Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Another day, another nutrition plan

Did you ever wonder what happened with my low-carb diet I was planning a month or so ago? I actually stuck with it for two weeks, but didn't really get much in the way of results. The problem was, I just wasn't getting enough energy to handle the training runs I was doing, so I couldn't train effectively. I was also constantly hungry and craving food. I did a fairly good job sticking to the low-carb portion of the diet, but I at so many nuts and other high-calorie snacks that in the end I didn't lose more than a few pounds.

So now I'm trying out another nutrition plan, this one designed specifically for marathoners and half-marathoners by nutritionist Matt Fitzgerald. It's from his book The New Rules of Marathon and Half-Marathon Nutrition: A Cutting-Edge Plan to Fuel Your Body Beyond 'the Wall'. I've been favorably impressed with Fitzgerald's other work, most notably his book "Racing Weight." In this new book he's developed a much easier-to-follow diet that he claims will help marathoners attain their ideal racing weight.

In this book, Fitzgerald divides foods into 10 groups, each ranked according to their health value for runners:

  1. Vegetables
  2. Fruits
  3. Nuts and Seeds
  4. Fish and Lean Meats
  5. Whole Grains
  6. Dairy Products
  7. Refined Grains
  8. Fatty Meats
  9. Sweets
  10. Fried Foods
There are two basic rules to the diet:
  1. Eat the recommended amount of carbs for your level of training
  2. Eat more of the "better" foods than the "worse" foods
The recommended carbs are 3-4 grams per kilogram of body weight for someone exercising 30-45 minutes a day. For every 15 minutes of additional exercise, you consume 1 more gram per kilo.

For me, at 185 pounds (83 kg), I average about 60-75 minutes of exercise per day, so that's 5-6 grams * 83 kg, or 415-498 grams of carbs per day. That's a lot of carbs! Even when I'm carbo loading, I consume about 800 grams of carbs per day, so this is nearly 60 percent of what I consume while carbo loading.

The second rule is more complicated than it sounds. You don't just eat more veggies, fruits and nuts than you do fatty meats, sweets, and fried foods. You eat more servings of each category than the next-lower category. You can skip some categories (like meat / fish if you're vegetarian, or grains if you're on the paleo diet), but for each category you eat, you have to eat more than the next category below it.

Fortunately, you don't track all this on a daily basis, you track it on a weekly basis. But it still means that you can consume very little of the items on the bottom of the scale. For every sweet you eat, you will end up having to eat 6 to 10 servings of veggies!

In order to get a lot of carbs, I'll have to eat a lot of fruit -- which means I'll have to eat even more veggies! But, given that most veggies are very low in carbs, it means I will be consuming lots of fiber, which is very filling, so I feel like this diet will probably be easier to stay on than the low-carb diet.

I've been tracking my food choices for the past couple days, and it looks to me like my problem area is going to be dairy. I like my yogurt, cheese, and sour cream, and I'm probably going to have to eliminate some of that from my diet to make the numbers add up.

Fitzgerald has some more specific advice for diet modifications during tapering and recovery, and since I'm currently tapering for Boston, I'll cover that as well -- in a separate post.

Finally, an update on yesterday's post about recovering from the flu. I'm feeling much better after two days' rest and doing easy runs this morning and yesterday morning, so hopefully I'll be fine by the time the race rolls around. I'll keep you posted!

1 comment:

  1. Even Edison found thousands of ways that didn't work.