Racing weight: The (re)balancing act

My recent post about weight, diet, and running was not written on a whim. It was serious. My colleague just asked me if I want a Double Decker chocolate bar from the shop and I said no. That, my friends, is progress. Here’s an update:

Step one of pursuing a healthier running weight requires assessment of my current eating habits. It’s important that I be completely honest about what I eat, when I eat, and why I make my food choices. I have therefore been keeping a food diary, a completely honest, warts and all account of what passes my lips. Every cup of tea, every Jaffa Cake, every piece of toast, every knob of butter…

It’s been a really interesting couple of weeks. I know that I have been eating more consciously since keeping this food log, and so it’s not a totally accurate picture of what I would normally eat, but I have been eating more or less the same kinds of food, changing very little during the first week. I have been using the Training Peaks website to store this information and this jazzy site has some tools that can gives me an overview of my diet and a clear picture of how my diet is balanced. Rather worryingly my daily fat intake is around 30%, coupled with 55% carbohydrate and 15% protein. It’s not dangerous, but for a runner it’s not great.

I’ve decided that my first step towards a better diet is going to be readdressing this balance. After reading Matt Fitzgerald’s ‘Racing Weight’ and learning about how different diet balances affect our bodies I’ve decided to aim for: 60% carbohydrate; 25% fat; 15% protien. Why? Because I am currently eating 30% fat and have 30% body fat. Coincidence? I think not. There is no scientific evidence to back this up, but regardless I have decided that if I’m aiming for 25% body fat I should only eat 25% fat in my diet.*

How I strike this new balance is proving a little trickier than I had expected though. I spent the second week of my diet log eating less fat, and while my weekly fat intake lowered marginally from 29% to 27%, the biggest effect it seemed to have on my overall diet was that my calorie intake dipped from 2100 calories to 1800. That was not what I intended. I’m not trying to cut calories. It seems that eliminating bad food alone does not help to rebalance my diet. It just means I eat less, period. A better balanced diet involves eating less bad food, but also eating more good food. This nutrition stuff is hard. There’s a reason people spend years learning about it!

Step one in my pursuit of a better racing weight therefore will be tackling my fat consumption through small aims and changes. These are:

  • Reduce my weekly fat intake to 25% of my total diet.
  • Where possible, avoid food if the fat content is more than 1/3 saturated fat (that’s the bad fat. Or the misunderstood fat, depending on who’s advice you read).
  • 3-4 meat free days a week. If done properly, vegetarian and vegan diets are incredibly healthy and low in fat. A veggie-oriented diet will force me to eat more of the good stuff.

Have you ever tried to reduce your fat consumption? Do you have any advice? Or more importantly, any recipes?!

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3 responses to “Racing weight: The (re)balancing act

  1. I was just going to say, as I read this: if you switch to vegan, the fat count will immediately drop in favour of carbs. And if you then choose the carbs wisely (whole, complex) I think you’ll notice a lot of difference. Mind you, I never run more than 5k, but even I notice the difference between running on plants and running on cheese. Whether or not you decide to give it a go, I look forward to reading about your progress.

    • Yes, I’m almost certain that a shift towards less meat will help. I was vegan until a few years ago and so I know how healthy it can be (I was advised reintroducing meat would help control my IBS symptoms). However I also know how easy it can be to be an unhealthy vegan! I’m honestly looking forward to less meat and trying not to make the same mistakes as before. Thanks so much for the encouragement!

  2. Pingback: Racing Weight: The fat fight continued… « Red Head On The Run·

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