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Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Strength Athlete's Diet - ie What I eat

Diet is one of the most important aspects of an athlete's recovery. Just pop-open any generic fitness magazine and you'll see more ads for supplements than articles.  It begs the question- what really is important when it comes to diet? 

If you are a strength athlete,  then excessive bodyfat makes your muscles less efficient (I'll refer you to Dr Herrera for the physiological details).  Simultaneously, you want to feel energized when your compete and train, and you don't want to be excessively sore the morning after your training session.  Hence, diet is always about finding the optima for multiple requirements. 

Here is a snapshot of  my personal food intake rules (just sharing not saying you should do this):
1. The two deadliest sins for my diet are sugar and fried food.  I avoid them like the plague.
2. Lots of protein, I find the 1-2g per lb of muscle guidelines to be sufficient
3. Lots of vegetables
4. No empty starch like white bread, tasty cakes, crackers
5. Tea and coffee-- antioxidants!
6. Fiber!
7. Lay off the bread/pasta, unless its made from some ancient grain that most people can't pronounce ("quinoa") and is laden with flax seeds
8. Avoid alcohol and carbonated drinks

Now, its not enough for me to just follow the above.  More importantly, it is how I use the above elements.

Philosophy 1:  body is a precious, high performance machine. Would you put the cheap gas in a Ferrari--would you forget to put diesel in the tank?    For example, if I absolutely need to eat chocolate, I'm going to go for a bite of 70+% cacao, low sugar, organic creation versus a candy bar.   Its all about QUALITY.  You can find inexpensive quality food too; for example, whole oats verus sugar laden flavored instant Oatmeal.

Philosophy 2: Timing!  Use food as a tool. Be pruposefil with what I eat. 
Here's a few heuristics I apply to food and timing:
Eating carbs late at night = bad. Eating carbs shortly before workout= good. 
Sugar at meal time = bad, sugar during intense training replete glycogen stores efficiently = not that bad
Fresh coffee= antioxidants, Coffee all day = acid erosion on teeth and acid reflux
Meat & fiber less right before workout = blood to stomach, Meat and fiber ~2 hours before workout = digested and energy for training
Vegetables = can eat them any time of the day
Carbs before & after workout = glycogen, carbs late at night = fat!
No grains = super ripped, No Grains also = less energetic during workout

Again, the above are some personal heuristics I apply.  Ofcourse, there will be scenarios where these don't work, and they are, otherwise, highly effective for me.  I have found that doing really specific diets such as Atkins or Paleo helped me lose fat -- BUT suboptimized my athletic performance. 

Have your cake and eat it.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I LOVE YOU. This is a lot like how I've been eating since I picked up weight lifting almost a year ago. I'm training now for an amateur lifting competition early next year. Ladies like you are so inspiring!

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