those workouts hangry and tired!

You don’t really want to be a zombie runner… do you? Photo by reabhecc

Spoiler alert: If you feel hangry and tired during the majority of your weight loss journey, the destination will likely be more of the same. But what if you could find the key to feeling vibrant and awesome for the whole thing? That’s where real fueling comes in.

Need energy for your morning roll? Have a legit breakfast with some actual energy (e.g. calories) in it. Need to avoid indigestion so you don’t stink up the mats when someone’s in your guard? Troubleshoot what’s up with your stomach — chances are your body’s telling you to feed it fuel it can actually use. Do too many carbs give you brain fog? Try less. Do too few carbs leave you dying in the middle of a 5-minute sparring round? Try more.

I feel like I’m a lot kinder to myself as a jiu jiteira. I want to give my body what it needs to allow me to do this sport that I love. I may not have my fueling down perfectly, but neither have I perfected my gi chokes or armbars. It’s definitely a work in progress, but fueling for jiu jitsu is making this journey fun the whole way through.

What do you like to eat for breakfast before a big workout?

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