There are a lot of factors coming in to play here but let’s keep it simple for now.
Say hello to the Exercise Menopause.
For the average bloke, symptoms of Exercise Menopause normally result in 1 of 3 courses of action -
- Settle in to an armchair for the next 40 (if you’re lucky) years.
- Make plans to climb a big mountain, run a marathon, complete an ironman or cycle around slowly in devastatingly unappealing gear for lengthy periods of time.
- If you are an athlete, you will decide you must train harder.
Whichever path you choose, diet will probably not feature heavily. You’re a bloke. You will run off that extra 2% body fat (if you’re an athlete) or melt that wheat meat (weekend warrior), right?
Know this then.....
“Exercise has magnificent benefits, but weight loss is not one of them.” Prof Tim Noakes.
In hindsight, I hit early onset Exercise Menopause after a serious back injury 25 years ago pruned the intention of my international athletics career by about 12-15 years! I then spent 10 years trying (100% unsuccessfully) to make a comeback and the next 10 years (fairly successfully) trying to get my body set up for the long road ahead. Note that I say “fairly” successfully here. Today I feel fantastic but when it comes to managing the body, I am under no illusions.
The goalposts are constantly moving as we age and staying healthy is about managing change.
Behaving like a MEME (Male Egotistical Manic Exerciser) is just plain stupid. I know full well that what “worked” for my twenty something self will not work for my forty something self. I train less often, spend most of my time on mobility, and inject intensity to counter and contest my own Exercise Menopause.
Fundamentally, my fuel looks very different than it did 20 years ago. It is a fact that we become more insulin resistant as we get older, and no amount of exercise will counter that process.
A high fat, medium protein, low carbohydrate diet will be much more impactful.
World Ironman Champion Sami Inkinen knows that better than anyone. At 39, 6 years after adopting a fat adaptation strategy, the flying Finn is faster, more powerful and better equipped than ever to torch it in Hawaii. His very low fat “performance food” had sent him down the path to diabetes but he is now not just a superior athlete to his carb loading best - but metabolically healthier too.
That he also confines his training to 10 hours per week with a focus on intensity and recovery is helping Inkinen to delay the onset of the Exercise Menopause. He has monitored and managed change impeccably.
You too have a choice to make as you manage your own process of change. In doing so, consider
99.99999% of athletes will never make a living from their sport of choice. You are one of them. By deluding yourself into thinking you are an exceptional specimen to whom the laws of physiology do not apply, that you can somehow out flank a poor diet with (let's face it, probably pretty average) exercise, is just plain nonsense. As you age you will naturally become more insulin resistant, prone to injury and incapable of managing the "effort" of your younger self.
Ask yourself "What is my objective?"
Many years ago Prof Tim Noakes disproved the hypothesis that marathon running protects you from heart disease. He now has a theory that the very best athletes on the planet may well be the most efficient “sugar burning” (insulin sensitive) humans amongst us. But he cautions....at what cost to their long term health?
Any athlete making millions of dollars from their chosen sport but smashing carbs and sports drinks to do so, will feel like that’s a reasonable trade.
What’s your excuse?
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