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, and

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?



11 responses

15 08 2011
Lisa Rini (@got2runnow)

Great post! I’ve found that eating a burrito (healthy kind, though) before a long run the next day really helps. Keeping a food diary has also been helpful for me. 🙂

15 08 2011

I used to keep a food diary! They are definitely helpful for figuring out where you need improvement and getting back on track if you have fallen off the train

15 08 2011

Well, that “scared” me into healthy eating for the lastw eek of build for my Ironman 😛 Thanks girl!

15 08 2011


15 08 2011

This past weekend I had the exact same thing happen to me. I ate high sugar, low nutritional value foods all weekend, and Saturday’s bike ride went ok, but Sunday’s run was TERRIBLE. My body’s reaction to all the junky stuff, and the fact that I was trying to do this 90min run on a treadmill (due to massive rains) meant that I only made it 40min into that run. And I knew that it was what I had been fueling my body with that caused this and not that my fitness all of the sudden went away.

15 08 2011

I think that our bodies can handle different foods during different types of exercise….I def have experienced that with biking and running and swimming!

15 08 2011
Shannon @ Mon Amour

I always feel really sluggish after a day or even meal of unhealthy eating. I am trying to work on being really aware of what I put into my body and why

15 08 2011

I ate like crap this weekend. Traveling always seems to have that effect on me. But in general when I eat a lot of junk all I want to do is sleep and be lazy and I feel like crap when I go to workout.

15 08 2011

Hmm, I had a similar eating day on Friday and a relatively poor run on Saturday. There’s probably a connection there that I wasn’t even thinking about! Makes me feel better about my crappy run. Thanks for that! 🙂

15 08 2011

I had a bad day of eats on Friday and although it didn’t hurt my run, I definitely had stomach issues on my way out the door so it took me longer to get out there.

15 08 2011

seems like Friday was that kind of day for a lot of people!

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