Monday, August 22, 2011

Healthy Eating

Long time no post I realise - it's most probably because I'm a bad person. Moving on...

I have become a fitness fanatic, and with that have started to look more closely at my diet as a whole, rather than focussing on individual meals.

You know by now that opinions are like assholes (everyone has one), and diet plans are exactly the same. The thing is that that's how it should be - everyone has a different body/ metabolism/ health/ weight/ BMI, everyone does different quantity/ quality/ types of exercise, we've got different budgets, different toxins that we allow into our lives, different time allowances. In essence, we're all different, so of course our eating plans should be different.

This is my version ...

Start with exercise. In an ideal world I would truly love to work out 12 times a week. Divide that into 4 types of exercise, 3 times a week each.

Type 1 is cardio - in my opinion this is the be all and end all of weight-loss, but my weight is fine, so for me its all about endurance. In my case it means running - 1 long run on Saturday mornings 10ish km right now, but this flows up and down depending on whether I've got a race coming up, so it should ease up to about 25km by the year end, and up to about 40km or 50km before the Marathon next June. 1 easy run, about 8km. 1 run that's either a 5km temp run or 5km intervals. Note that although the focus right now is on running, and is likely to stay that way until at least after the marathon next year, I fully intend to broaden the scope of my cardio work after that. Other cardio options available outside of the gym are cycling (road or mountain bike), kayaking (probably a surfski is best for me), or swimming (open water swimming seeing as I live on an awesome tropical island). When I do get round to another cario type, I'll probably focus on it pretty exclusively for a period and try get into a race or two in that discipline.

Type 2 is strength. The problem with being a distance runner is that you end up being an endurance skeleton. I don't want that. Rather, I'd really like a general, rounded fitness, all be it one that includes running as its (current) focus. So 2 or 3 workouts a week are strength training. Been doing this for about 2 months and its going pretty well. Got to say that vanity is a big reason to be doing strength training - I try to explain it away to better fitness, but you and I both know better. One validation I've got though, is that stronger legs and being stronger generally should speed up my running, but I haven't really seen great improvements in my running time.

Type 3 is flexibility / balance. No I don't do anything, which is bad. The absolute minimum is where I'm at right now, which is stretching my legs for 5 minutes when I get back from a run. In a prefect world I'd rather be spending a workout on yoga, or tai chi or some such after my runs. They tell me that flexibility is key to avoiding injury. I'll get the one day.

Type 4 is power / speed. No I don't do anything here either, yet. My theory is that its really sad I never get to sprint flat out, or hit a ball as hard as I can, or some such. In my perfect world I'd have 3 workouts a week which were either sprinting intervals, or some high-intensity sport like squash or rugby.

What that gives me is a normal day where I workout early in the morning and early in the evening, so my Meal Plan go something like this:

Wake up (say 4:45AM) Carb and protein snack, easily digestible, plus a freshly made fruit juice.

                    Morning Workout (6 - 7AM)

Breakfast (7:20AM) Simple carbs and protein to recover from the workout, plus complex carbs to give energy for the day.

Morning Snack (10AM)

Lunch (12:30)

Afternoon Snack (3:30PM)  Fuelling for afternoon workout.

                    Afternoon Workout (5 - 6PM)

Dinner (6:30PM) Some carbs for workout recovery, but not much carbs for sleeping.

Late Snack because I have a chocolate addiction.

The goal is balance and variety with a few small rules:

Sugar should be minimized. Its fine (even good) straight after a workout, but only then. So leave the cupcakes for binging on when I come in from my run (unless you're trying to lose weight, then you should count those calories). The aim is to keep my blood sugar levels pretty steady to avoid fatigue crashes through the day.

Generally things should be low-ish fat. Saturated fat (i.e. from animals or dairy) should be kept to an absolute minimum because its bad for your cholesterol, and un-saturated fat is good for you, but is still high in calories, so some fat is important, but if you want to lose weight then keep it to the minimum.

Eat as much fruit and veggies as you can.

Carbs should be complex whenever possible. Find a good wholewheat bread that you like and eat that every day. I've just found a really nice one as my local supermarket.

And that's about it.

I close with this philosophy to eating which I think came Anthony Bordain:
"Eat real food; Not too much; Eat mostly plants"
That's really what it boils down to.

Okay, cheerio.

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