Archive for nutrition

Are You Eating In Harmony With Your Goals?


Two triathletes recently contacted me to set up nutrition consultations. Both are staring down at upcoming Ironman distance races and neither is satisfied with their training progress to this point. Feeling frustrated and panicking a little, they reached out and asked for help. I'll refer to them as Tom and Sally. (It's no secret to anyone who knows me that I LOVE helping athletes like Tom and Sally who reach out for help - it is my passion!)

In instances like this, the first thing I ask for is a detailed diet log, to better see how an athlete is eating on a daily basis. (Do you ever wonder whether you could adjust or tweak your eating habits to better support your training?)

As it turned out, I quickly learned they are like you, very serious about their training and their goals.

I also learned that despite them training for what was essentially the same race, they were on complete opposite ends of the spectrum when it came to how they ate.

Sally's daily total caloric intake, despite training 12 or more hours per week (or trying to), was far below what her activity level and training volume demanded, by a wide margin.

What she proudly believed was a "disciplined" approach to eating in order to "get leaner," was actually excessive calorie restriction The end result was chronic exhaustion, constant hunger, and uninspired training. Unfortunately, as is all too common for many athletes like Sally, what she most accomplished was to feel very frustrated!

(I'll admit, I did whisper in her ear that in all likelihood, her body was reacting and performing as though it was being starved. Yep, she sure was shocked and dismayed to hear that!).

On the other hand, Tom was getting enough calories, BUT on an almost daily basis, his diet was littered with simple sugars and junk food. He mistakenly convinced himself that because he was training "like an animal," (his words) he could treat himself a little bit each day.

Tom learned the hard way that his frequent, less than optimal daily choices delivered chronically high insulin levels that led to cravings, energy and mood swings, and more body-fat than he desired. (The key take-away words here are frequent and daily. I don't believe there are any "bad" foods, only bad habits!)

Listen, in the 35 years I've been training, competing, and coaching, I've seen and heard it all, especially as it relates to nutrition.

I always chuckle, shaking my head in amazement (and at times, disgust) as those emails pour into my inbox, boasting of the latest "cutting edge" info on a new nutrition "breakthrough," or a "recently discovered" biohack to a leaner better body, all delivered courtesy of any one of a plethora of internet marketeers (masked as "coaches" and self-proclaimed "experts"). Do you get those kinds of emails, too? You might be smart to delete most of them, I think.

So back to Tom and Sally - with their well intentioned but somewhat "flawed" efforts to improve, what did they learn?

The answer to that question is rooted in a philosophy that can be summarized with these words: BALANCE and MODERATION.

I also told them the same thing I'll say to you now: commit to eating in a way that is in harmony with your goals.

If you're wondering where to start, begin today with the guidelines below.  Remember balance and moderation.

For optimal results and enjoyment, apply them most of the time and especially around key training periods. 

  • Eat a varied and well-balanced diet, containing copius amounts of fruit, veggies, fat (especially those known as "good" fats), and quality protein.
  • Eliminate or minimize processed foods, especially those containing simple junk sugars.
  • Eat an amount that reflects your activity level and training volume (e.g. more calories in the days leading up to big training days, and less on other days).

This simple philosophy will then "set the table" for you to refine and personalize your approach, learning through experimentation and small tweaks.

It isn't about extremes, "biohacking,"or strict adherance to any one particular approach.  It also isn't about a "secret," marketed in a way that hooks you into believing there's an easier way - a magic bullet. There isn't.

It's about sound principles applied daily, combined with smart experimentation and continually dialing it in.

Ok, one more thing, some "food for thought" before I sign off: there is this certain 4-time IRONMAN Age-Group World Champion who is as tough, competitive, and committed as they come, who also happens to love chocolate and red wine!

Reflecting today's message of balance and moderation, I know she would never give up those awesome foods entirely; for her, they add richness and enjoyment to her life and they taste good! However, to her credit she also carefully picks her days to indulge, especially during key training periods, choosing to eat in complete harmony with her goals as an athlete.

Happy Eating!

~Coach Al

ps: Because so many of you have asked, yes.....I'll have more posts in the future on a ton of other nutrition topics, so stay tuned and don't forget to get in touch if I can help.

Are You Addicted To Sugar?


Americans on average consume an incredible amount of sugar.  Studies suggest that the average person consumes over 130 pounds of added sugar (much of it hidden) annually!  Believe it or not, the average endurance athlete isn’t any different when it comes to eating (and relying upon) too much sugar. Yes, it is true that sugar stored as glycogen in your muscles is your body’s preferred first source of fuel for training and racing. And yes, that stored glycogen also DOES fuel higher intensity efforts comparatively speaking.  However, if you want to go FASTER over LONGER distances, while being LEANER and HEALTHIER, your ultimate preferred fuel should be STORED BODY FAT, not sugar.

