Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I've been pondering this post for a while now. It seems I have found a combination of food that promotes running energy and aids weight loss, which is the right combination for me right now. And when I've found something that works, I want to put it out there for public scrutiny. So please comment and tell me where I went wrong or right. And if you can get a few new ideas or perspectives, that's great!

First, the boring stuff. I did my 3 mile run yesterday outside from the house and boy it was cold. I mean nipple freezing cold, lungs itching cold, holy crap I need to get some warmer running gear cold. I didn't time the run, but I did pretty well. It was just a recovery run, so I didn't push it too hard. Knees and ankles feel ok, feet are ok, but those hills around the house just shred my shins. I need to get back to the chiropractor soon. and one day I'll post the story of why I love my chiropractor soooo much.

Today is cross training day, which usually means a bike ride to the gym and back for some weights. Since it's only 45 degress outside today, I'm seriously thinking about driving. Then tomorrow is a 5 mile tempo run.

My food strategy is a big mash up of other plans. Wifey is a lifetime member on Weight Watchers, and she does most of the cooking. So I get tons of WeWa healthy food. I love Men's Health magazine, and after the Greeville Sprint tri I started their Abs Diet, which centers around 12 Power Foods. But neither of those focus on runner's caloric demands, so I had to find some runner's fuel sources and learn a lot about muscular endurance and how the body handles running. I swear I could have been a doctor if I hadn't gone into the IT world, and I am a research junkie. There was even a time when I was basically a Reproductive Endocrinologist without a medical degree, but that's another post for another day. But that whole process made me learn how the body works and all operational aspects of muscles and now endurance.

WeWa is basically low fat high fiber. Fiber acts like a toothbrush for your large intestines/colon. So all of these body cleansers/home colonics/bacteria cleaning plans can actually be outdone by some fiber in your diet every day. Here's Wifey's daily breakfast and why it works. I use it as a mid-morning snack sometimes:
  • 1/2 cup Fiber One cereal
  • 1 cup Dannon Lite Vanilla Yogurt
  • 1 cup Cherios
  • 2 Tbls ground Flaxseed

The Fiber One is your colon toothbrush, Cherios and flaxseed are great cholesterol fighters, and the Yogurt instead of milk adds active cultures/bacteria and tons of great protein. So it's only 2 WeWa points and has tons of good whole carbs for runner's fuel.

The Abs Diet is based around 12 Power Foods that are supposed to provide enough carbs for energy and protein to build muscle. Big weightlifters & bodybuilders eat as much as 1 gram of protein per lb of body weight daily. This means I used to eat 6 eggs and 4 chicken breasts every day, plus 2 turkey sandwiches.... I used to be really into heavy weighlifting, so I packed on this many pounds on purpose. More on that later. To get six pack abs in six weeks, you have to combine at least 2 power foods in each of 6 meals a day. Some of their power foods are high in fat (like almonds and peanut butter) and not WeWa compatible. They also actively push whey protein powder (a synthetic) which I won't use anymore.

As an aside, it's worth noting that when I was into heavy weighlifting I took creatine and whey protein powders twice a day on all lifting days. These made me fart like you wouldn't believe. I mean I could really clear the room. Wifey was not exactly "on board" with me taking those things. But they did get the job done. The muscles were stoked for growth and strength building.

I did the Abs Diet for 6 weeks, lost 2 lbs and 2 inches from my waist. So no 6 pack abs, but it was nice to have the pants fit again. They push weighlifting as a calorie burn medium instead of cardio so I knew I would have to adapt it for runner's fuel. So I've found some of my own runner's power foods.

  • 1/2 cup Oatmeal (power food)
  • 1/2 cup Milk (power food)
  • 1/2 cup Water (power food)
  • a handful of rasins
  • 1 whole bannana cut up
  • 1 Tbls brown sugar

This has become my breakfast every day (thanks again Caitlin). When I changed from a big ol' Jethro bowl of cold cereal (~500 calories) to this oatmeal mix (~180 calories and tons of fiber) is when I finally broke through the 200 lbs barrier a couple of weeks ago. The oats have good whole carbs and is a main source of glycogen replenishment for muscle development. Milk is a key source for low calorie protien (fat free skim milk of course), and the rasins/bannana give me great fiber scrubbing power and good whole carbs too. You really can't eat too many natural fruits, I think. The brown sugar is in there just for flavor and some carbs. Recent studies have shown that there's no difference (health-wise) between brown sugar and plain white sugar. But the brown sugar just doesn't taste quite as sweet to me.

So the basic outline is to eat six smaller meals a day, supplement when necessary and use whole foods (not bars or shakes) for each of your six meals. Try to incorporate some power foods into each meal, and be sure to have some runners fuel OR fiber in there too. It's tough to get both runners fuel and fiber in the same dish.

So after that great breakfast I typically snack (meal #2) sometime between 9 am and 11 am, or about an hour before that day's workout. Sometimes I'll have Wifey's breakfast meal for a snack, I've also been really into these:

  • 3 Whole graham crackers broken up into 12 pieces
  • spread Peanut Butter on each piece
  • sprinkle the whole thing with rasins

Peanut butter is a Power Food, just don't get the Jif crap. Go all natural or organic, as regular Jif is full of HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) and partially hydrogenated oils. But PB has a beneficial fat, tons of good carbs for runner's fuel, the graham crackers are low calorie and full of good carbs, and rasins have tons of fiber. Use celery instead of graham crackers (called Ants on a Log) for more fiber less carbs if you want. This is also great Kid's fuel. My girls love it for breakfast.

