Goals of my diet:
Improve recovery by reducing inflammation
High amounts of carbohydrate
Consume adequate protein for recovery
Strengthen immune system
Consume adequate iron, b-12, folate for blood-building
Reduce carbon footprint and overall impact on nature
Ways to accomplish this:
An emphasis on fruit, vegetables, legums and grains, and small amounts of sea food and high-iron content meats.
My most recent food ideology (12-8-2011) consists of a combination of the paleo diet, the Kenyan diet, and a plant-based diet. After catching a cold recently while I was on the Kenyan diet, I’ve decided I hadn’t been eating enough micro-nutrient-dense foods. In all fairness, I also wasn’t truly on the the Kenyan diet. I had been eating a lot more meat, junk food, and dairy, which was all free for me–all from the leftovers at the hotel where I currently work. I pretty much adopted the “scavangers” diet, eating and taking home massive amounts of leftover food that would have ended up in the trash, including a huge amount of fine cheeses. While cheap (I was spending about $1.50 on food a day), I believe my scavanenger diet lead me to getting sick—along with other factors such as being exposed to thousands of people on a daily basis, shoveling snow in 20-degree weather, and eating leftovers off people’s plates….not smart. Anyways, I’m back on my HIGH fruit and HIGH vegetable diet, supplemented now with rice, beans, peas, and lentils for more protein and carbohydrates. I’m cutting back on dairy and meat too, in an attempt to reduce my cold frequencies and reduce the acidity of my blood. The only dairy I eat is from a scoop or two of whey protein per day on hard days, and the only meat I’m eating is a few pieces of chicken liver a week and the occasional bit of sea food. I plan on heading to the asian market to check out the prices they have on canned fish, oysters, and clams. While I believe a wholely plant-based diet is optimal for nearly normal human, as an endurance athlete who has low iron levels as it is, I think I need the extra blood-building nutrients found in meat to keep my iron and hematocrit levels as high as possible. Hopefully I can improve my recovery time, reduce sickness, reduces inflammation, and keep my carbon footprint as low as I can on this diet.
I change my thoughts on food every few months, so it’s hard to say what I might be currently doing. As I write this though, I’m eating a diet that consists with the bulk of the calories coming from steel cut oats, brown rice, split peas, lentils, bananas, and eggs. This ideology comes from reading up on the diet of Kenyan runners, who are mainly fueled by gains, table sugar, milk, and beans. Though I still refrain from most dairy, I’m incorporating this high grain/ high carbohydrate diet with the idea that if it works for them, is cheap, and keeps me performing, that’s what I’ll do. I still use a little whey protein after my rides to boost my recovery rate, and I also buy chicken liver for iron and b-12, though I don’t eat a lot of meat. And I continue to eat plenty of dark green vegetables and high-vegetable content salads. And of course I’ll still eat anything that’s given to me for free or at dinner, but I’m eating fewer fruits than last year, which, according to a study I re-read on vitamin-C, may be reducing the necessary free-radical damage needed to promote adaptations from training. It’s also half the cost.
Older stuff is everything below, including this:
Since writing the stuff way down below, I’ve changed my diet once again. I still believe a lot of what I wrote a few months ago, but I’m mainly leaving it for you to read because it took me a long time to write all that junk and I don’t want to have to explain the reasons for what I believe over again.. Here’s what I eat now. The most important foods are:
Fruit, vegetables, meat, race/training food.
Breakfast is a large bowl of mixed fruit, preferably two-four hours before the race/ride. My favorite fruits to add are apples, pears, bananas, oranges, water melon, mangos, grapes, plums, peaches, pineapple, blue berries, papaya, strawberries. Whatever is on sale, but I always add apples and bananas. Sometimes I’ll add steal cut oats for extra calories during a stage race, but you can get the extra calories by just adding more bananas, which is probably better anyways. My other bowl of food is a mixture of mushrooms, eggs, and usually a small amount of meat. Canned salmon or chicken usually. Breakfast for a big road race during a stage race is usually more greasy than one I’d eat at home. I won’t shy away from a plate of pancakes, bacon, sausage, and biscuits and gravy. It’s good to mix things up anyways.
Race/training food is Hammer Products. My favorite stuff is perpetuem and the hammer bars. I also take along a flask or two of fake maple syrup, Snickers bars, juice, and sometimes a Hostess apple pie if the mood strikes. High glycemic food is best. I have no problem eating on the bike during races like most people do. I can eat a gas station burrito with hot sauce if I want, but too much protein and fat will just sit in your stomach and cause extra blood to be diverted to your intestines to help with digestion. Sugar is your friend during races. Just a little fat and protein is enough.
