You Eat a Lot of Junk Food…Then What?

15 08 2011

If you are reading this blog, it’s likely that you like foods like fresh strawberry-blueberry smoothies…

whole wheat homemade banana oat muffins…

and massive whole foods hot bar buckets.

If you are reading this blog, it also means that you are human, therefor do not always eat “healthy” foods. I generally tend to prefer healthier options, like fresh fruits and veggies, grilled fish and chicken, greek yogurt and whole grains; but I also definitely have some guilty pleasures (what I like to call “fun foods”), including challah french toast (loaded with fresh berries, whipped cream and tons of maple syrup), super duper cheesy Hawaiian pizza, and peanut butter, banana and nutella crepes. I used to consider these foods to be “bad foods” but I have come to realize that there is no such things as a bad food. Some foods are just better suited to fuel our bodies and others simply taste good and make us smile. Last Friday, I had a day filled with all sorts of “fun foods.” I started off the day with my typical oatmeal with banana bowl, but got hungry mid morning and treated myself to a blueberry scone and latte from Starbucks…

Lunch was my typical turkey and swiss sandwich, but a colleague had extra pizza (which of course happened to be my favorite kind!) from her lunch outing, so I had two slices…

I snacked on a few three of these in the afternoon…

By mid afternoon, I was craving some sweat pants and a nap. When dinner rolled around, I wasn’t even that hungry, but I had a dinner date with my Dad on Friday night. The restaurant that he chose has stellar burgers AND sweet potato fries. I opted for a burger with baked apple slices, sauteed onions and brie.

this isn't my burger from Friday...I didn't bring my camera to dinner. But it was similar 🙂 SOURCE

After a day of such heavy eats, I didn’t sleep super well on Friday night. I woke up on Saturday morning for a 12 mile run. I knew from the moment that I took my first step that I was not going to have a repeat from last weekend’s 11 miler.

As I ran, my legs felt like lead, I experienced a ton of acid reflux, my sweat was super salty and my mind was just not in the game. I know enough about nutrition to know how much proper fueling and hydration play into performance, but I began to wonder what exactly goes on in your body after consuming a lot of high sugar/carb foods and why eating foods such as cookies, pizza, burgers, etc. leaves you feeling sluggish. I did a little research and this is what I found…

*I am not a nutritionist, so if I didn’t get it totally right, feel free to help me out in the comments section! The information below was compiled from healthguidance.org, webmd.com and livestrong.com

Once you have taken a few bites of your oh so delicious cookie, pancake, piece of pizza, (insert fun food of choice)…

2) Your pancreas goes into overdrive and releases insulin (the hormone that the body creates to regulate and break down sugar in the blood stream) to begin the process of “cleaning out” the sugar from your blood and using it for muscle restoration. If your muscles don’t need anymore glucose, the sugars are stored in fat cells.

3) You might feel flushed or a little hyper during this process. Your body is stressed and releases adrenaline and cortisol to help find a new state of equilibrium. Your body works to release insulin until all of the glucose is gone from your bloodstream.

4) The spike in glucose, extreme release of insulin and increase in cortisol and adrenaline leave your body feeling exhausted, and you will likely swing into a state of sluggishness, known as a sugar crash.

 If you are all finished with your “fun eating” for the day, your body may take up to 5 hours for this entire process to run its course and then you will start feeling more like yourself. If you had a day like I did on Friday, your body must repeat the process each time that you eat high sugar/high carb foods, such as burgers, fries and burger cookies 🙂

On Saturday morning when I woke up, my body was likely just finishing the process of “dealing with” the loads of sugar and carbohydrates that I fed it through the day on Friday. My legs probably felt like lead and my sweat was extra salty because of the high sugar/high salt content of the foods I ate, which left me dehydrated. I noticed that as my run went on, I felt better and better. Maybe my exercise got my heart rate going faster, which pumped it through my heart and consequently cleaned out my system? I don’t regret anything that I ate on Friday. Those types of foods are not foods that I eat every day, but when I do, I fully enjoy them. But maybe next time, I won’t choose to eat them the day before a long run.

Question of the day: Do you notice how different foods effect your training?

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