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Mindful Eating Benefits For Athletes

by Megan Meyer, PhD, IFIC

Training and racing have at all times been an enormous a part of my life. After greater than 20 years of coaching for extra races than I can rely, I feel I’ve finessed my race day execution – and, extra importantly, the pre-race preparation.

My love of racing started when, in my teenagers and twenties, I used to be a aggressive swimmer. After faculty, I made a decision to change issues up and take a look at working, which led me to join my first half marathon. Naturally, quickly after, I mixed my working and swimming expertise to grow to be a triathlon junkie.

Somewhere between my evolution from triathlete to full marathon runner, I noticed one thing. Not solely have been the issues I used to be consuming throughout race season affecting my race day efficiency, however they have been additionally fuelling a year-round meals obsession and never a wholesome one.

After listening to about aware consuming, a follow that embodies many intuitive consuming rules, like consuming whenever you’re hungry and never observing meals restrictions, I made a decision to attempt it. It wasn’t lengthy earlier than I observed my vitality ranges enhance and my power improve. More importantly, my thoughts was free from counting macros and daydreaming about meals.

If you’re on the lookout for a means out of the restrictive consuming habits typically accompanying aggressive sports activities, you’re in the precise place. In this text, we’ll discover aware consuming in additional element, together with the advantages of aware consuming and how one can get began.


While the idea of aware consuming could be troublesome to understand, in follow, it’s comparatively straightforward. Mindfulness is, fairly merely, the follow of constantly drawing your consideration to the current second, versus working by life on autopilot.

Practicing mindfulness can embody extra than simply your consuming habits. But aware consuming for me appears to be like like consuming after I really feel hungry, deliberately chewing my meals, and permitting myself to eat meals I take pleasure in as a substitute of aiming for a perpetual calorie deficit.


In addition to the physiological well being advantages of aware consuming – like improved HDL ldl cholesterol and decrease BMI, practising aware consuming has been proven to affect psychological well-being positively. 

The diets and other restrictive eating practices that athletes generally use to enhance their bodily look and efficiency can result in obsessive ideas about meals. 

I can’t let you know what number of instances I’ve met up with different athletes, and all we do is discuss concerning the meals we are going to eat as soon as we full our exercise. Food is the principle matter of our conversations 99.99% of the time.

Mindful consuming might help to average meals obsession and the adverse impacts it may have in your psyche. Multiple research present the efficacy of aware consuming in bettering depressive signs, low shallowness, physique dissatisfaction, and disordered consuming.(1)(2)


In an effort to shed extra pounds, many individuals flip to restrictive weight-reduction plan practices like limiting energy or running on an empty stomach. While these strategies may work for some, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all for weight reduction, and in some instances, they do extra hurt than good.

Since aware eaters are inspired to not monitor energy, eat every time they’re hungry, and deal with themselves to ‘unhealthy’ meals like pizza, you’d assume they’d acquire weight. But research are proving this faculty of considered unfaithful.

Research exhibits that athletes who comply with aware or intutive consuming rules like consuming when hungry and never adhering to meals restritions have decrease BMIs than those that follow restrictive weight-reduction plan. Best of all, these weight-related aware consuming advantages include the addition of improved psychological well being. (3)


Knowing what an instance of aware consuming is will probably be important if you wish to start adopting these rules in your personal life. In this subsequent part, you’ll discover some easy steps you may take to eat extra mindfully.


When I’m targeted on coaching, I discover myself lacking meals or skipping snacks. Although I really feel hungry, I ignore essential inner cues, which results in extra binge consuming afterward within the day. My physique desperately seeks energy and vitamins to replenish itself after my exercise.

A change so simple as consuming after I’m hungry has helped me handle my binge consuming behavior, with research supporting the efficacy of aware consuming in treating binge consuming dysfunction. (4)


After a training session, I typically discover myself speeding to work with meals in my hand or consuming a fast snack standing in my kitchen. Other instances, I crash onerous on the sofa and watch TV whereas I devour no matter meals is close by.  Both of those habits lead me to eat mindlessly, with out recognizing the meals – and the way a lot of them – I’m placing in my physique. 

If you’ve adopted the same consuming sample, getting intentional about the place you eat is a straightforward solution to develop a extra aware consuming model. Get within the behavior of portioning your meals on a bowl or plate and sit down at your eating room desk to eat. 


It can take the mind as much as 20 minutes to obtain the sign that the abdomen is full. Eating too rapidly or beginning with too massive a portion are two methods you set your self as much as overeat.

Instead, begin with a smaller portion measurement than you’d normally take, perhaps 60% of your common serving. After consuming this primary portion, you are able to do a aware consuming meditation or just take a couple of minutes to permit your mind to meet up with your stomach. 

After listening to your physique, you’ll higher know whether or not you want the remaining 40% of your serving. You’ll seemingly be shocked by how typically you don’t!


Before turning into a aware eater, I used the time I took to eat as a possibility to look at TV or atone for emails. This disconnection from meals is among the fundamental causes of overeating, as we not take note of our fullness ranges. 

Slowing down and utilizing my senses when consuming helped me grow to be a extra aware eater. I used taking note of the scent, texture, temperature, and style of my meals as a solution to be extra current whereas I ate. This stage of presence allowed me to be extra in tune with my physique and helped me handle my binge consuming behavior.


When you concentrate on digestion, you may think the method that goes on in your stomach after you eat. But chewing your meals is an underrated however important a part of the digestion course of.

For a very long time, particularly after I was underneath a time constraint or consuming whereas standing, I wasn’t chewing my meals totally. Little did I do know chewing your meals extra totally can enhance nutrient absorption and reduce starvation between meals, making it simpler to really feel fuller for longer after consuming. (5)

Some consultants suggest chewing your meals 32 instances, whereas others counsel aiming on your meals to realize an oatmeal-like consistency earlier than swallowing. Adopting certainly one of these strategies, or creating your personal, is an effective way to impact massive change with out a lot effort.


When you come from a background of monitoring macros and energy out and in, it may be straightforward to fall into disordered consuming habits. Most frequent is feeling like it’s a must to earn your meals by bodily exercise.

One of the most important shifts I observed by practising aware consuming was not feeling the necessity to use train as a punishment for the meals I’d eaten. I started treating meals as a type of self-care, and after I did that, it was straightforward for my bodily exercise to comply with. 


If your obsession with meals is getting uncontrolled, adopting aware or intuitive eating practices might help. Not solely are they helpful in bettering your efficiency on race day, however they make on a regular basis life in between races extra satisfying.

In this text, I shared along with your my favourite aware consuming practices, like eliminating distractions and consuming after I really feel hungry. But they don’t cease there! With loads of books and different on-line sources, you could find all the knowledge it’s worthwhile to began your personal aware consuming journey. 

Creating a brand new relationship with meals utilizing these guiding rules may take a while, and it’s essential to recollect there’s no rush. But bringing pleasure again into consuming as the top purpose is a superb goal.

About Megan:

 Megan Meyer, PhD is the Program Manager of Health and Wellness Communications on the International Food Information Council (IFIC). At IFIC, she is dedicated to speaking science-based data to media, well being professionals, outdoors organizations, and customers on matters associated to diet and well being.



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