Sunday, January 24, 2010

Nuts to you (and fruits and veggies)

Since shortly after the start of the New Year I have changed my eating habits, both for a more healthy lifestyle and to see if it makes any difference in my riding performance. Late last year I had begun to do some investigation in to the Paleo diet, sometimes called the caveman diet.

The word "diet" has the image of something you do to lose weight and seems to be a temporary thing. This is more of a change in eating habits that also brings about weight loss as a benefit, not as the primary goal. The Paleo in the strictest sense does not allow most foods that would have not been around during the caveman's time, before agriculture became a common practice.

This means that it focuses on fruits, vegetables, nuts, eggs, fish, and lean cuts of meats. Gone are the grains, dairy, sugars, fatty meats, legumes and some starchy vegetables such as potatoes. Depending on who the author is, there may be other items either allowed or disallowed. At first glance it would appear all the good food is literally off the plate.

For endurance athletes it presents a problem since carbohydrates are a big source of our energy. It is hard getting enough from fruits and veggies but a revised Paleo diet for athletes makes some allowances for extra sources of carbs immediately before, during, and after exercise. For the rest of the time you should be following the guidelines. But it is expected that from time to time you allow yourself a cheat meal or item.

So, for the last three weeks I have been eating a lot healthier than I have in the past but it has been a struggle at times to find the right foods or meals, especially when you consider other members of the family that don't share the same limitations on diet. It has meant that some meals may be compromises or that an ingredient is left out or a portion or even something else altogether is chosen.

I have also found that eating healthier is also more expensive as cheap food is usually loaded with things that are not good for you. Fresh is expensive. And it doesn't even have to be organic.

My results seem to be typical of most who start on the diet, I lost over 10 pounds in the three weeks since starting. A lot of that was probably water loss. I also initially noticed a surge in energy as my body was cleansing itself of the bad stuff. As other endurance athletes had noted , you hit a low point before starting to rebound and have greater endurance and recovery. I think I was at the low point last week, so now I hope things start to improve.

I have been cooking some meals and eating things that I never would have before. I think my taste buds have become more sensitive and things taste sweeter or saltier than before. Looking for Paleo recipes I discovered a great egg breakfast that includes chorizo, onions and raisins. I used chicken chorizo and it tasted great. Today I made a stew that included turnips and parsnips. I don't know when the last time was that I had those two vegetables but found I enjoyed the taste. And I rediscovered brussel sprouts.

I have cheated a few time such as eating a hamburger on a bun and also a hot dog last week. Yesterday I had a few pieces of pizza. But I found that once I ate them I didn't seem to feel as well. But they sure tasted good. It will be interesting to see how long I can keep this up. I may find that I have to modify the rules to suit our budget, meal constraints, or my training needs.

Yesterday I met up with some of my singlespeed buddies for a back road ride and I finished up with four hours. I could that I didn't have quite the energy or strength I normally would but expect that to change over the next few months. Today I did a two hour ride but decided to stay inside due to the rain.

My knee is still bothering me a little and I think the time has come to finally get it looked at. Hopefully it something that will just go away with time.

This week will be busy as Emily and the grand kids come back into town for a few days before leaving for home. And then Sunday is the MMBA annual meeting in Lansing.

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