Trial and Error with Nutrition

By Garrett – November 5, 2013

Having been a competitive athlete for the past 20 years, trial and error has been one of the mainstays of my success. As a new business student at Acton MBA in Entrepreneurship here in Austin, I’m learning that some of the biggest keys to success as an entrepreneur are the same principles I’ve been applying as an athlete: Test early, test often, and test inexpensively. As entrepreneurs, the goal is to constantly make trial-and-error experiments that test both our product and our target customers. As athletes (and, generally, as humans), we do this exact same thing with our sport.

Think of this principal in terms of your training nutrition. The product you’re testing is the food you’re putting into your body; your target customer is YOU. Here’s how you apply those keys to success:

Test early. Don’t wait three months, six months, a year, or five years to begin the process of testing different foods and techniques in your diet. From the get-go, implement little experiments according to how you feel and how you perform. Don’t be afraid; the worst that can happen is that a food doesn’t give you fuel that lasts, or that you don’t feel your best during the workout or race.

Test often. If one thing doesn’t work, try something else. It took me a long time to figure out that a sweet potato is my favorite pre-race meal, and that oatmeal with milled flax seeds, almond butter, almond milk, blueberry jam, and fresh blueberries is my favorite pre-workout breakfast for providing long lasting and quality fuel. The sooner you start the process of finding your magical foods, the sooner you can see the direct benefits of eating them. By constantly experimenting with how your body reacts to a variety of foods, you can quickly determine what works and what doesn’t. Don’t get discouraged if something doesn’t deliver results or your workout suffers in the process of finding out that a certain food makes you feel a little bit sick. By testing various options with high frequency, you’ll be amazed by how fast you can start to find things that you like and that fuel your performance to its max.

Test inexpensively. Don’t try a new food experiment the night before, or morning of, your big race. Pick an “inexpensive” training session or small race to try out new foods. Your goal is to combine all of your efforts to further and further refine your nutrition plan toward that “expensive” goal, your big race. Test new foods on the workouts and races where you can afford to maybe not feel your best. (This same idea, by the way, works for getting the best performance at your office, in a board meeting, or in a big presentation.)

Fail early and often. The sooner you find things that don’t work, and the more times you experience failure, the closer you will be to finding out what really works.

As you go through the testing process, keep a journal so you can make notes that help to systematically refine what you’re putting into your body. And, no, this isn’t just for those of you who are serious athletes or training for a race; these concepts apply universally to food and the discover process of how it makes you feel.

Write down the following information:

  • The date.
  • What you ate.
  • When you ate it—that is, how long before you worked out or raced.
  • How it made you feel in your workout, your race, or even at your office.
  • How long the energy lasted in your body.
  • How effectively the specific food or meal helped you achieve success. You definitely need to pay close attention to this one. You might even want to go so far as giving each food a grade, since this will help you look back and decipher which foods or meals made you feel your best.

In order to get the most out of your body and mind, you have to act like an entrepreneur. Be excited about the challenge and process of figuring out what works for you and how to use that information to fuel for the results you want to achieve. Yes, it can be scary to embark on a new journey to lose weight, run your first marathon, enter a triathlon, or even set a goal of going to the Olympics one day. Understand that someone just like you has achieved each of these goals, and that it is totally possible to accomplish what you desire. Although I am a relatively new entrepreneur, I have been in the sporting realm for almost two decades; believe me when I say that the best performers maximize their potential largely through trial and error, and by keeping track of their results.

Be an entrepreneur in your journey with food and health. Your goal should be to build an incredibly powerful mind and body that can manufacture the results you desire. The achievement you are working for can be reached…just make sure you’re marching down the right path by testing early, testing often, and testing inexpensively. afm

 
 

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