A few of you mentioned that you’d like to hear about my adventures with reading Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald, cutting out desserts and sweets and the changes I’ve made as a result. So here you go.
I read Racing Weight in January after I ran between 55-70 miles per week and only lost oh, 2 lbs despite being hungry for basically four months. I ate a lot, but I was running a lot and should have been able to lean up more than I did (full disclosure here, I’m lean but not tiny or huge). If you’re interested, the book is a fantastic read and I highly recommend it. Matt goes through the science of why endurance athletes need certain kinds of macronutrients, when you need them and why it matters. I won’t do him justice and I believe in copyright laws, so I won’t quote directly, but it’s a great read. Plus, in the back he has a food diary from a ton of different elite athletes that I found really helpful. Oh and recipes. Not a ton of it was new information to me, but having it all in one place and explained well was great.
The biggest thing I took away from the book is that I wasn’t eating enough at breakfast and specifically not enough carbs. Normally I’d come home from a 6-8 mile run and eat 1/2 cup of oatmeal with some milk and a bit of sugar in it. Maybe 200 calories at the most. After burning 600-800 calories I’d be starving by 9am but for some reason it never ocurred to me to eat more. So, since reading the book I’ve basically doubled my breakfast and added sliced almonds and berries or dried fruit to the mix. It’s actually kind of amazing how much better I feel in the morning now. And I can last until 10:30 am or sometimes even 11 without a snack. And I don’t feel sick all morning.
I also realized that I wasn’t eating enough healthy fats. Matt explains it all a lot better but athletes don’t need quite as much protein as you’d think, but they can use fat as fuel. So, I’ve been making an effort to eat more olive oil, avocado and nuts (I eat an embarrassing amount of nuts) and I switched to 2% dairy products. Not only do I feel better but adding in the fat makes me feel full longer. And it wasn’t a lot I added– 1/4 avocado on my sandwich, handful of nuts at lunch, tiny bit of olive oil at dinner– you get the picture. But I do try and make an effort to put fat in every meal.
Normally I don’t eat before runs and I still don’t on easy runs less than 9 miles, but I’ve been in the habit of eating about 250 calories before a hard workout or tempo run and it makes a huge difference. I usually do an english muffin with some PBJ which sits well in the stomach and provides good fuel.
So after a couple of months I have definitely lost a couple of pounds and more importantly, I feel like I am recovering better from my runs. Also, and maybe this is TMI but for the last 18 months my female cycle has been really irregular and usually totally gone but since making these changes it’s back. That just confirms to me that my body is getting what it needs. And I’m still at about 40-55 miles per week pretty regularly, so it’s not like I’m running a normal amount or something 🙂
So on to cutting out sweets. I don’t think I’ve expressed this but um I LOVE dessert. Like, LOVE IT and can’t control myself. So for Lent I gave it all up. Everything. It was really hard at first and there were days I wanted to crack, but overall it was a positive experience. First of all, every time I wanted dessert it was an opportunity for reflection and secondly, I just felt better. I was less hungry, my skin was super clear and my energy levels were way more consistent. And to be honest, I didn’t even eat that much sugar before!
So after that experience I’ve decided to allow myself some kind of treat once a week, but no more from now until June. I do well with deadlines, so that’ll work for me. Let’s be clear– I live my life. I ate a stupid amount of carrot cake the week of my birthday and it was amazing but for the foreseeable future I want to keep as much refined sugar out of my diet as I can. And obviously keep booze to a dull roar.
Hopefully that’s helpful. Maybe I’ll document what I eat again. But basically it’s like this:
Pre run (3 days/ week)
Ezekiel English muffin with 1 tbsp PB and 1 tbsp J
1 cup oatmeal, 1/4 cup milk, 4 tbsp sliced almonds, blueberries, tbsp brown sugar, cinnamon
2% greek yogurt with 1/2 cup Kashi GoLean Crunch (if I ran more than 6, cereal is a treat for running)
1 serving lunch meat turkey, 1/4 avocado, tomato on a 100 calorie sandwich thin, 1 cup baby carrots, 2 tbsp hummus
Apple, 1 serving whole almonds (4pm)
Office pretzels (one serving) (2:30 pm)
Lara Bar or other bar if I’m still hungry or working past 7 (usually if I run 9-10 that morning, 5pm ish)
Varies but very typical would be 2 eggs, english muffin (whole wheat), 1/4 avocado, tomato and sprouts or
Large salad with lots of veggies and chicken + brown rice or quinoa
2% yogurt with honey and walnuts
If you have questions ask away. I might know, I might not 🙂