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Triathlete Love: The Hangry Games

  • By Susan Lacke
  • Published Apr 30, 2014
Photo: Shutterstock.com

For better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; and for every time I have to tell my grumpy triathlete to eat a candy bar.

Scientists have given us yet another reason to refuel properly after long rides: it may save your relationship. A new study suggests that the notion of being “hangry”—so hungry you’re angry—is a real thing.

In a study of more than 100 married couples, low blood glucose levels were correlated with increased feelings of annoyance, anger and aggression toward a spouse. For 21 days, husbands and wives were given a voodoo doll and told to stick pins in it depending on how angry their spouse had made them. At the same time, participants used a blood glucose meter to test their blood sugar.

The results, reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that lower blood glucose coincided with more pins being stuck in voodoo dolls.

I believe this. Though Neil and I don’t fight often, our arguments always take place during or after workouts when I’ve failed to fuel properly. One minute, everything is fine; the next, I’m threatening to murder Neil because he put an empty jar of peanut butter back in the pantry. If I had a voodoo doll during those moments, I’d bypass the pins altogether and head straight for the meat cleaver. This is Thunderdome, and I need a sandwich, dammit.

RELATED – Triathlife With Jesse Thomas: I Eat A Lot And That’s OK

Luckily, Neil’s able to keep his cool during my hangry meltdowns (he also never, ever bonks while training–the two are related, yes?). On more than one occasion, he’s diffused my table-flipping rage by gently putting his arm around my irritable pissy pants and cooing those six magic words: “Honey, will you please eat something?”

Sometimes, when I’m really bad, he just silently hands me a Coca-Cola and walks away.

This used to inspire more hangry rage, but now I realize he’s right. I’d say it out loud, but it’s hard to talk with a mouthful of watermelon.

Hunger plays a large part in our ability to regulate emotions. Self-control requires energy, and both are hard to come by after a tough brick workout or long day on the bike. In turn, the smallest things (ahem, peanut butter) can set off a domino effect of spandex-clad vehemence. Like the Incredible Hulk, hangry triathletes rarely mean what they say or do during a rampage, but our abuses sting nonetheless.

Though I appreciate how my well-fed (and therefore patient) partner calmly points out when I’m acting like an asshat, the ideal situation would be one where these hanger-induced outbursts don’t happen at all— and for that to happen, I have to take responsibility. A post-workout smoothie won’t solve all of the fights we’ll ever have, but it very well could prevent most of them.

So the next time I feel myself getting peeved with my precious, I’m going to excuse myself from the conversation for a moment to raid the fridge.

It’s an act of love, I swear.

RELATED – Triathlete Love: An Ironman-Sized Appetite

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