I never think of exercise as punishment for what I eat. I love the physical things that I do even though I rarely think of it as exercise. (See Is it time to ditch exercise?)
I remember when I started to think about food as fuel instead. Cycling certainly requires that perspective. You can’t go for long, fast bike rides without planning what you’ll eat and when. My friend David sets an alarm to remind himself to eat on the bike.
Let’s rewrite the text on the above image. How about instead you think, “French fries fuel a lot of burpees! ” While I don’t generally eat french fries, I do find myself thinking that I need to eat before I work out. That’s totally different than thinking I need to work out because I ate. It’s what happens when you start thinking in terms of sports nutrition. “What would best fuel my workout?” is a different question than “What do I have to do to burn off those french fries?”
But the next step is realizing that food is fuel but it’s also importantly more than fuel.
Fuel is one of the role food plays but it’s not the only one.
“…. food also includes micronutrients, phytochemicals, zoochemicals, water, and more. Think of these as character actors in a movie. They may not be the “stars” of the show. They don’t really provide “energy” (or fuel) at all. Yet their dynamic interactions create the spark. They’re absolutely critical for energy, performance, mood, and optimal long-term health. In other words, without them, the show won’t go on. Unfortunately, the “food as fuel” story almost completely ignores these important characters,” writes Precision Nutrition’s John Beradi. Read the rest of “Food is NOT Fuel” here.