In Part 1 I talked about what I think my ideal weight is for a 100 mile race: 78-80kg. I say “ideal” and not “goal” or “target” because my weight isn’t my focus here. It’s simply about getting my body into the best shape to conquer the task at hand.
Here I’m going to look at what I’m eating day to day to see whether I’m eating enough of the right sort of food to support my training now and in the future. Keeping a food diary can be time-consuming and can put, in my view, and unhealthy focus on food. But there’s no doubt that checking in periodically on what you are eating and how much builds awareness for the periods in between.
How much should I be eating?
Well for this experiment I’m using MyFitnessPal to track my food and drink. I’m sure there are other apps out there but this one is easy to use and has an extensive repository of nutritional information. Plus you can scan barcodes (for processed food) which makes tracking even easier.
According to my height, weight, activity level and desire to maintain my weight (not lose / gain it), I should be eating 2,930 calories per day made up of 147g protein, 336g carbohydrates, and 98g fat.
How much am I actually eating?
Well when I factor in all of my calories consumed and burned, this past week I had a slight calorie deficit most days. There is, of course, a big caveat here that my calories consumed were not 100% accurate – I didn’t weigh absolutely everything accurately, but having tracked food before I have a good idea of rough amounts. Plus, having weighed myself this morning I am exactly the same weight I was 11 days ago so I think it’s fair to say I’m getting the balance roughly right in terms of calories in / out – whether they are the “right” calories is another matter!
What did I learn this week?
- I’m drinking alcohol every day during lockdown: Admittedly I’m not drinking a lot (usually one strong G&T) but even so that is unusual for me.
- I’m eating cake twice a day: now while I don’t usually drink much alcohol I have always had a sweet tooth. During lockdown we’re experimenting with new recipes and there is always cake in the house and it’s hard to resist.
- I often have big snacks in the evening: I have rediscovered my love of Greek yoghurt and I have big bowls of it after dinner, with cereal and fruit… okay, sometimes with cake too. These bowls can be 600-700 calories about 90 minutes after I’ve had my dinner.
- Curries are ridiculously calorific when you add up the accompaniments: I mean, we eat home-cooked curries so we know exactly what goes into them and they’re full of vegetables. However, when I added in a paratha, a bit of rice, and generous portions of chutneys my “healthy” curry came to 1,400 calories. That’s half my suggested calorie intake.
- The “best” meal I have each day is porridge: I judge that on how many calories (600-700) and how long it keeps me full for (sometimes 4 hours).
All that said, given my weight has stayed stable during the period I won’t fret too much.
What am I going to do differently?
Well the main thing I want to get a handle on is my snacking and, in particularly, the amount of sugar I’m consuming. I’ve got lots of tricks up my sleeve with proven success, but being in lockdown, with the additional stresses that brings, will put them to the test.
In order of effectiveness:
- Eat extra strong mints during the day / after dinner – mint really does deter me from wanting to eat.
- Have savoury snacks in the house (e.g. hummus) instead of always having something sweet
- Drink green tea
- Snack on fruit (without Greek yoghurt!) during the day
- Have a large glass of water before eating
- Breathing exercises
- Use exercise as a distraction (e.g. hold a plank, do a few pull-ups or squats)