Fueling to support your function


I see a lot of people many times a week, and I thought I’d share something with you all that may or may not pertain to some of you that I’ve been picking up on.


Fueling plays a HUGE role, not only in an individuals progress toward any goal, whether it be general or specific, but also towards your health (in a quantitative way, i.e.: bio-markers).  However, as much control as I tend to have over my athlete’s program designs, I have very little control over the fueling portion of the puzzle, which almost always plays a much bigger role when compared to program design (though both have a large impact).


My question to you is this:  Do you fuel appropriately in regard to your function and your desired goals?  Do you know how to?  Would you modify your food profile depending on variables such as where you are in the season, increase/decreased training volume, weather and environmental fluctuations, or even when you completely change direction in pursuit of proficiency from one sport to another?


I’ll give you a generic case study that I think will ‘fit’ with a lot of individuals.  Let’s say Person X has only done endurance style sports their entire life.  For the sake of the argument, it doesn’t matter how old the person is, whether they are male or female, etc.  I also want to be clear that I’m only using this example because i think it’s probably the most common:  the same concept could be applied to a bodybuilder or a powerlifter, though I just tend to see less of them make the transition.


This person has a high proficiency in running and has always pursued that type of a sport (long, single modality aerobic stuff).  It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway:  there is a particular way in which this type of an athlete needs to fuel in order to support that function (running long distances).  That food profile is going to look a certain way, and maybe it had to be trained, but it eventually becomes habit.


Let’s say that individual wants to then step out of their comfort zone and try a new sport.  Let’s pretend that the new sport is called CrossFit, and it incorporates a LOT more than just running.  Goals start varying a quite a bit outside of simply trying to shave minutes and seconds off of runs—now Person X is trying to get pullups, trying to improve their squat form and increase their weight that they can lift properly, etc.


Herein lies a problem that hinders many ‘Person X’s’ that I encounter:  either through an unwillingness to to do, or because of a lack of understanding on HOW to do so, Person X doesn’t change much, or sometimes anything at all, about their food profile.  They are still fueling to support a completely different function that they are used to (long distance running).


Fast forward:  Person X struggles in trying to get stronger, tends to get tweaked and injured more, is easily frustrated, and decides that the sport isn’t for him/her.  “CrossFit doesn’t work for me.”  However, what was the culprit here?  Was there much of a chance at all for success when the fueling was completely inappropriate and not supporting the function?


Apply these concepts in any other sport:


  • Could you fuel like a bodybuilder but hope to train like a marathon runner?
  • Could you fuel like a marathon runner, train like a CrossFitter, and then hope to look like a bodybuilder (or a runway model)?
  • Do you generally under-fuel your body and then wonder why you aren’t seeing progress (or are generally run-down) in a sport that is as demanding as CrossFit?



Think a bit about where you might struggle and ask yourself if you’re doing everything you can on your end regarding your fueling to maximize the gains you’re wanting to achieve.  Track your food!  See how much protein you’re REALLY eating in a day—chances are if you’re having a hard time seeing the strength gains you want and you’re putting in the effort in the gym, it’s deficient.  See how many carbohydrates you’re eating in a day—chances are if you aren’t happy with your body composition, this macronutrient is the most responsible (but not solely, I’m not trying to oversimplify things here) for not supporting that goal.  Are you overeating a particular macro?  Are you under-eating another?  Are your ratios way out of whack?  Are you eating ENOUGH?


I see a lot of food profiles and I’ve met a lot of DIFFERENT kinds of people, and I tend to notice trends like this.  Take it from me—if the shoe fits, wear it.  There’s always a reason, sometimes you just have to explore your options a bit to find a solution, and then make the appropriate adjustments to fix it!  As always, I’m here to help, and I WANT to help, so don’t hesitate to reach out to me and we can see what can be done for YOU!


—Coach Phil