Over the past month or so Romney and I have been fighting a bug we picked up in Europe. While we’ve been able to perform through it—meaning we’ve been able to work and exercise—it hasn’t allowed us to train and diet with our usual vigor. I’ve written a lot about not training when you’re sick and other times when it’s best to back off of your training, but I don’t think I’ve written much on when you shouldn’t diet. Fighting illness is one of those times.
It probably seems obvious that your need nutrients when you’re sick. Illness is both the opposite and the same thing that exercise is to your body. It’s physical breakdown. So in the same way that your nutrient needs change while you’re training they change while you’re sick.
There is one big difference. Training is—-or should be—-planned and self induced. Illness obviously is not. This means that you can attempt to match your diet to your training. For example, you can both lose weight and gain targeted muscle mass if you eat well and target your nutrient intake properly. When you’re sick, however, you can’t guess exactly what is wrong and, therefore, you can’t be as precise with your diet. Attempting to reduce caloric intake when you’re sick could deprive your body of nutrients needed to fight your illness and end up prolonging it. So during times of illness I always err on the side of eating more.
Of course this is dependant on your daily lifestyle. If you’re over indulgent in general than you may end up eating less when you’re sick. You’re body doesn’t need a six pack, bag of chips, or pint of ice cream when it’s sick. It needs nutrients. If those are part of your daily regimen you can eat healthy foods all day long and still probably be reducing your caloric intake. But if, say, you’re doing Insanity and it’s lean diet plan you’ll, for sure, want to start eating more until you feel better.
Professional athletes during the height of their seasons, especially those in weight dependant sports, are always on the verge of getting sick. This is because they fine tune their bodies to the upmost; watching every calorie and training full bore. When you’re training hard and eating clean, especially if you’re trying to lose weight, you’re body is similar to one of an athlete. The more finely tuned a machine is the easier it is for something to go wrong. When you throw illness into the fray it’s time to stop redlining, throttle back your RPMs, and cruise for a while.
It’s always tough to shed germs picked up on a different continent. Adding a lot of air traveling into the mix makes it harder to shake. We’ve both been on the move since we got home and finally, a month later, we’re ready get our training and diet back on the rivet; eschewing extra calories and burning off the stored body fat we no longer need for protection with some hard training.