Metabolic Efficiency Training

About a week ago Alex sent me an email to check out the book "Metabolic Efficiency Training" by Bob Seebohar.

I'd seen a lot of chatter about the book and the plan on twitter, but to be honest I dismissed it out of hand because I didn't understand it properly.

The recommendation came from Atlanta based coach Gerry Halphen. He had implemented it into his lifestyle and found it to be beneficial.

I've had a long standing struggle with finding the best way to fuel my body for longer distance triathlon. I found the best answer for me using the First Endurance products, but I think they are one really important piece of a bigger puzzle. The other piece was how was I fueling my body in between workouts.

The "eating well between workouts" has always been a struggle for me and something I've really had an especially tough time with as of late.

While reading the book Bob's message of "Eat to Train" instead of "Train to Eat" resonated with me. I needed to find a way to view the food that I eat outside of workouts as fuel, just as I view my First Endurance products.

If I were to sum up the message of the book it would be
Many folks have GI issues after ingesting lots of sports drink and gels during long course triathlon. If you could train your body to use a higher percentage of fat for fuel (than it has previously) you can get through the race without having to INGEST as many calories because you have more calories at your disposal inside your body (yep, in the fat).

To train your body to do this eat your meals with protein, veg, fruit and avoid anything that would cause a sugar rush (i.e. grains, starches, simple carbs). Note that there are still LOTS of carbohydrates to be had in those Fruits and Veggies)

During workouts, do your training without sugary sports drinks and gels; yes even the long rides/runs (under 3 hours).

There is, of course, a component to this that is the type of training you are doing at this time of retaining your body to use fat. The book touches on the point that your workouts should be primarily aerobic. The book doesn't really cover training plans in any depth except to point out that your eating habits must change to support the needs of your workouts.

It is tough to give it a short description. I feel like I left out a lot of really important points. I recommend checking out the website for more information:

I have to say, I am not a fan of any daily diet that excludes an entire group of foods and that is exactly what this one does (in this case all grains - whole or otherwise). However, it is based on training periods and as you move into more intensity in your workouts, it does introduce whole grains back into the eating plan. I'm kind of okay with that.

The plan also reintroduces sports drink and gels as your training schedule gets closer to races and move into higher intensity training and rides over 3 hours. It does not recommend doing an entire long course triathlon with NO sugars/calories coming in, just less than you relied on before - hopefully leading to less chance of GI distress. So you can bet your bottom dollar when I get to that point I'll be reaching for my favorite First Endurance Products once again!! Ironically what drew me to the First Endurance line in the first place was that they placed higher emphasis on the Electrolytes than the sugars. I believe that using these products has put me in a much better place to attempt this plan than I would be if I'd been using other higher calorie products!

I like how SIMPLE it is for me to plan what I'm going to eat. Pick a protein, add Fruit and Veg. This is the type of thing I can handle, it's so not overwhelming.

Just as an example, here is what I had for breakfast this morning:

Yummy looking right?

I am currently on Day 3 of following the plan. My "plan" is to eat and train this way for the next three weeks and then determine if it is something worth pursuing long term.

I have to say though, I'm already feeling better and it's only Day 3. A couple of weeks ago I tweeted that I felt like I was on a caffeine/sugar roller-coaster and that I never felt like I had good energy anymore. Today I woke up with energy, and I haven't felt like that in a long time.

It feels good.

My training with the new fueling habits has been going fairly well. The book touches on the fact that you might have several training sessions with "bonking" as your body learns to use more fat than it has in the past for fueling purposes. Yesterday was my first long workout on the new plan. I did an 1:15 swim, 1:30 bike and :30 min run with just (not so) quick clothing changes in between. I only drank water and electrolytes during. afterward I had a LARGE salad with chicken and hard boiled egg. LOTS of veggies. Amazingly, I felt GREAT! And that afternoon I didn't have my typical drop in energy.

Before I embarked on this journey I took the following steps:
- Bought AND READ the book (go to for more info)
- I reached out to Gerry (the individual who had originally recommended the book)
- I also reached out to two local coaches to see if they had heard of the plan and to learn their opinion. Thanks for all the help Matthew and Shanks!
- yesterday I reached out to a coach on Twitter who went through the process and blogged her results and process: metabolic efficiency study results Thanks for reaching out Nicole! (@neo_endurance).

I'm hoping to blog about it fairly regularly as I continue through the process. Is there anything you all would like to hear about?


  1. Thanks for sharing Jill. I like the idea behind it. For sure could do without the energy drops after long workouts.

  2. Great post! I have been on the same roller coaster. I would love to hear how the long runs go without sugar. It makes a lot of sense!

  3. Sounds a lot like Paleo.

  4. Jill! I did this at the beginning of my training, and loved it! Saw a lot of results, and when the intensity picked up, and more speed sessions entered the picture I did find I need to add in grains and sports products, but I definitely didn't need as much as I used to, and my energy levels are still pretty high! I definitely think that changing the diet, just like we do with our training programs makes sense. I look forward to hearing what your experience is as you get further in!

  5. So I starting training so I could eat and have been working on changing that mindset. I think I will check out that book. My problem is that I am not a good meat eater. I don't like the texture for the most part. Weird, right?

    Also I have been reading a lot about training "your gut" for long races the way you train your body. I think there is a lot to that. I mean, we train and train without the gels we will have on the race course, or not using them like we are racing, then hit the race and use them differently then in training and wonder why we have GI issues...

  6. Sounds like you are off to a great start! Keep it up and enjoy the energy!

  7. I've had this book for a while, and have read it a few times. I actually sat with Bob during a USAT course a few years back and learned of this first hand before the book came out. I love the concept - but I SUCK at executing it. Mostly because I suck at going to the grocery store to have everything I need. *sigh* I have been toying with giving it another go. Maybe I'll ride your coattails and see if I can follow through. :)

  8. Really interesting stuff Jill. I won't lie, even for short 30 minute trainer rides, I still fill up a whole bottle of EFS just out of habit.

    I may look at adapting some of my training and non-training nutrition, but I'm looking forward to hearing how this works for you!


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