Before you can become that lean and mean, superb fat burning machine you want to be, you need to first reduce how much sugar you're eating on a daily basis. It really is that simple. The million dollar question becomes, how do you GET OFF the sugar drip, and TURN ON fat burning? Let's start with some questions first. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • Are you “hungry” first thing in the morning when you wake? (You shouldn’t necessarily be hungry upon wakening, but if you ate late or eat too much sugar, you are sure to wake feeling hungry!)
  • Do you experience cravings throughout the day for sugary foods (or mood swings)?  (A craving isn’t true hunger!)
  • Do you have a hard time stopping once you start eating sweets?
  • Do you find yourself needing something sweet as a “pick me up” during the day? (Blood sugar fluctuations mean your energy ebbs and flows, up and down. The need for a “pick me up” is common as a result).
  • Do you find you need some “calories” during training if you’ve been out for an hour or more? (True endurance is defined as your body’s ability to burn fat as a fuel. You ought to be able to exercise at a moderate intensity for many hours before “needing” additional calories!)

If you answered yes to any of these, you are NOT alone. If you want to get LEANER and stay HEALTHIER (and who doesn’t?), and become a BETTER fat burner, there are two things you MUST do:

1. Get off the sugar drip now: Your health AND your performance would greatly benefit from a firm commitment to completely QUIT sugar for at least two weeks (if not more).  It isn’t just the processed foods containing sugar (soda for example), it is also those natural forms of sugar (honey and maple syrup as an example), as well as all starches which are easily and rapidly converted into sugar.

2. Train to burn fat, not sugar: master your endurance nutrition: Learning how to become a better FAT burner isn't JUST about reducing your intake of sugar. How you approach your training nutrition and training also plays a role.

To learn what steps you need to take, watch our very popular Spreecast (webinar) called Master Your Endurance Nutrition, where we teach you step by step, everything you need to train better, blast bodyfat and improve your true endurance.

Also, consider our 14-day detox program: The easiest path to getting OFF the sugar drip is to have the nutritional and motivational support we provide with our own 14-day Detox program! Back by popular demand, this unique program from Designs for Health, has been hugely successful for hundreds of athletes just like you! We’re launching it on the 29th.

NOW IS THE TIME to make the changes you need, to be better than ever.

Listen, we all have a love/hate relationship with sugar.  What most people don’t know is that human beings are hard wired (evolution) to eat it.  After all, while sugary foods were in short supply and hard to come by at one time (picture yourself foraging through impossibly thick brush to get some berries or climbing a tree to get to a bee’s nest), sugar is now obviously easily accessible and ubiquitous. Detoxing from sugar and adopting a long-term, low-sugar lifestyle isn’t just important to get leaner and go further and faster, it’s absolutely essential to prevent chronic disease and stay healthy. A high sugar diet…

  • Makes you fat.
  • Promotes inflammation throughout the body.
  • Is closely correlated with every single chronic disease.
  • Speeds up the aging process.
  • Increases your risk of cancer and heart disease.
  • Limits your true endurance and speed.

If you want to be faster, stronger, leaner and feel younger, you need to get OFF the sugar drip right now.   Get in touch if we can help in any way. And don’t forget our detox program, which could be just the thing you need to break old bad habits and make the permanent changes that will set you on the path that will make 2015 and beyond, the best years of your life!

~Coach Al 


How about a DETOX BONUS!? **The first 10 people who read this and sign up for our detox  will get a FREE 20 minute consultation with me, Coach Al, to discuss any training or nutrition related topic they would like! SIGN UP NOW, and get YOUR FREE consult!  Let's talk training and nutrition!

How to get this special bonus? Easy! 1. Sign up for the detox! 2. Send me an email at  If you're among the first 10, we'll schedule our appointment!

DETOX DOUBLE BONUS: **Any one who reads this and sends me an email, we will send you a LINK to our special spreecast entitled LOW CARB, HIGH FAT FUELING: A Better Way?  We did this webinar for our team - it can be yours to view NOW.  Just email!

Engage Fully. All In. Own It! Do It 100%.

Hello Everyone!

Coach Al Lyman, Pursuit Athletic Performance, Gait Analysis and Functional Strength Training Expert

Coach Al Lyman, CSCS, FMS, HKS

The Pursuit triathlon team, as well as a group of really cool athletes outside of the team, are taking part in a 14-day detox program under our guidance and tutelage. What we hear from virtually all of the participants is that they have "wanted to do this for a while," or that they want to "get back on wagon of clean and healthy eating" to support their training and overall well being. The journey these athletes are on inspired me to write about OWNING a philosophy vs. borrowing or renting it.


With anything in life, it is up to each of us to decide which direction we go, what path we follow.

