In the past couple weeks I’ve had a fair amount of people ask me about my diet going into my last big Kona training block and Ironman training in general. So I figured I would share a bit with you about my diet.
Before I begin I want to preface a few very important things; 1) I am not a certified nutritionist and/or dietitian and 2) my diet works for me it does not mean that it works for everyone.
Over the years I have tried everything when it comes to fueling your body including the wrong ends of the spectrum. One of the most important pieces of my nutrition and learning to fuel my body properly did not actually come from the food that I put into my mouth but rather from learning to love my body for the power and strength that it puts out and not for how I look. This was not an easy task and really only came to me a couple of years ago after a long climb out of an eating disorder, aneroexia to be exact. My sophomore year in college my brain and body succumbed to a lot of stress and pressure that I had put on myself resulting in the need to be perfect, no one is perfect, but I sure thought that I had to be including in what I ate.
My recovery from this was a roller coaster of not only learning what made me healthy food wise but more importantly learning to love my body and respecting the strength that it has; fueling for the strength rather than for what I think the world wants me to look like. I am stressing this because as mentioned everyone’s body is a little bit different and everyone requires a little something different in order to tap into that power, you have to find what it is that works for you. For example; my body does not do well on heavy carbs such as pizza or pasta, I am sluggish and fluffy afterwards, where as my husband can eat a big meal of either, wake up feeling leaner and as though he could lift all the weight in the world the next day. You must find what makes you feel strong and never let that little piece of you go.
When it comes to nutrition and fueling your body I am a firm believer in moderation. It is a short life and you need to enjoy it, that includes having the drink when you want it and eating the pizza when you want – in moderation that is. Now I was a lot more strict in the last big training block moving into Kona, I basically cut out all desserts, foods I knew that made my body sluggish, and greatly reduced my alcohol consumption, even cut it out completely the last couple weeks.
Over the last two to three years I have really focused on becoming more of a fat adapted athlete. Our bodies have four energy stores – three that we mainly use, Carbohydrates (glycogen), Fats, and Protein. We grow up learning that Carbohydrates are your main source of fuel and/or energy and while that is true you can see below in the chart that I posted it is not the biggest source of fuel. Our bodies contain a lot of fat and healthy fat that can be used for energy.
With most traditional diets a person’s body goes to its glycogen stores for fuel first, when it runs out of that you then go to your muscle protein skipping over the fat that your body naturally has stored. By increasing your fat intake and decreasing your carb intake you train your body to turn to fat as its main energy source immediately giving your body an extra energy source during long endurance events.
I will not go into crazy detail behind the science of a fat adapted diet, because again I am not a registered dietitian, but I can tell you it has worked wonders for me. I am someone who always struggled figuring out what types of foods and/or nutrition to get in during a long workout, ride, and/or race as I had a hard time putting real food into my system due to a sensitive stomach. By working towards being more of a fat adapted athlete I have been able to basically cut the need for real food to zero and get by on my nutrition in my water bottles.
While I do maintain that I function better as more of a fat/protein adapted athlete I am also one of those who does everything in moderation. A strict fat adapted athlete would eat very few carbohydrates, I still like carbs, I eat them in moderation, and I do get them mostly from foods such as veggies, oats, and fruits.
I am not sure about the rest of you but I personally am a visual learner/example follower, I like to read examples of what other people have done and then work to make it fit for myself. So on that note I want to share with you what my eating schedule looks like, what a shopping list would look like, and a list of some of the items I eat for each meal of my day.
Here is what a fairly standard eating schedule looks like for myself:
6:30-7:30 am – Coffee to wake up
7:30 – 8:30 am – breakfast
10:00 am – pre lunch snack
12:00 pm – Lunch
1:30 pm – very small snack
2:30-3:30 pm – pre workout meal
6:30-7:30 pm – dinner
8:30 pm – pre – bed protein shake
Standard Shopping List for a week:
Pesto or some sort of pasta sauce (low sodium)
Yellow Squash and/or butternut squash
Depending on the season some sort of fruit – I really like apples
Peanut Butter and/or almond butter
Here is a break down of options that I may eat for each meal:
1 cup Oatmeal with protein powder, almonds, dried fruit, and peanut butter
Bagel with cream cheese, avocado, one hard boiled egg
Hard boiled eggs (I really like egg salad)
half of an avocado, with a little salt
Anything with hummus 🙂
Some sort of protein (usually 4-6 oz) with greens, or brocolini, or some sort of squash noodles
Sandwich – who doesn’t love sandwiches 🙂
Pre workout snack
Protein muffins (I have an amazing recipe that was shared with me for these)
Some sort of protein (steak, salmon, shrimp, etc) with greens, or brocolini, or squash noodles
We also eat a lot of rice for either dinner or lunch with our protein.
Bedtime protein shake
Infinite nocturne – this is a recovery protein shake.
The last piece I wanted to share with you is my nutrition on race day.
For this I am merely going to lay out each piece, similar to how I did above with my standard eating day.
Race day Breakfast
my standard breakfast of either oatmeal or a bagel.
Drink Jet Fuel from Infinit – this is around 230 calories, electrolytes, and caffine
Immediately out of the water and once I am on the bike I get calories in. This is the one time I get real food into my system. My favorite food to use is Cliff Organic Energy Fuel.
On the Bike
I drink 2-3 bottles each containing a mixture of my Road to Kona Infinit Mix and some Gatorade. The addition of Gatorade is merely because I love the taste of Gatorade and often find myself craving a Gatorade, especially on a hot long day, but Gatorade wasn’t enough to get me through a ride without needing real food.
One of the things I love about Infinit is the ability to customize the formula to fit yourself. I found that by increasing the protein content I was feeling more satiated, full, and wasn’t starving at the end of a workout/ride when I would begin the run.
I have a hard time drinking anything beside water on a run, except for at Kona in which I forced myself to drink everything. That being said I make sure to drink water at every single aid station and I supplement with Gatorade when I need it and some sort of GU or chew such as Honey Stingers.
That is my race in a nutshell.
I hope that you all found this helpful and/or interesting. Diet is a tricky one to share because as I mentioned it is different for everyone, if you have questions please do not hesitate to ask! My best advice to work towards finding what works for you and most importantly enjoy the food you are eating. Food is fuel and your body needs fuel in order to do the amazing things you have planned for it.