I get asked all the time, “What do you eat?” I'm about to let you in on a shocking secret, the answer is "Not what I should!" Luckily for you though, I’ve been spending the past few months changing that.
It's no secret that when we eat better, we feel better. When I'm eating high quality, nutritionally dense food my energy is up I easily power through 3 days of lifting, 5 Spin classes and 15+ miles of running per week. When I’m eating right I also do not stress about those 15 running miles becoming 30 or more during marathon training (which is starting soon!).
As I continue planning for my increased mileage, I’ll be sharing some of my “fueling for performance tips,” and nutrition log. Eventually I’ll write these principles into a full, three week 'eat this' guide, to share in my Fall Running Clinic. Today, this post will give you a good idea of what direction I’m moving in with my nutrition.
Now, before I get started it's important for you to know that this is my diet plan, designed for me. Sure, you can take these principles and apply them to your own life, but if you’re considering making any changes to your diet, I recommend talking to a doctor and/or registered dietitian first. I am neither. I am simply an endurance athlete who has spent a lot of time researching healthy eating.
With that in mind, here are the principles I’ll be following over the next few weeks. I’ll post my own progress, etc. and use what I learn to develop a more in-depth guide for the runners I coach.
The Principles of My Diet
- Eat nutritionally dense foods.
- Don’t stress over ‘calories in, calories out,’ just eat quality food.
- Limit all grains (bread, cereal, bagels, pasta, etc.).
- Limit all sugars & fake sugar (fruit and naturally occurring sugars are okay in moderation).
- Buy foods with minimal ingredients (5 or less is best).
- Get as many colors on your plate as you can (dark leafy greens, red & green peppers, apples, sweet potatoes, etc.).
- Don’t drink your calories (already covered by ‘no sugar’ is coke, pepsi, Gatorade, juice with added sugars, flavored lattes, frappucinos, etc). Distilled liquor (vodka, gin, scotch, etc) is better than fermented/brewed alcohol (beer & wine).
- Keep meals simple and consistent to limit planning (I eat the same breakfast, lunch and snacks all week, then get creative with dinner).
The Basic Idea -Less Carbs, Less Sugar
I never thought I would be one to jump on the ‘low carb’ craze, especially with all the endurance sports I enjoy, but the more I listen to experts like America’s Angriest Trainer, Vinne Tortorich, read from biohackers like Dave Aspery & Ben Greenfield, and paleo crossfiters like Brian Mackenzie, the more I’m seeing some pretty compelling arguments for ditching (or limiting) sugars and grains.
With that in mind, I’ll be shooting to reduce the amount of sugars and grains I include in my diet, both with the food I’m preparing myself and with what I order when I’m dining out.
Also, I’m not as concerned with the calories of each meal, or even the individual foods that go into each meal, as long as those foods meet the principles listed above. So, if you have a recipe that calls for tomato sauce, make sure you pick one made without sugar (like Nature’s Basket Three Cheese).
Changing Things Up
Variety is the spice of life, but not a nutrition plan! One major reason people don’t stick with diets is that they’re hard to plan. Who wants to worry about Friday’s meal on Sunday night? And while it’s nice to have a variety of foods to choose from, the truth is too many choices lead to too many decisions. Too many decisions lead to a brain explosion. Luckily the internet is full of healthy, easy to prepare recipes that you can repeat day after day!
Sure, you’ll want to vary things up a bit, but if you get the basic principles figured out, the possibility of making different choices are almost endless. For me, to keep things simple, I like to keep things consistent for breakfast, lunch and snacking throughout the week and use dinner to bring in the variety. If you make enough for dinner you can use leftovers for the next day’s lunch.
Sticking to the Plan
I’m pretty good at sticking with outlined plans, so I don’t foresee “cheating” much, but there will be times when it’s not practical or easy to follow. Maybe a weekend picnic, dinner at the in-laws, or lunch with friends will add some complexity. In those circumstances, I’m going to do the best I can to make the best choices possible (based on the principles outlined above).
While I don’t have a formal, ‘eat this on this day’ calendar yet, I do plan on tracking all my meals, making sure they follow the principles above, and recording them into a formal calendar that others can follow if they choose to. For now, here is a basic list of things I plan on including. This will definitely expand with recipes, substitutions and more.
Breakfast –Keep it simple & consistent all week
· Cottage Cheese (2% or 4%) & Fruit (berries are best but you could do pineapple, apple, banana, etc).
· Omelets (I like 3 eggs, spinach, ham & as many other veggies as possible). Skip the ketchup and toast, but use a no sugar added salsa or hot sauce if you need a sauce.
· Smoked Salmon & Avocado
Lunch –Keep it simple & consistent all week
You’ll notice the wraps do have ‘grains’ because of the Sante Fe Tortillas. I’m okay making an exception with these because the fiber is high, they’re whole grain, and the net carbs are low. I only use this brand because they do not use ‘hydrogenated oils’ in the ingredients.
· Lunch Meals
o Wraps: 3oz of lunch meat on a “Sante Fe Tortillas” (from Sam’s Club or Costco) with 1oz of cheddar, or other cheese, lettuce, and whatever other veggies you can stuff in it (I use jalapenos) and hot sauce. Stay away from sugary mustards or condiments.
o Salads: Easy, make a salad with some romaine, spinach, fresh veggies, some cheese & a protein like chicken or salmon. Vinegar & Extra Virgin Olive Oil is best for a dressing, but you can grab an organic dressing made without sugar too.
· Lunch Sides
o On workout days a baked sweet or regular potato makes for a good side with cream cheese or salsa.
o You can also use steam-able veggies as an easy side, a small salad, or some fruit
· For dinner I’ll be using low sugar and grain recipes just pulled from the internet. I’ll include several when I put out my full guide, and you’ll be able to see everything I log online. This week I’m planning on
o Chicken Salads
o Zucchini Lasagna
o Grilled Salmon & Veggies
o And probably a night or two out
Your go to foods when you’re hungry between meals!
· Choices I like
o String cheese sticks, almond butter & apple, peanut butter or almond butter (be sure your nut butters do not have added sugar) on a Sante Fe Wrap, baked potato (on a run or spin workout day).
· These are pulled from “Vinnie Tortorich’s ‘No Sugar No Grains’ group on Facebook.
· Low glycemic fruit, cut veggies, hard boiled eggs, beef jerky, full fat cheese, raw nuts, olives, pumpkin seeds, 85% or greater dark chocolate, deviled eggs (homemade mayo), pepperoni slices, coconut oil, avocado, lettuce rolled up with smoked salmon and full fat cream cheese, hummus and celery, pickles, tofu, shot of olive oil, coffee with heavy cream (or grass fed butter, or coconut oil).