Archive for the ‘food’ Category

The Paleo Diet and Exercise

April 22, 2011

Today I cannot believe how good I feel. Between last night at 5:30 and this morning at 7:30 I swam 3000 yards and then ran 3.3 miles and then after sleeping rode the bike for 60 minutes, followed by a 4.5 mile run. This afternoon my legs do not hurt whatsoever, the heavy feeling that I often have in my legs after long hard glycogen eating workout is just not there. I think I figured out how I did it too!

All last year I put a lot of focus on eating before and after a workout and came to the conclusion that although I might feel good for the workouts I end up eating too much and then by the end of the day eating more than I planned or wanted to. My problem on retrospect was I did it for all my workouts when I should have just been doing it for the particularly long or intense ones. Like today. An even better way probably is to just listen to the cravings in the body and have a plan for what to do. Doing it for the less intense and shorter ones gave me cravings that had me eating more.

I recently read an article about how to modify the paleo diet for athletes (link is below). That coupled with the fact that this morning I was ravenously hungry after the workout and had not brought the food with me that I intended to eat made me stop in a convenience store on the way to work. And I sort of did the experiment by accident. With recent similar workouts and lots of leg soreness to compare it to, I am happy to report that this method is much, much better.

So here is the run-down of the eats and workouts for the 24 hours from lunch to just before lunch. I want to show it because I am proud of it and I think it will compare to what many triathletes put their body through for long and/or intense workouts.

  • Lunch:

split pea soup 175 calories
lunch ham slices 50 calories

  • Snack 3:00

Apple 80 calories
FRS Chew 20 calories

  • Pre-workout Snack 4:00

Banana 100 calories

  • Workout

Swim 3000 yards about 60 minutes
Run 3.3 miles (intended 4.0 but ran out of time)

  • Post Workout Snack

12 oz Smoothie (orange juice conc, strawberries, wheat germ, egg protein) 120 calories

  • Dinner about 50 minutes after workout

Tortilla, with 2 eggs and 2 oz ham slices 340 calories
Cran-pomegranate juice 100 calories

  • Bed time after watching Survivor from the TIVO (slept 6 hours normally I get 8-9)
  • Pre-workout Meal

Power Bar 240 calories
FRS chew 20 calories

  • Workout

Bike 60 minutes (about 800 calories burned, 5 1:10 intervals at 300-350W, average 200W)
HEED in bottle about 100 calories worth
Run 4.5 miles (added some “sprintervals” .25 miles @6.5, .16 miles @7.5, .11 miles @8.5 to the middle of the workout)

  • Post workout

(smoothie shop closed this early, forgot food and only had a green smoothie and a cheese stick with me, I ate the cheese stick and drank a sip of the smoothie which I now call “bad recipe” smoothie cause it was gross tasting)
Cheese stick 80 calories

  • Convenience store stop

(I had a strong craving and this little meal was extremely satisfying, this was energy dense food and I estimate I ate about 6 calories per second, luckily it wasn’t a buffet or I would have blown the week’s intake!)
Cran grape juice 240 calories
Protein builder bar 270 calorie ($2.69 was a penny a calorie! expensive)

  • Snack 10:00 am

FRS Chew 20 calories
Green smoothie (water, banana, kale, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, cocoa powder, cayenne pepper) 110 calories (using turmeric and ginger as anti-inflammatory not as flavorings which gives higher grossness factor)

So there are several things going on here I think. First is the paleo diet where you try and eat more like a caveman did. (The Paleo diet is how I have been able to begin to tend to eat more like 1800-2000 calories a day when my diet typical to last year I would tend to eat more like 2400-2600 calories a day.) Another way of describing the diet is to eat more of what is natural and less of the processed foods. I am not specifically promoting thepaleodiet.com, rather I am promoting the idea of eating foods a step or two closer to how they were eaten as humans evolved. I clearly am not following the diet too well, but my main three meals of the day are normally more paleo than non when I am having a good day. I seriously modified breakfast since I was just getting ready for and coming off a 1:49 workout. That though is the whole point of the post however.

The paleo diet in and of itself is difficult to stay on as an athlete. Here is the article I read about the modification to the paleo diet for athletes. In the article it is clear that you only modify the diet for long or intense workouts, none of this if you were reading a magazine on a recumbent bike spinning at 50 rpm! The basic idea is to modify the amount you eat based on your energy needs at the time. For example, you start by eating a carb type food just before the workout and then during a drink or gel or whatever if its long, and then after you get the 4:1 carb:protein drink/meal to get the muscles the nutrients they recover best at.