At certain crossroads, we sometimes decide to "try" something for a while. We give it a test drive, if you will. I see this a great deal with athletes who say they want to rebuild their swim or their running "from the ground up." They then make some moves in that general direction, and play around with the concept. In that play, however, they sometimes never experience the full benefits that might otherwise be there for them.

The problem with "test driving" a philosophy or a resolution, is that you're very rarely ever FULLY ENGAGED. You are never FULLY IN. And if you don't go FULL IN and OWN IT, you will likely not get out of it what you want.

For example, one of the really powerful aspects of the detox is that it asks people who decide to do it to commit FULLY. No rule breaking, no falling back into old habits......real change. Get out of your comfort zone. Take foods out that you've become habituated (OK, ADDICTED!) to, and start to add in more choices and options that you may not have tried before, but are extremely good FOR you.

It is the same for athletes who need some serious rebuilding based on the results of their gait analysis. Do the work. Banish that dysfunction and compensation. FULLY COMMIT to understanding how your body works, and do what it needs to unleash the performance you have long dreamed of.

A detox or a rebuilding program won't work or provide the results for you, if you don't COMMIT 100%. You can't rebuild your swim stroke taking it on half way. You can't run better until you drill down and engage with the elements that are holding you back. Having good nutrition augment your performance profile won't happen if you're eating junk half the time.

When you do OWN IT and give it time, you then get to ask and decide ....did it work for ME? Do you feel better? Look better? Have more energy (or less)? Did you lose a little unwanted body fat? Or...are you swimming/running faster? Are you stronger? Is your performance exploding?

The bottom line is this:

When we DECIDE to OWN IT, we are then in a position to honestly decide for ourselves IF IT WORKED--or not. We don't have to rely upon others to tell us, or to show us. We KNOW IT. We FEEL IT.

This is true for how we eat, and its also true for our path with TRAINING.

OWN THE PHILOSOPHY, don't rent or borrow it.

If you do, I will promise you that there's no looking back and they'll be no regret!

What are you test driving?

Master Your Endurance Nutrition Now! (Video)


Click Image to Go to Spreecast

Coach Al and Dr. Strecker present a FANTASTIC Spreecast, Smart Training and Racing Nutrition, jam-packed with nutrition best practices for mastering your endurance nutrition. Tuning in is time well spent to help you master the essentials to eating right, fueling correctly, all while turning yourself into a fat-burning racing machine.

Here's What You Will Learn:

How To Optimize Your Daily Nutrition includes a deep discussion of fat burning and what it's all about.

How To Optimize Your Fueling dives into periodization of your nutrition (just like your training) and presents carbohydrate guidelines

"The Magic Four" explores necessary daily strategies and common pitfalls

How To Fueling During Training pulls it all together

Post your questions in the comments or hit us up on Facebook. Feel free to share the link with your training friends who might benefit from the information!

Enjoy! Learn! Be Great!

P.S. When you watch the full Spreecast, you will see a slide deck. If you would like to move it, here's how. Hover, and you will see "drag window here." Then move it where you would like on the screen. Under the broadcast window works

Guided 14-Day Detox for Athletes, February 4-17. You Know You Need To!

Hey Everyone!

Kurt_DetoxDr. Kurt Strecker here with a great opportunity to jump start your nutrition before the 2013 season gets in full swing. We are offering, through our Facebook page, a 14-day guided detox program to help you:

  • Get Energized
  • Stop Eating The Junk
  • Lose Some Weight
  • Break Bad Eating Habits
  • Get Your Eating Mindset in Place for the Best Year Yet!

Not only are we known for extracting the best athletic performance from our athletes, but we guideDFH_Kit their nutrition closely too. For the detox, we carefully selected a kit by the best company we can recommend--Designs for Health (DFH). For 14 days we will guide you on a methodical, step-by-step plan. We assure you, the DFH program is nothing radical or depleting. Rather, it's a way for you to replenish and restore balance, and get you on the path to better eating and better performance over the long term.

We wanted to make this available to as many athletes as possible, and the most efficient way to do that is through Facebook. Here are the steps:

1. Please visit our page and give us a like.

2. Then click the above photo of Dr. Strecker on our Facebook page. That will take you to a video, additional information, and the order form. You can order your kit securely right on the detox site within Facebook.

Just how will we guide you?

  • Pre-detox, we will offer a live Spreecast on Thursday, January 31 at 7pm to answer questions, and get some mojo flowing!
  • We'll all start together on Monday, February 4. So eat those spicy wings watching the Super Bowl, and then get down to business.
  • You will be invited to join a private Facebook group where we will check in daily to offer support and information.
  • Download our Pursuit Detox document for additional information, Q&A, testimonials, and motivation.


Place your order securely right through our Facebook page by January 25 to insure delivery in the lower forty-eight through standard shipping. You can read more about the detox package on the order form on Facebook, as well.