Recovery food is more fruit. If I’m at a stage race, things change and I’ll drink recoverite, eat whatever race food is laying around, candy, and go get a Chipotle burrito for convenience’s sake. Otherwise, when I’m training at home, recovery food is a fruit and whey smoothie, more fruit, sardines, oysters, more fruit.
Dinner is a stir fry or soup mixture, mainly composed of vegetables but also a good amount of meat if I haven’t had very much before during the recovery phase. The stir fry and soup ingredients are the same: green cabbage, onions, carrots, beats, bell peppers, other kinds of peppers like wax or jalapeno, tomatoes, celery, bean sprouts, mushrooms, cilantro (added raw), broccoli, kale, spinach…these are some of the usual staples but I’ll do whatever. For meat I’ve been eating lots of chicken liver lately (for iron). Fish is good (whatever’s cheapest) and chicken. I usually don’t eat red meat. It usually has close to equal ratios of fat and protein, and I don’t want that kind of fat.
With all the fruit, you’d think I’d bonk or be low on energy since it’s all sugar and high glycemic. This is what I thought too a few months ago. I was wrong. You CAN get all the carbs you need from fruit, and they aren’t high glycemic either. In fact a lot of fruit has a lower glycemic load than whole grain bread and pasta, which has no vitamins or minerals.
Of course I don’t follow this diet that closely. I cheat all the time with regular food like pizza, pasta, and steaks. I just don’t buy any of that stuff for the fridge.
What I wrote earlier:
Everything you thought you knew about nutrition is wrong, except for the fruit and vegetable part. That part is probably right–in the sense that they are good to eat. I recently read “The Paleo Diet for Athletes,” and have decided to believe everything the authors brainwashed me with. The book was written in 2005, so it’s probably already out of date or will become out of date in a few years. BUT, it brings up some valid points. The main one is that humans lived for hundreds if not billions of years before Jesus Christ created agriculture. With agriculture (grains, dairy, and feed lot animals), came many problems, such as: disease, overpopulation, pollution, war, cars, and the general decline of human-kind. It’s been all downhill since 15,000 years ago. Before Jesus ruined our way of life, humans (then hunter gatherers) lead strenuous and dangerous lives. But, except during times of starvation, they lead healthy lives. That’s because they ate the foods they had evolved to eat. Contrary to public belief (and the belief of the USDA) humans did not evolve to eat milk, any forms of grain or processed foods, cows, pigs, cheese, or maltodextrin (of which I consume roughly 100 pounds a year). Unfortunately, just about none of our “natural” foods exist anymore. Even apples and potatoes weren’t what they were 50,000 years ago. But the paleo diet attempts to mimic the foods our ancestors ate, so apples and potatoes are considered good to eat by the paleo diet people. And for those of you who consider yourselves athletes, other unnatural foods should be consumed that our ancestors didn’t have access to, like maltodextrin and white bread, in order to recover more quickly from hard workouts. Restoring glycogen to muscles is the most important step in the recovery process, and nothing restores muscle glycogen than high glycemic carbs right after a workout.
Breakfast or 1-3 hours before a workout:
big bowl of fruit with some nuts possibly (also steel cut oats if it’s going to be a hard workout)
meat or fish
mushrooms–for their anti-estrogen (aromatase-inhibiting) properties. The theory is that they block an enzyme called aromatase, which takes testosterone and converts it to estrogen. Testosterone repairs muscles, estrogen causes cancer (if there is too much in the body). Chemicals in mushrooms have been shown to inhibit the conversion of testosterone to estrogen, so this is why I eat them.
high glycemic foods mainly.
white bread sandwiches
gels and race powders (for races only since they’re expensive)
bananas (not a lot of calories in a banana though so they’re mainly just for something extra)
candy, soda, or anything like that at a gas station stop
homemade rice cakes
Post workout: 0-30 minutes after the workout
Focus on high glycemic foods and lots of them. The authors recommend this meal should be eaten in the form of a liquid shake to increase the rate of digestion and get the sugar to the muscles as quickly as possible. Of course, add in protein too. Roughly 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein. Here’s what I eat:
In a blender:
spinach (just for antioxidants/vitamins)
cocoa powder (just for antioxidants. And flavor)
But don’t stop there if you’ve been riding for four hours. That’s just the first thing. After that, things like pie, cookies, soda, bread, cereal, raisins, and other high insulin-inducing foods are best. Well, not the BEST, but at least acceptable. Lately I’ve been cutting back on all grains and sticking to fruit for my carbohydrates, even during the recovery phase.