If you only read one of the links I put in here this is the one to read, it goes into much more detail that I found simply astonishing. The site has a bunch of great articles if you have a couple of free hours for that matter.
training peaks paleo diet for athletes article

I then sipped on a green smoothie that had anti-inflammatory properties in the hopes that the damage from running is healed. Another thing I should mention is that I did 3 miles running Saturday, then a 10k race with a PR of 55 minutes on Sunday, a run of 4.3 miles Monday and 4.1 miles on Tuesday before the workouts shown. So you can see why I am worried about pain. I now go into a day off, which is really more like 2 days off since I finished so early in the day. This is my peak week for my upcoming half marathon in 3 ½ weeks. I will hit 30 miles (Mon-Sun is my week), the most ever in a week for me.

Anti-inflammatory foods are typically associated with baby boomers and their aging needs. But the way I see it I have chronic pain brought on by the periodization training scheme to get ready for half marathons and triathlons. Its only chronic in that I provide stresses to my body, which is slightly overweight, and then need to recover before I move on. So while perusing the category you will often see things like chronic pain, arthritis, heart disease, and stroke. But it seems pretty obvious to me that the same types of things will help a runner that bangs away on their legs day after day. So when reading the resources you have to keep this in mind.

Wikipedia Anti-Inflammatory Food
Dr Weil Anti-Inflammatory Diet Description
Dr Weil Anti-Inflammatory Diet Pyramid
Livestrong Anti-Inflammatory Herbs Article

So here I sit knee free of pain and no dead leg feeling when I get up from the computer to walk around (to the bathroom because of all the water I am drinking). I think I might have done a great job in getting ready for my half marathon this year. (I drink this type of green smoothie often so I am not sure how long it might take someone from their first time to see the benefits FYI).

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Eat Your Veggies (or Drink them?)

March 19, 2010

I just found the secret to getting the recommended servings of vegetables each day. Not just what to eat but how to eat it. (I am supposed to eat 3.5 cups of veggies and 2 cups of fruit a day according to the http://www.mypyramid.gov.)

Green Smoothies are all the rage nowadays. What better way to get all that you need in one quick dose? Now of course there are people out there that are going to say that comment shows how ignorant I really am. These smoothies are drunk by these people because they taste good. Yeah right! Now I am not saying that brainwashing yourself is a bad thing, but look at it this way, we are trying to get those that think I am a nut for considering it to actually try one. Anything to make it easier to eat your veggies I am all for.

So the how to get your veggies is easy, stuff them in a good blender with some liquid and puree. You can fit a whole 3.5 cup portion of a green leafy mix into the blender and get it down to about a 24 oz drink I think. If you can be brave for the 10 seconds it takes to down the beast you can mix it with water and drink something like 40 calories. Now it won’t taste good, but there are ways to work on that. Find a good recipe. Personally I am going to try and use nonfat milk to add protein in there and then a sweet fruit of some sort to bump it up to 200 calories but make it have a chance at tasting good.

When to drink the nasty beast? If you are working out regularly, drink that sucker as your recovery drink. You might want to add more fruit like say a banana and make sure the total calories comes to something like 300 if you worked out for an honest hour. It would be best if it was about 60 calories of protein and 240 calories of carbohydrates. You can even dump the whey isolate powder in there if you are worried about the speed it gets into your blood stream. Better if you just have it sitting there to start sipping as you are doing the last steps of your cool down, or starting on it the second you are done if you can’t take it along. None of the showering and lounging around before you head off to make it is what I am getting at.

Don’t take my word for it either. I found a few links for you to explore.

First is a great podcast/blog called Zen and the Art of Triathlon and a link to his post on how to make the green smoothie. I listened to his podcasts and he sort of records while he is doing other things. One of the things that made it to his podcast, besides being nekkid in bed with his wife wearing bicycle helmets for protection, was that he drinks green smoothies with something called spirulina in them. I bought some and made one solely because of his podcast.

Second is a blog entry that talked about these vile green smoothies as if they were the height of delicious eating. OK not really, but they do seem to like them quite a bit over there. They give you tips about how to make them so that you don’t revolt from the first one and never come back. Here is my tip on that front, don’t add 2 tablespoons of spirulina to your first one like I did (Thanks coach Brett for making me think this was a good idea). Spirulina is an algae that is very good for you and hence tastes like crap and smells a bit fishy and pond-like.

In fact here is a story about my first green smoothie I hope you will enjoy.

I made the smoothie last night before a long morning workout and there was too much for the container by about a quarter cup so I figured I’d taste it. Yuk! It smelled a bit fishy, and the spinach made it earthy while the grapes must not have been ripe, because there was no sweetness in that puppy. I added 3 packets of Truvia (stevia) hoping that was enough but not bold enough to taste it again to find out. I probably could have used another 1 or 2 more. The greenness that collected in my mouth and on my teeth was disgusting. I had to chase it with a few rinses of water and boy was I glad I just bought a new kitchen aid blender for the task, my old pile of junk would have left spinach threads and leafy bits in there that surely would have made me hurl.

