So last night Jen sent my to Hy-Vee to pick up the groceries for the week. I think this book doubled the amount of time I spent looking through various items that I pondered buying. It has definitely opened my eyes to what I am putting in my body. If I want to perform at an elite level it is imperitive that I get to my peak performance weight. Early in the book author Matt Fitzgerald gives some ways to identify what that magic number is. I'm probably going by his least scientific suggestion which is to go off a weight I've previously been at. The lowest weight I got to last year was 153 and I knew I had somewhere between 3 and 7 lbs. more to lose so I'm going with a goal weight of 150 by Ironman St. George on May 7. Monday was my first official weigh in. I weigh in weekly which is also recommended in the book. This is something I've always done during training season. Fitzgerald even notes a study result that ties frequency to weighing in to weight loss probably because it makes people more conscious of what they are putting into their bodies on a more regular basis. My first weigh in was 171. That is 3 lbs. more than I began last year but it is also 2 weeks earlier and I missed about a month of running last winter due to my achilles being sore. As I made my way through the grocery store I thought about some of the things the book said. I paid close attention to the carbohydrate food I've been eating. Fitzgerald highly recommends 100% whole grain over anything that is processed. That meant the honey wheat bagels I always thought were great for me would be out in favor of a 100% whole grain bagel. I like the taste of things that are 100% whole grain so that was no big deal. I also noticed the pasta I was buying was not 100% whole grain so I switched that as well. It is true you pay a little more for the good stuff. Hy-Vee uses a NuVal scoring system that Fitzgerald mentions in his book as one way to purchase foods with a high nutritional value. They rate everything from 1 to 99 based on the nutritional value. I was moving the sale tags out of the way to see NuVal scores. I noticed that fresh veggies and fruit were about double the canned stuff, most likely because the veggies and fruit in cans contain unhealthy preservatives. The canned stuff is not bad for you, it's just not as healthy as anything you can get fresh. Here are some other things I got from the book this week...
1. When you eat is as important as what you eat. The more often you eat the faster your body learns to burn through calories. If your body thinks it will not eat for 5 or 6 hours it will begin to conserve the food and burn through it at a slower rate. What I've been doing is eating about every 90 minutes to 2 hours this week. The key here is that you can't eat a lot with each meal. I pack a bag of things for school and make sure I eat something pretty consistently to keep my metabolism high.
2. Average body fat% in male professional triathletes are 6-10% range. I was at 12% last year. One of my goals for this year is to get my body fat % to 9 or less.
3. Body fat is insulation so endurance athletes carrying less of it can go faster without overheating. I noticed this last year when I was 153. I've always had an ungodly high sweat rate. I noticed my sweat rate declined big time as I carried less rate. This time of year even with our basement really cold I lose about 1 lb. of sweat in a 30 minute ride on the trainer. That should go down as I get more fit.
4. Of the three types of calories people consume (protein, fat, and carbohydrates) the most filling is protein. It takes the body more time to digest protein so it is the one that keeps the body full the longest. Protein is also the one that the body has to work the hardest to break down thus increasing the metabolic rate (how fast your body burns calories at rest). Fitzgerald recommends adding a whey protein supplement to the diet as a way of getting to peak race weight. I began using whey protein almost two years ago. I was about 6 weeks into this journey of training every day for triathlons and I was not recovering well. I began taking a whey protein supplement after hard workouts and most mornings for breakfast and I noticed a huge difference in how quickly I could recover. I have found a product online that is 5 lbs. for 29.95. If you're intested in what that is send me an e-mail and I'd be happy to send you the website I order from. It tastes good in water or milk which is good because if I'm going to be doing a hard workout I will take a water bottle with just the protein powder and mix water with it after the workout. All studies done on protein consumption agree that the quicker it is ingested after a workout the more benefit to recovery you will get. Most suggest a "1 hour window of opportunity". I try to get the protein in within 10 minutes if it is a hard workout or race. I've noticed I can recover from a very hard effort and feel great the next day. I don't use protein every day but if I'm doing something hard I try to get it in right away afterwards.
5. Cutting calories is not the best way for an endurance athlete to lose weight. Mainstream America thinks that the best way to "diet" is to eat less. This is rarely successful over the long haul. It may help to lose weight but when you cut calories you also slow the bodies metabolic rate and you eventually burn the amount of calories you are putting in. Inevitably you will slow metabolsim so much that you eventually return to the starting weight. For anyone who exercises a lot this can lead to disaster because you can deplete your body of the calories needed for workouts. Calorie restriction sends the message to your body to conserve calories because there may not be enough left for exercise. When your body knows it is going to get plenty of calories it continues to burn through them quickly. I also know that one of the best benefits from strength training is that you will add lean muscle. Adding muscle increases the metabolic rate and contributes to losing weight even when you are sleeping, sitting on the couch watching the Hawkeyes, or reading this blog. Muscle burns 25 times more calories at rest than fat does. It is why I highly recommend strength training to people who want to lose weight. I always tell them they may gain a couple pounds of muscle early on but they should not be worried. That new muscle will soon be helping them lose weight.
This one has gotten long enough. I'll continue posting mid-week to give updates as to how I'm progressing on getting to race weight and also what else I've learned from this book. I knew I wanted to begin reading this just before I started training for the year because it would help motivate me and give me some new information on how I can get lean for Ironman St. George. I know with the hilly bike ride and run on that course it will be one of the biggest factors as to how fast I can race. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!