2. Hyperinsulinemia: One of the detrimental effects of the "big meals infrequently" paradigm is excessive levels of insulin in the bloodstream. The larger the caloric load consumed, the more insulin created. Higher than normal insulin levels in the bloodstream forces fat into the cells.
3. Even Distribution: As a start to proper caloric distribution, Benardot suggests simply splitting the meals you already eat into 5 to 6 chunks throughout the day rather than mountains of food 1 to 2 times daily. "Whatever you normally have for breakfast, have half early in the morning then half mid-morning," he suggests. "Do the same with both lunch and dinner."
4. Ghrelin and Skipping Meals: Ghrelin is a hunger-stimulating peptide that controls, in large part, our body's hunger level. While skipping meals has become a Western ritual often practiced under the false notion that this will reduce caloric intake healthfully, the overwhelming research has shown that skipping meals wreaks havoc on Ghrelin levels, causing the opposite effect. "People who skip or delay meals tend to take in more calories," says Benardot. This is even more evidence for continued and evenly distributed eating.
Find Your Ideal Training Weight and Racing Weight
Long-distance runners tend to be as—if not more—concerned as any population with their weight. For generations, runners have worked to be as lean as possible for racing. But while general parameters can be targeted, just how much an athlete "should" weigh to maximize both training and racing is largely personal to the athlete; a runner's ideal racing weight is determined by body type and plain old trial and error.
Matt Fitzgerald, author of Racing Weight—How to Get Lean for Peak Performance and the recently released Racing Weight Cookbook, emphasizes that many of the best long-distance runners simply test their weights against their levels of both training and racing to determine ideals. "The only way to do it is by experience," says Fitzgerald. "You can make rough estimates but the people who really know simply train smart and eat right."