I got to bed at about 10:15 and was getting up by 4:30. I had bad dreams about that smoothie. I envisioned myself gulping it down to get through it fast after my workout on my way through the parking lot. I was walking between a couple of cars as I downed the last bit and then the taste hit me. I lost it. The whole mess came up and hit the side of this little red car about roof level on the back driver side window. It basically oozed itself down the side of the car about the whole width of the back door, and that spirulina was so green even a thin coat was enough to get a deep lovely green. I emptied my water bottle on the thing in one big swoosh but it just hit the middle and had trouble washing much off. I tried to squeegee it down with my hand but then looking at the threads of green colored stomach acids mixed up with that vile smoothie stretching from the car to my hand as I pulled it away for another swoop had me gagging and I almost choked up the few last bits. Instead of cleaning more I made it to my car, got $10 out of my wallet and wrote a little note that said I was sorry, but here’s the money for a car wash and a latte while you wait. I also added not to worry because I will never drink another green smoothie in case they thought it was something malicious.

The real test that came this morning was not nearly as exciting. I drank it and it didn’t taste nearly as bad as I was thinking. Being a bit hungry after a long workout (3600 yard swim 5.25 miles on the elliptical) makes one less finicky I guess. I will need to work on it though. My first thoughts are to use less spirulina at least until I get used to it, then try something besides spinach which tasted a bit like dirt. Lastly I think I will use nonfat milk and a banana and a sweeter fruit than those sour grapes I found.

I left my wife a bottle of the stuff too, and I told her that I had killed an alien and ground up his brains in the smoothie. I had a yellow shirt on and the powdery spirulina got all over me so it seems like the story matched what I looked like. We shall see if she drinks more than a sip. [EDIT: This just in, she hated it]

All I can really conclude is that it is wonderful to get so much nutrition from so few calories. And although I do get all my fruits and veggies in a decent percent of the time, recently anyway, this will sure make it easy to do so more often. Especially once I get myself brainwashed into thinking it tastes good.

[EDIT:Thanks to coach Brett from Zen and the Art of Triathlon for your comment. I will be looking to add more fruit for my next smoothie]

Weight Loss Secret – Fiber

May 23, 2009

A while back I made some discoveries in my diet that helped immenselyto control my appetite. Still working on applying them all the time, but at least I know about it. I will let you in on my little secret. I still have the days where I find myself in the kitchen eating item after item. It used to be getting up from the couch or whatever other sedentary non-activity I was doing. But I am now finding it happens more when I work out more. I basically use up a lot of muscle glycogen and then my body wants to replace it. No problem really as long as I eat the right foods. Therein lies the problem. Here is an excerpt from a blog I wrote a while back but did not post for some reason.

I have been struggling with the calorie counting for 11 weeks or so now. OK, struggle is not the right word, it has been very successful, but it is a battle to do better. My goal was initially to eat 1800 a day and it didn’t happen, I was still successful at 2200 calories daily but it takes longer that way to lose weight. I have been getting it down close to 2000 on average for a few weeks now. This last week I intentionally added some fiber to my diet and the meals are not only making me full, I sometimes feel stuffed. These days where it happens I am eating less than 1800 calories and I have the feeling of being stuffed! I can hardly believe it.

The discovery was that fiber keep you feeling full. And it is even better if it is the bulky stuff like a cup of carrots, as opposed to something that sounds goofy but many people do, like eating a granola bar that wasn’t all that great for you but is laced with several grams of chickory root that was dried and ground up and added to the bar. Yeah this is what a fiber one bar is, only 140 calories and 10 grams of soluable fiber. Soluable means two things, to those with even a little high school chemistry it means that it will dissolve in water. But the real way soluable fiber is classified that way is that it ferments in the gut. Thats right, you can hear it talking back later. Eat a fiber one bar in the morning and evening for a couple days if you need to win any contests.

Now it is recommended to eat several times after a hard workout at short intervals.  The first item is a liquid recovery drink followed by small meals at two hour intervals. Ideally these would be chosen for their nutritional value and they would involve fruits and vegetables and protien and even some good fats. My problem, is they are trips to the cupboard for a snack not a meal. I eat cheese crackers with a glass of milk. Then I am back later for ritz slimed with peanut butter and another glass of milk. Then that weight watchers popsicle for 140 calories calls me out. Then that wasn’t really a meal so I prepare a small sandwhich to go with it.

The thing is I am supposed to eat meals at these intervals when I work out long and hard. The last two Saturdays I did quite a bit. 1.2 mile swim, a 16 mile bike and a 3 mile run here for 1500 calories. Or a half marathon and a 1050 yard swim for 2100 calories. It takes over 2 hours and I get very hungry. I need to skip the dense caloric foods that come prepackaged for quick eating and take the time to eat more like I do during the week.

