Friday, July 15, 2011

You Must Eat Like 10,000 Calories a Day Right?:Ultramarathoner's Diet

Usually the first question I get when talking to people about ultra running is "Why?" The second questions is "How?" then usually the third or forth is related to how much and what I eat. A lot of people hear that Michael Phelps, the Olympic swimmer, eats 12,000 calories a day yet still have less than 5% body fat and they assume that an ultra runner has a similar diet. (Michael Phelps' diet)Though I do eat more than the normal person, probably a lot more, it's not anywhere near the 12,000 calorie mark.

To be honest I don't count calories and I'm beginning to believe that calories are really not the best way to measure nutrient in-take and when exercising output. Back to Michael Phelps he does consume around 12,000 calories a day and who knows how many calories he is burning but from what I have read he has a pretty "loose" diet. Meaning that he pretty much eats whatever he wants. Yes, this from the guy who consumes about three times the amount of donuts as the normal person and eats snickers bars during workouts, but my daily diet is fairly healthy.

As I have mentioned before I do not have a specific diet and it has changed a lot over the past few years as I am always trying new things in search of nutritional guidance to enhance my running performance. I have been a vegetarian for a month, intended to tried a 100% raw food diet for a month but only lasted 5 days, tried an all liquid diet (not alcohol) or juice feasting diet for a week and I did the Tim Ferris's Slow Carb diet (Tim is the author of the The 4-Hour Workweek
and The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman
both of which I highly recommend)for 30 days. As a side note, I really do believe that the Slow Carb diet works and actually lost about 6lbs, just through changing my diet, my exercise levels pretty much stayed the same. 6bls in 30 days is not that much but considering that I have around 7% body fat and already live a very active and fairly healthy lifestyle I'd say that's pretty significant. i.e. I don't really need to lose weight but thought the diet was so ridiculous that I had to prove it wrong.

Now I'm reading about and slowly incorporating some of the practices of the Paleo Diet from the book The Paleo Diet for Athletes: A Nutritional Formula for Peak Athletic Performance. So far it is a really good book that talks about a lot of general nutrition for all athletes, especially endurance athletes. It has been an interesting dietary journey these last couple of years and I'm sure I'm not at the end.

Right now I am doing a hybrid of a few different diets and still figuring out what works best. My basic guidelines are lean proteins, a lot of veggies, no dairy except some Greek yogurt, some fruit and avoid processed food as much as possible. Yes, my beloved donuts do not align very well with any of my current or past diets, however, I will argue avidly that their physiological benefits greatly outweighs there lack of nutritional content.

So what do I actually eat? Well let me show you. I have been taking pictures of everything that I consume for the past few days using my cell phone camera. It turns out that this is a quick and easy way to log all of your food intake for any of you who track or need to record the food you consume. I don't really count calories for the reason stated above, I am really more focused on getting the nutrients I feel I need in order to meet my training or racing goals. Losing weight is really not one of them so I don't know that I'd recommend you follow my lead if that is your goal. One other key is that I drink a lot of water, depending on the type of workout I do I will consume 150oz-200oz of water a day.

I have been experimenting with portions and timing of eating as well but still do not have it down to a science. Many athletes eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day which is thought to help maintain blood sugar levels and reduce the amount of food stored as body fat. However, I have recently read that while doing this will help maintain blood sugar levels there is no evidence that it will help to reduce the amount of fat that body stores. Actually Ben Greenfield, an endurance athlete and top nutritionist for endurance athletes, recommends intermittent fasting for periods of around 8 hours. This is said to help the body get used to utilizing it fat stores, which is something that endurance athletes utilize during long workouts and races.

Anyways I've posted the pictures below and I hope they give you an idea of what I eat on a daily basis. Enjoy!

Breakfast 7-13/5:00am: 4 scrambled eggs with spinach, black beans, corn and peppers

2nd Breakfast 7-13 /7:15am: Lean grilled beef tips and broccoli

7-13/7:30am:Yerba Mate with breakfast

Lunch 7-13/11:25am: Broccoli with grilled Chicken breast with Thia Curry Sauce

Dinner7-13/5:20pm: Pork and Red Cabbage Lettuce Wraps(Almost forgot to take picture there were 5 of them)

Snack 7-13/6:00pm: Flax Seed Veggie Chips and Salsa

2nd Supper 7-13/9:50pm: Sauteed Chicken Breast, Asparagus, Yellow Squash, Zucchini and Tomatoes

Breakfast 7-14/5:10am: 4 scrambled eggs with spinach, black beans, corn and peppers

Breakfast 7-14/5:10am:Dunkin Donuts Coffee (I drink about 3-4 cups a day)

Snack 7-14/9:05am:Handful of Raw Almonds

2nd Breakfast 7-14/9:17am: Grilled Lean Beef Tips and Steamed Broccoli

Lunch 7-14/2:25pm: Grilled Chicken Breast with Thia Curry Sauce and Steamed Broccoli

Supper 7-14/5:55pm: Can of V8

Supper 7-14/6:10pm: Chicken, Peppers, Red Onion, Corn and Black Bean Lettuce Wraps

Late Night Snack 7-14/9:44pm: Carrot Sticks

Nightcap 7-14/9:45pm:Norcal Margarita

Breakfast 7-15/4:55am: 4 Eggs over-easy, spinach and salsa

2nd Breakfast 7-15/9:40am: Sauteed Chicken Breast, Tomatoes, Asparagus, Yellow Squash, Zucchini

Snack 7-15/11:30am: Carrot Sticks and Edamame Hummus

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