Saturday, June 1, 2013

Best Foods for Runners?

"Hello. My name is Mendy and I am addicted to junk food!"

Seriously - I've been known - during a certain time of the month - to live off a diet of mostly chocolate and french fries!  Even when I am in weight loss mode, I still find that much of my "low-calorie" options are things like pretzles, low-carb ice cream and protein "candy" bars.

 Lately, I have been feeling yucky.

Sluggish/tired/depressed and my eating has been out of control. 12 days ago I gathered my nerves, put on my big girl panties, and stepped on the scales.

Whew!  Only up 4 lbs.

 But that extra weight was slowing me down.  I run with water bottles on a waist pack during the summer, and I figured this was like carrying 8 extra bottles during every run!  So those pounds had to go!

I fell back to my tried and true 1200 cal diet - but now that I'm also running 25 miles a week, that's just not cutting it.  Running makes me hungry. Legitimately hungry, not just head-hungry,  and when I start denying myself food while being actually hungry, I binge eat.

A few weeks ago, I ordered a book I thought might help - "Racing Weight" by Matt Fitzgerald:

This is not a review of that book.  I haven't had time to really study it and, while I did get some good info from it, I think I need to take a baby step approach to changing my present eating rut.   One thing it did impress upon me was the need to "clean up" my diet and eat healthier,  The problem with a non-foodie like me is that I don't know where to begin.  When I look up "simple" healthy dishes, they almost always contain ingredients I've never heard of and multiple steps.

My definition of easy is - peel back cover and heat in microwave for 4 minutes!

Which leads to the two sites I stumbled upon.

#1 - The Best Minimally Processed Foods For Runners
I placed the graphic for these foods on my sidebar.  but they are :
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Eggs
  • Black Beans
  • Salmon
  • Berries
  • Yogurt
  • Bananas
  • Lean Beef
  • Almond Butter
  • Quinoa
  • Coffee
#2 - The Best Foods for Runners (Runner's World)  This is an especially helpful article because it includes items readily available at your grocer and ideas for simple preparation.  Helpful if you are an anti-cook like me!
  • Almonds
  • Eggs
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Whole-Grain Cereal With Protein
  • Oranges
  • Canned Black Beans
  • Mixed Salad Greens
  • Salmon
  • Whole Grain Bread
  • Frozen Stir-Fry Vegis
  • Whole Grain Pasta
  • Chicken
  • Frozen Mixed Berries
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Low-Fat Yogurt
There is a bit of overlap in these lists, but both contain a lot of the foods that I already use and love.  So, I decided that for the next several weeks, I will concentrate on eating as much as I can from these two lists - and try very hard to leave off the junk.

I am now on day 12.

Day 1  - was fine.   I had cocoa-roasted almonds for the first time ever.   What a revelation!  When I finished my 100 calorie pack I actually stopped.  I felt satisfied.  Hmmmm.... there might be something to this almond thing.

Day 2 - I craved junk all day.  I only gave in a very little and had a few Skittles.  Please tell me I am not the only one who craves Skittles!  Sour Skittles are the best!

Day 3 - I had a headache all day.  I suspect this was my body's way of rebelling against me for taking away the junk it has learned to live on.  But, on a positive note, I sent this text to my husband:
"I just ate the best baked sweet potato I've ever had in my life! Absolutely nothing on it mmmmm-mmmmm!"

Day 4 - I cooked salmon for the first time ever.  In fact, I cannot remember ever even eating salmon before.  It was absolutely delicious!  I used this super-simple (really!) recipe. 

Day 5 - Everything suddenly fell into place.  I felt great and I finally lost that constant desire to eat.   I did eat ice cream after dinner, but it was planned and within my calorie limit.  (I am eating 1500-1600 calories on non-running days and 2,000 to 2,500 on running days)  And it was *real* ice cream - not the fake stuff.

Days  6-12 - I have now created several meals using two ingredients I had never purchased before: quinoa and black beans.  It is ironic how much can change in less than 2 weeks!  Except for being more tired than usual, I am feeling healthier, much more in control, and my runs have improved dramatically!  This morning was hot, humid, and miserable - but I ran my long run at an average pace 10 seconds faster than just last week.  For me, that is huge!

I haven't stepped back on the scales, but I really don't have to.  I feel better and that is what matters.  I believe I will get over the tiredness after my body has more time to adapt.  Or when I up my calories again.  By then, maybe - just maybe - I'll be a lean, mean, running machine!

Are you happy with your diet?
Do you have any super-quick and easy recipes you care to share?

May you run happy today!