I work out mid morning, and the harder workouts (5 miles or more, or weight lifting workouts) are usually followed by a protein bar. I don't count this as a meal or snack because the protein/calories are being absorbed within 10 mins of consumption for muscle recovery, and I am usually hungry for lunch by the time I get home from the gym.

Low fat is the key for lunch, I think. I love a turkey sandwich on whole wheat with mustard, texas pete (yes, I'll put hot sauce on anything), dill, and 2% milkfat american cheese. Turkey is a power food for the low fat, low sodium, high protein content. And the lowfat cheese and good carbs in the bread are also very beneficial. Add a side of Baked Lay's potato chips and the whole thing is only about 400 calories, low fat, high protein. Great diet food.

I'm also really into omlette's. Mix 3 eggs with some milk, texas pete, salt, pepper, dill and put into a hot pan. Top it with 2 slices of turkey, lowfat shredded cheese, and spinach (and maybe basil if I've got some in the garden). Slide it off of the pan onto a plate and fold in half, top with more cheese. Add a side of whole wheat toast and that's a great lunch. High protein, about 200 calories, low fat. Power Foods are spinach, ww toast, turkey and eggs. But there's not a lot of runner's fuel in there.

I tend to eat the afternoon snack at my desk while I'm writing code. All afternoon. So my surprise power food is pretzel sticks. Yes, pretzel sticks. I also love baby carrots. I've been known to eat almost a pound of carrots at a time, and I like to eat a few carrots then some almonds. I ran out of almonds and switched to pretzels about the time I switched my breakfast to the oatmeal. And that's when the pounds really started falling off.

So for about 3 hours every day I keep a small pile of pretzels on my desk and between lines of code I'll grab a carrot. Every 2 or 3 carrots I'll throw in a few pretzels. The combination of salty and sweet is unreal. The carrots are high fiber & have almost no calories. The pretzels have tons of good carbs and are great runners fuel. WeWa lets you eat all of the raw veg you can stuff down, so I don't limit my carrot intake. The combo ends up being about 200 calories for 3 hours worth of food. wow. And sometimes, I'm so full I end up eating a smaller dinner as a result. Since I work out in the mornings, the carbs go directly into my now depleted glycogen stores. You couldn't design a synthetic supplement to perform any better than that.

Wifey cook's dinner, we eat vegetarian at least one night a week. It's usually 7 WeWa points or less, and I've got so many recipes I can't post them all here. Last night it was meatball subs and onion rings. 5 points. yea, that is amazing. Email me if you want the recipe, I'll have to get Wifey to write it down.

Finally after we get the kids to bed we both have a snack. She likes lowfat popcorn, I usually go back to my jethro bowl (just freakin huge) of cold cereal. Not all cereals are bad. I like cherios, corn flakes, special k, which are all low calorie and good carbs. I admit I still blow the portion size here. But sleeping with carbs on your stomach will fuel the muscles for the next day's workout, and I usually need to get another serving of milk in.

Final Thoughts:

The basic plan is low fat high fiber high/good carbs. Get at least 3 half cup servings of milk every day, more is better. Get some power foods at each meal. Be sure to get plenty of runners fuel the day before a workout (any workout) and the afternoon after a workout. Which really means plenty of runners fuel every day. Stay all natural or organic wherever you can. No HFCS or partially hydrogenated oils. ever. Get some protein within 10 mins of finishing your workout, I take the bar before getting a shower. I also drink at least 12 glasses of water a day. And Jethro is a reference to the Beverly Hillbillies.

Final power food:

Gummy worms. Yep. 12 gummy worms (Publix brand) is only 1 WeWa point. They are addictive, and will satisfy any sweet tooth if you like the texture. I love the texture.

So that's how I fuel. I've been making good speed and endurance gains on my runs, and losing weight like crazy on this plan. And I love it. I'm never hungry. Hunger means there is a caloric imbalance (you need some) which leads to a swing in the other direction (eat too much). So by eating when you aren't hungry, you stay much more balanced. I loved the Abs Diet for men, there's also an Abs Diet for Women if you are intersted, pick up a copy. It gives a very solid explanation of how active people process food.

I also want to throw out there that the office wants me in Atlanta next tuesday and wednesday. Stu at the office is also my long distance swimming coach, so we're going to get in the pool. But if any of you ATL folks want to get together for lunch, drinks after work, or other horseplay like a workout, please let me know. I'd love to meet up with anyone, and it's only the second time in 15 months of employment there that I've had to spend the night in atlanta. So it's a rare thing that I have after work time to meet up. See you soon!


Girl on Top said...

I like the six meals and everything looks good. For me, I just listen to my body and when I'm hungry I eat more and when I'm not, I just don't eat. Harder said than done since I have my share of "eat everything in front me" times, but it's worked for me :)

As for working out, wanna run with with me on Wednesday morning? It'll be early, but that's the best time for me and since you probably have to work after that. Otherwise let me know what times are good for you and we'll see if we can squeeze a workout in somewhere!

Marcy said...

Sounds good to me! But I'm also not the healthiest eater int he world HAHA If it works for you, then stick to it! ;-)

Sarah said...

Peanut butter and gummy worms. Those were the key words. Side note - totally know Bob Jones. Those folks were crazy - even to me back in my conservative days :)

ThickChick said...

Peanut butter is all the proof I need that some sort of God is out there, and he/she/it loves us.