This low-fat diet has been tricky to figure out!
The intial goals set out in my previous diet update were to reduce my fat consumption, reduce my saturated fat consumption, and eat less meat. The first has been tricky, but overall I am eating less fat, making better food choices, and even better, I am getting the hang of it. Reducing my sat fat has been surprisingly easy in some respects – I’ve switched butter brand, have become the annoying shopper inspecting food labels, and I am cooking more food from scratch – but, as with reducing my overall fat consumption, I have a lot of habits to break and new habits to make. I can however confirm that I am acheiving my third goal and eating substantially less meat.
I’ve had some really good days when my food ratio is bang on (25% fat, 60% carb, 15% protein), only to later realise that my calorie intake dropped as I tried to control fat consumption (1300 calories a day was a worryingly regular occurance). But then there are other days when my calories reach an acceptable 2000 but my fat intake shoots back up to 30 or even 40% (though that 40% did include a very enjoyable Cadbury’s Twirl). It’s getting better though. I have had some very good days and over the last two weeks I seem to have been getting it more consistently right.
I decided at the beginning of this diet experiment that I didn’t want to follow an eating plan. Instead I opted for a brutally honest food diary on the Training Peaks website and have have studied each days’ intake in detail. I’m noticing my bad habits, and I’m noticing my good ones. I’m piecing together the good components, and I’m teasing out the bad ones. I’m seeing high fat foods in the context of a whole day’s eating and sometimes eating them, sometimes not. I’m measuring foods from time to time, just to check my portions are not out of control (though my flatmate caught me weighing my frozen chips and thought it was a bit weird), and eating meat just a couple of times a week (which means I can totally justify the expensive steak).
For the first couple of weeks I was trying to cut fat out of everything, but my calories dipped and it wasn’t a sustainable option. Over the last two weeks I have instead been trying to think about my diet more holistically, considering each meal in the context of my entire day’s intake and timing it to fuel me through my planned activites. My lunch has become more carby, and my dinners have contained more whole fats, such as cheese or cream, but as part of a whole day’s diet it seems to be working. My food during the day is filling me up and fuelling me during workouts, and my well planned dinners with more digestable fats are allowing my IBS symptoms to ease dramatically. I am no longer bloated, sudden tummy cramps are on the decrease, I have tons more energy in the evenings, I’ve lost inches off my waist and hips (and boobs…), and think I may even have lost a couple of pounds too. Do I think that my healthier eating habits contributed to both a 5 mile PB and a 5K PB in the last fortnight? I would definitely like to think so.
As part of the experiment I have been particpating in I have to have another series of tests done again, this Friday. I will be having my weight and body fat measured again, as well as my cholesterol and other blood tests. It is unlikey that after 6 weeks I will notice much of a difference in my test results, but I am already feeling the benefits of an improved diet and will definitely be keeping it up! Once I have balanced my food ratios better I will be moving onto the next step in pursuing my racing weight (as directed by Matt Fitzgerald’s book) and swapping some ‘better’ foods into my diet – that’s going to be tough!
But that’s in a few week’s time. Focusing on the now, here are some of the delicious treats I’ve been cooking up recently:
Homemade sweet potato and butternut squash soup
When I first left home and went to uni I went crazy for soup. What’s not to love about a meal that can be made from whatever crap is kicking around in your vegetable cupboard? Soup is fast proving to be a perfect weekday lunch. I can make it on a Sunday while I’m kicking around the kitchen and transport a week’s worth to the office in tupperware on a Monday. This potato/squash soup is low in fat and high in slow release complex carbs. Nom nom nom…
1 butternut squash, cubed and dry roasted with garlic
1 sweet potato, cubed and par boiled
chillie (powder or flakes)
Sweat the leek with a bit of olive oil and add the potato and squash. Cook together until everything is pretty soft. Add chillie, maybe some salt and pepper if you fancy and pour on about 3/4 pint of vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 40 mins – 1 hour. Blend using a hand blender or (if you’re posh and own one) a food processor.
This soup is deliciously thick…
Lamb meatball and pea pilaf
I always thought that lamb was really high in fat, but when browsing ‘low fat recipes’ on the BBC Good Food website I came across this gem of a recipe. It turns out that lamb is actually really good for a healthy diet as the fat is shuttled by amino acids in the lamb to parts of the body that metabolise it super fast. In short, it’s delicious and healthy (in moderation, obviously).
This meal is surprisingly quick and easy to make, not to mention delicious and very filling. Definately one to be eaten after a workout though, not before.
The original recipe made enough for 4 people so here is a one-person version:
100g lamb mince
1 garlic clove, chopped or crushed
1 teaspoon cumin
1 portion of brown basmati rice (about 1/4 cup dry rice)
3/4 – 1 pint vegetable stock
100g frozen peas
half a lemon, zest and juice
Mix the lamb mince with half the cumin and half the garlic and roll into balls. Gently fry for 8-10 mins until cooked, remove and set aside. Fry the rice with remaining cumin and garlic for 30 seconds and then add enough stock to cover the rice. Cook until all the stock is absorbed and the rice is cooked (I used about 3/4 pint of stock in the end). Reintroduce the lamb meatballs to your pan, along with the peas and lemon zest and juice (I would definitely err on the side of stingy with the juice though) and stir until everything is warm and cooked and delicious. Serve with a dollop of tzatziki.
Puff pie and chips
I had a grump on last week that would have made the moodiest of teenagers look like a bloody court jester. I just couldn’t cheer up. There was only one thing for it: pie and chips. Well, sort of.
1/4 sheet of ready made puff pastry
1/4 red pepper
1/4 yellow pepper
1/4 red onion
25g goats cheese
tbsp tomato puree
tsp garlic puree
Mix the tomato and garlic puree together with a bit of black pepper and spread on your pastry sheet. Chop the veggies and top the pastry with them. Crumble on the goats cheese. Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins at a regular temperature (my oven is a bit crap and has one temperature. I reckon 20 mins at 180 would do the trick).
1 baking potato
cajun spice from a jar
Slice the potato and par boil. Drain and transfer to a baking try. Sprinkle with spices and salt. Maybe drizzle with olove oil, but I’m trying to go easy on the oil consumption at the moment. Bake in the oven for about 20 mins.
Hoorah for comfort food!