Once you order, we will be in touch with how to join the group and the Spreecast details.

NOW is the time of year to do this! Join us to eat better, feel better, train better. Win-Win-Win!

Questions? Hit us up on Facebook!

Ask Coach Al: Nutrition Made Simple

Hello Everyone!

Coach Al Lyman, Pursuit Athletic Performance, Gait Analysis and Functional Strength Training Expert

Coach Al Lyman, CSCS, FMS, HKS

Coach Al here with a post inspired by a conversation a couple of my athletes were having regarding nutrition. Their talk began as a lament about how confusing it is to navigate all the conflicting information about how to eat well and fuel for performance.

There is no doubt that nutrition can SEEM complicated with all of the information "out there." My advice always is to simplify as much as possible. With that thought in mind, let's let's look at some of the topics my athletes were confused about and distill things down to the basics.

The basics of good nutrition and healthy eating are simple:

a. Avoid processed, packaged, and sugary foods as much as possible.

b. The great majority of what you eat should be fruits and veggies.

c. Good fats are not only good, they're great. Has anyone ever asked you how much "fat" you ate today? They should. It is essential to get in good fats.

d. Eat more calories earlier in the day, and less as the days goes on (king, queen, pauper).

e. If you're an endurance athlete, you NEED carbohydrates! Perhaps as much as 60-70% of calories, mostly from fruits and vegetables.

My thoughts on Paleo? If eating a Paleo diet means you're eating more fruits and veggies, and less junk and starch, then yes, it is a good thing.

Is Gluten Bad?

If you experiment and eliminate gluten from your diet and you feel better, then it, perhaps, may be "bad" for you. If you consume it on occasion and you don't notice adverse effects, it is likely perfectly fine for you to eat.

Is Rice Good?

YOU NEED carbs, and rice can be a good source of carbohydrate. Sports physiologist Allen Lim wants the cyclists he works with to be fully glycogen loaded when training, prompting him to recommend a source of concentrated calories from carbs as a staple in the diet. Rice fills that bill perfectly.


It is my personal opinion that it is not normal to drink the milk of another animal. Let me reiterate--that is my point of view. As with gluten, if you eliminate it from your diet and and you feel better, there is your answer. We don't necessarily NEED dairy to get enough in the way of minerals and protein. Much of our needs for those things can come from fruits and veggies--leafy greens especially.


It's about balance. In moderate quantities, whole-grain breads can be a good source of carbs. Sometimes we can go overboard and eat way too much carbohydrate in this form. A couple of slices with a sandwich? No harm in that.


In this day and age, athletes have become more aware of their protein intake than ever before. I would venture to say we have been "sold" on the benefits of a high-protein diet, both by the companies selling us protein powders of every description, as well as from the diet companies selling us on the benefits of a low-carbohydrate diet. My opinion is that we may be over doing our intake of protein, and maybe sacrificing the carbohydrates necessary for energy, as well as the good fats necessary for optimal health

Quality proteins, which can be found in many whole foods as part of a balanced healthy diet, should make up no more than about 25% of total daily calories for the typical hard training athlete. Individual needs may vary, of course. Excessive protein intake WILL NOT make you recover faster, or get "ripped" more easily, despite what the bodybuilding world would have you believe. Great recovery from training happens for many reasons, including making sure not to deplete carbohydrate completely (glycogen saturation). Recovery is also greatly enhanced by having a strong, stable body that moves well so you're not routinely shredding smaller muscles as they try to do the job of larger ones. Sleep is hugely important, as is a smart training progression. All of these things, and more, add up to great recovery. It is not about pounding large amounts of protein powders, seeking the magic bullet for fast results!


It seems clear to me that ANY kind of food that increases inflammation and/or increases the acidity of the body--starches, processed foods, sugars, and "bad" fats--is to be avoided as much as possible.

Keeping It Simple

We could go in depth for days on any one of the topics outlined above. But the purpose of this post is to help you keep it simple, and, therefore, executable in your life. The keys are:

  • Eat fruits and veggies of all varieties and in copious amounts.
  • Don't overdo protein intake at the expense of good carbohydrates.
  • Get plenty of good fats from nuts, seeds, fish, etc.
  • Time your meals to limit insulin and maximize fat burning.

Pretty simple.

Easy? Not always.

Shopping for fresh foods is work, and most quality foods are more expensive. Breaking habits and sticking to a plan, even if you know it is best for you, can be a challenge. Experimenting to find what works best for YOU, is also sometimes a chore.

Is this all worth it in the end?


In my opinion, we really are what we eat. What we eat matters more than what kind of exercise take part in when considering long term health and longevity.

Hope this helps. Coming soon, I will be posting more in-depth information about the issue of good fats in the diet.

Get strong, train smart, eat well!

-Coach Al