I eat breakfast during the week, then pack up a snack for the morning, lunch, and a snack for the afternoon. By the time I am out the door for work I know exactly how many calories I will have eaten before I sit down to my dinner, barring unforseen circumstances of course. Things like donuts using Jedi mind tricks to make me scoop them up off the plate when idiots bring them in to work thinking they are being nice. I usually avoid them cause they are not around, but sometimes I am weak. Who the hell needs to eat a 400-500 calorie deep fried pastry slathered with superfine ground sucrose mixed with a liquid and flavors like maple? Maybe I should cut the donut into sixths and take one bite. One 60 calorie bite that is still not worth it. Or better yet take a donut, take a bit, and toss the blasted thing in the trash. That will be what I try the next time, it gets rid of one more donut from the pile so they are gone faster, I get a little taste, and I still only eat 60 calories. I will head out like I am refilling my coffee so no one sees me and gets offended.

On Saturday I have no concept of planning. The only thing I do lately is make sure I get the recoverey drink. And then plan to eat 3 times after each of the next 2 hour periods. I shall plan all the meals the next few times. One of the items should be a soup that has lots of fiber. Another should include veggies, and another should include a piece of fruit. Here is the plan:

  1. after workout: revovery drink (Endurox R4) 270 calories
  2. 1 hour later or when hungry: 1/2 c plain yogurt, 1/2 c fruit, stevia sweetener, with added fiber (T ground flax) and 1/4 c of a crunchy cereal.  200 calories
  3. 2 hours later: 8 ritz crackers, 3 slices lunch ham, 1 slice cheese, 1/2 c baby carrots, 1/2 c raw brocolli. 300 calories
  4. 2 hours later: large bowl of lentil and sausage soup with veggies. This recipe is one of our family favorites and we use turkey sausage now. 200 calories.

Now this 1000 calorie blitzkrieg might sound like I am going overboard. But I tell you I just burned 1500 calories and only ate 1400 (breakfast of 400 plus 1000 recovery) and I am sitting at just about dinner time with a negative calorie balance for the day so far. If I am not just raving hungry I have accomplished my goal. Besides looking back over my calorie counts I notice on Saturdays I have been doing better since I started doing a recovery drink alone, so this is the easy first step to a successful workout and not eating too much later. But I still do poorly when I eat unheathy snacks by the time I get to dinner I still have big hunger cravings. Granola bars, cheese-n-crackers, cheesy-crackers sandwiches, and those darn weight watchers cookies-n-cream popsicles, and the skinny cow ice cream sandwiches are the typical things that find their weigh into my belly. (yeah I spelled it wrong on purpose).

There was one saturday where I ate 300 calories for breakfast, 200 in gel and sport drink during the 1700 calories workout (1.2 mile swim, 14 mile bike, 3.2 mile run). Then went on to have 550 calories for lunch, 600 calories in afternoon snacks, and found myself with such an urge to eat that I ate 1400 calories around what should have been dinner time in snacks that consisted of: girl scout cookies, ice cream sandwhiches,crackers n peanut butter, popcorn, and cereal. Good thing the day ended there.

 I really do think fiber, by way of eating it in naturally low calorie high bulk foods is the key to not being hungry and eating too much. I will leave you with a little more from that blog entry that never got posted where I was dicussing what I learned from eating fiber.

 I am skipping an afternoon snack here and there not because of will power but because I don’t feel hungry. I can really pack away the calories when we go out and eat for example at Red Robin Burger a couple of months ago I had the banzai burger (1000 calories) with steak fries (hundreds more) and then a tase of the kid’s milkshakes and birthday sunday for a total of 1500 calories in one meal. Granted I was full, and a little uncomfortable, but it is the same feeling I had the other evening when I ate about 600 calories of lentil and sausage soup which had about 18-20 grams of fiber in the one serving (lentils are amazing). And get this, less than half of the calories came from the soup, the crackers and milk were more calories. I did not even consider a late night snack and ended the day on 1760 calories stuffed and wanting no more. Every other time I ate 1760 calories or less (11 times about once a week) the following day I ate (2145, 2420, 2320, 2460, 2570, 2000, 2620, 2260, 1935, 2165, 1950) which is an average of 2260 and this time I ate 1920 the lowest followed by another day that was better than my goal of 2000. (It is cool to have the spreadsheet of data for comparisons like this.) And this second day the heaviest workout day of my workouts at 2300 yards swam in 64 minutes and 4.7 miles run in 44 and a half minutes. That is 1380 calories burned and still I sit here without hunger writing this, full for the day on 1850 calories. This fiber stuff is magic I tell you.