Food As Fuel
Everything changed the day I understood that if I was to become
a runner, I would have to run with the body I had. Almost without
warning I began to think of food as fuel for my body, and not comfort
for my soul. Food wasn't a new diet or a new program to lose weight.
Food was part of the overall metamorphosis of my body from vessel
to vehicle. As I wanted to do more with my body, I wanted to provide
the fuel my body demanded.
The body has three sources of fuel: carbohydrates, protein, and
fat. Carbs, as they are called, are the fast-acting, fast-burning
fuel. Your body uses carbs quickly; consequently they need to be
replaced often. Your body cannot store vast amounts of carbohydrates,
so they are used or converted into a form that can be stored. Carbohydrates
include breads and cereals, fruit and vegetables, and anything else
that seems "starchy."
Proteins burn more slowly than carbohydrates, but more quickly
than fats. Sources for protein include meats, nuts, beans, and dairy
products. Protein is found on the body as muscle.
Fat is everything that isn't protein or carbohydrate. Fat is exactly
what it is called: FAT. If it looks like fat and feels like fat,
it IS fat. The good news is that the body is very good at storing
fat. We would never have survived harsh winters or food shortages
if we weren't good at storing fat. The bad news is that our bodies
are good at storing fat even if there is no shortage of food.
The key is to work with your body. You've got to provide the right
balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, combined with activity,
that your body needs. Many dietary guidelines and exercise programs
have features that may work for some of us, but not all of us. Trust
yourself. Trust your body. Find your own balance.
Transforming a body that has become accustomed to inactivity into
one that willingly, even eagerly, runs does not happen overnight.
At first, your body rebels. It sends messages, by way of aches and
pains, that it is not pleased with the new program. It resists the
change. It gets tired quickly and it waits impatiently for you to
Before long, though, your body begins to get the message and it
begins to adapt to the new stresses being placed on it. It does
so by getting stronger. By carefully alternating between stress
and recovery, your body actually becomes both more and less than