Almost a year ago my cycling coach pointed out that if I wanted to ride faster uphill, I should lose weight. He’s ideally placed to dish out such advice since he looks as if he’s got 0% body-fat and I suspect, but haven’t checked, that my arms are fatter than his legs. I haven’t asked his wife but I’m sure he’s one of those naturally slim people and he eats pretty much what he wants without putting on weight. I’m not necessarily seeking to emulate him, though it would be nice to eat whatever I want without putting on weight; maybe in the next life. I have, on his advice, sought the assistance of a nutritionist, herself an endurance athlete, whose upper arms put me in mind of Madonna.
I started off by keeping a food diary and rather anticipated that I would be congratulated on my food choices. But, no, it was quite the contrary. I was advised that I ate too much dairy produce, too much fruit and not enough protein. As a consequence, I have given up eating dairy, have only one piece of fruit per day (usually my mid-afternoon snack) and made a point of eating protein at every meal. Another very important factor is portion control. When I started with the regime, I weighed everything to ensure that I didn’t exceed my daily allowances and still do so from time to time to make sure there’s no portion creep.
So typically, what do I eat? For breakfast I have porridge (made with water, no sugar) or soya yoghurt with 40 g of unsweetened muesli. If I’ve a long ride on the programme, I might also have some bread with either honey or my home-made jam. Lunch and dinner will both be 100g of protein plus either vegetables and/or salad. From time to time, and depending upon my exercise regime, I may have some other carbohydrates for lunch, such as a small portion of lentils or chick peas. I’m also allowed 1tbsp/day of cold olive oil but often don’t use it, preferring instead to make salad dressings from soya yoghurt, herbs and/or spices. I’m allowed a treat a week which is often a glass of champagne or maybe a coffee eclair. However, everything, and I do mean everything, is noted down in my food diary. I also endeavour to drink plenty of water and green tea along with a couple of mugs of coffee.
Another of my challenges was somewhat easier to deal with. I find that most of the drinks, gels and bars produced for endurance sports contain artificial sweeteners which my digestive system does not enjoy. I had, therefore, already developed a range of of homemade bars which provide me with the energy I need on long rides, which are void of any chemicals and which I can happily continue to use.
To start with, this new way of eating was somewhat boring but I have risen to the challenge and now feel I could produce my own cookery book full of delicious and tempting recipes which satisfy the strictures of my regime. In addition, I have damage limitation strategies for eating out in restaurants or at friends’. The weight has slid off slowly, which is good, as there’s a greater likelihood of it staying off. In addition, as my neighbours keep telling me, my body shape has changed quite dramatically as I have reduced my body fat percentage. But I cannot afford to become complacent, not with the Festive season looming. I am inching slowly towards my goal and I would like to achieve it before the start of next year’s cycling season ie at the beginning of March.