Wow, it has been quite a while since I wrote my last blog post! A lot has changed since then, including my eating habits. Everything was great for a while, but then I went through a period where my athletic performance was suffering. No matter what I did, I just couldn’t break PR’s or improve my muscle tone. The Type A personality in me did not appreciate this, so I controlled what I ate even more in hopes that with just a little more self control and a little less cake, things would go back to normal. They didn’t. Instead, my body suffered. I was exhausted all the time, experienced intense bouts of anger, had poor sleep quality, craved every sugar-laden pastry that crossed my path, lost muscle, experienced disturbing changes in my cycle, and had an uptick in my anxiety levels. What in the world was wrong with me??
I called a nutritionist, and what we found was that I was eating far too few carbs and essentially needed to eat a whole lot more of them. She gave me a customized nutrition plan to follow and told me to call her in two weeks. She told me I would eventually gain about 15 lbs, but it would be all muscle.
This plan is so vastly different from what I had been eating! I now eat protein every few hours, 1.5 to 2 servings of healthy starches at each meal (sweet potatoes, whole wheat bread, quinoa, barley, oats, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, etc.), as many veggies as I can manage, and a couple servings of fruit each day. This changed everything. I started lifting more weight, my bike rides got longer, my long distance swims got faster, and my runs became easier. I have energy to spare and no longer struggle with waking up at 5am for swim practice. I have gained 10 lbs so far, and from what I can tell, it is all muscle. I live in a different body than I did 2 months ago. My massage therapist even commented on my ever-evolving obliques. And I’m pretty proud of my little bicep bulge, too.
Long story short, I gave up trying to eat low-carb. There are some serious heath benefits in the short term, but long term, it is unsustainable and frankly even dangerous. Now, I’m not eating bagels and cookies each day; my carb choices are mostly healthy. But I am eating a lot of good carbs in order to give my body the fuel it needs to maintain my lifestyle.
I found an excellent article that outlines some of the drawbacks of this low-carb fad our culture is currently buying into. It even discusses some positives but also notes how difficult it is to maintain.
Just to give you an idea of what my food intake looks like now, I have outlined what I eat in a typical day below:
Post-workout: 1 protein shake
Breakfast: 2 whole wheat pancakes and an egg, coffee with milk
Snack: Apple with 1T natural nut butter
Lunch: 3.5 oz chicken, a large sweet potato, and 2 to 3 cups of veggies
Snack: protein shake
Snack: 2 cups raw veggies with 2T humus, 3/4 C plain low-fat Greek yogurt topped with 1C strawberries
Dinner: 1.5C whole wheat pasta topped with 1.5C turkey meat sauce and 3-4 or more cups of salad.
Snack (if needed): 2 cups popcorn OR hot chocolate with milk and stevia OR more veggies OR a slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter, etc.
The best part of this is that I am usually not hungry! It is a lot of food, but I need it for my workouts. On race days or 2-hour plus workout days, I need even more and essentially add a meal. Comment or shoot me a message if you have any questions. A week of workouts will be coming soon. Thanks for reading! Eat well, eat often, and enjoy every bite.