30 minutes to the length of however long your workout was:
You’re still eating high glycemic foods, but less sugary than stuff like white bread and soda. However long the workout was (let’s say four hours), that’s how long your second window for eating high glycemic recovery foods is. You now have four hours to eat recovery food that wasn’t really available to hunter gatherers. Now is also the time to start eating stuff with micro-nutrients as well (vitamins/minerals). Of course protein is important now as well. Like I said up above, I’ve been swaying towards less processed grains lately. Even though the authors of the Paleo Diet believe they’re good to replenish glycogen stores after longer, harder workouts, they don’t advocate them in large quantities and prefer you stick to non grains for your carbohydrate needs. Unless I’m at a stage race where eating my normal diet of fruit is too time consuming and inconvenient, I stick to fruit.
The authors of the paleo diet don’t like grains because of their high-acidic impact on the body. They believe that some foods (grains, meat and dairy) will make your blood more acidic and hamper recovery and performance. Fruit and vegetables have an alkaline-inducing effect on the body. Raisins are especially good. I don’t completely follow this part of their book, but I do try to eat more natural (fruit and tuber) carbs than grain if I can help it.
After your recovery window or all other times of the day (excluding the pre workout meal and ride food):
This is when you stick to the paleo diet.
lean meat (not hamburger)
quality fats like coconut milk (not really prevalent to the hunter gatherers but important nonetheless)
–No grains, dairy, fruit or vegetable juice (too much sugar), anything processed like bread or cereal.
Of course, during stage races, exceptions should be made. I’d suggest eating whatever you desire for a week long stage race. Especially high-carb foods. But remember, your muscles can replenish glycogen best right after the workout. The longer you put off eating, the poorer your recovery will be. It’s imperative that you eat immediately afterwards and replenish as much glycogen as possible in the recovery window after your workout, which is equivalent to the time spent working out.
The main concept of the paleo diet, for athletes, is to realize the benefits of restoring your muscle glycogen right after the workout, and then consume as many micro-nutrients from fruit and vegetables as possible (as well as eating a high-protein diet rich in the BCAA’s for muscle-fiber recovery). The authors are also pretty crazy about omega-3 fatty acids, but only the omega-3s found in animal products. Walnuts and flaxseed are very high in omega-3, but they’re the wrong kind (ALA). The beneficial types of omega-3 acids are DHA and EPA, found in high concentrations in salmon, sardines, and other cold water fatty fish. The body can convert ALA to DHA and EPA, but only very small percentages (something like 3-10% of ALA gets converted to DHA and EPA). From what I gather, there aren’t a lot of sources of DHA and EPA. They were plentiful (and still are) in wild game, but not feed lot animals, which are fed a diet of grain that reduces the quality of good fat and increases the quality of unhealthy fat and cholesterol. It’s too bad that most food companies and our government don’t give a damn about us. But we knew that already.
My FIRST few year’s thoughts on diet when I began riding:
Lots of cereal. Lots of egg whites. Lots of chicken breast. Lots of oats. Then became the era of:
Lots of squash and bean soups. Almost no protein and very little salt. Lots of oats. Next up was the era of:
Lots of oats. Lots of whole grain pasta. Lots of chicken and red meat. Lots of olive oil.
Recipe for SNEAT banana bread—ride food:
Mix all of the following ingredients in a bowl and pour onto a thick baking pan. Bake at 375 for 20-40 minutes depending on how much you make.
Mash 3-5 bananas in a bowl and add a tiny bit of water, then add the following:
Couple cups of unbleached flour (not whole grain because you don’t want all that fiber while you ride).
Half as many cups of brown sugar as flour
About a half cup of canola oil.
2 Tbsp baking powder.
Consistency should be very wet. If not, add a tiny bit more water.
That’s all you need for the base. But you can add some of this stuff to make it much much better:
Chocolate chips (but they melt when it’s hot out)
Honey or agave nectar instead of brown sugar
Almond or Peanut butter
Bob’s Red Mill 12-grain cereal mixture (very good)