So obviously warmer weather = more riding.
The thing is, like I’ve mentioned earlier, I’m not ready for all this sun. The riding’s whipping my legs into shape, but there’s the other half of the equation: what I’m eating.
That cyclists are constantly famished is old news. But caught in a power-to-weight ratio sport, we’re still clearly obsessed with food, nutrition, health, and how that all translates to speed [or not]. So even if you’re bored of hearing about it, if Bicycling can do a full feature on food, well, SO CAN I.
Okay so we all know that calories in < calories out = weight loss. The thing is, when you don’t really qualify as an endurance athlete but do more with your body than lie on the couch and eat chips all day, what the hell are you supposed to eat? A good ride might make you want to inhale your refrigerator once you get home, but the simple truth is that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. On the other hand, if you’re constantly hungry, you’re not going to want to ride or ride well.
I’ve been watching what I eat [I’ve mostly succeeded in banning processed food from my kitchen], but a lot of the time, I’m famished an hour or two after meals. I would predictably lurk near my kitchen, nibbling on this and that; small wonder I haven’t lost a pound since I got my wisdom teeth pulled in, oh....2007.
Enter Mike’s mom, who is a legitimately awesome lady, as well as an unrivaled resource when it comes to health and nutrition. She suggested trying the Zone to get rid of the crazy cravings.
I was skeptical. Just like Atkins, it seemed like there were too many celebrities involved for it to actually work for real people. But Mike’s mom swears by it, so out of curiosity, I checked out their website. The basic premise is that depending on your gender, height, and weight, you’re allocated a certain number of “protein blocks.” For each block of protein, you’re supposed to eat a block each of fat and carbs. This is supposed to balance out your meals and keep you from getting hungry within 3-4 hours after a meal. Oh, and you’re not limited to one block of protein, carbs, and fat per meal; it depends on what you’re allocated [for me, it’s 11 blocks], but you’re supposed to divide the blocks up into 3 meals and 2 snacks [that would be 3 blocks per meal for me and 1 block each for my snacks]. A chart converting measurements of proteins, carbs, and fats into block is available here.
Okay so this is where it gets slightly complicated. 1 block of protein is about 1oz. But the serving size for 1 block of carbs or fat depends; 1 block of carbs can be either ½ a slice of bread or 4 cups of raw spinach. See where this is going? It essentially encourages you to eat more vegetables and fruits with your protein, as opposed to bread or super simple carbs that will send your blood sugar crashing. For example, in the above picture, for lunch I had a giant bed of lettuce, half a tomato [carbs], plus 2oz of sardines [2 blocks of protein], ¼ of an avocado [fat], and ½ a grapefruit [more carbs].
Still with me? No?
I didn’t think so. Which is why I’ve been playing guinea pig for you all since Sunday. Okay, not really, but I’m giving it a shot. It’s an interesting way to combine and eat food; and it’s a change that you can actually stick to for the rest of your life. I don’t have to eat massive quantities of meat all the time [3oz is about the size of your palm or a deck of cards] and lots of vegetables are involved. I am changing it up a bit, like eating 6 smaller meals a day as opposed to 5 [I like to eat, okay?], and I'm not following it to a T. But, I am documenting it all on flickr. No guarantees that there won’t be repetition [there already is abundant repetition], but if you’re interested, at the very least it’ll give you an idea on how to eat/GET IN THE ZOONNNEEEE.
And the best part? It’s keeping me full. As in not starving by 10am, even when I’m riding.
Now here’s to hoping I can shed some pounds while I’m at this...
I never really understood the obsession with protein until my hot cousin married a yachtsman.
Tall and ruggedly handsome, sporting the perpetual tan, I was impressed. He also happened to be a super nice guy, and we shot the shit about the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup, the then-new yacht used by Team New Zealand that ended up breaking into pieces, and what it feels like to be on a yacht that is fucking flying. On water.
He also told me how, when he was racing full-time, he was eating about 10,000 calories a day.
Back then, I was all wtf. But following and befriending a few real cyclists, it makes sense, and consuming that many calories doesn’t seem so much like a death sentence to skinny. Well, that and the fact that my cousin’s husband had a regimented diet balanced out for his sailing skills.
I don’t have a nutritionist, unfortunately, so I’m left to my own devices of “don’t eat too much processed shit” and “eat balanced meals.” Which translates to “eat stuff that won’t break the bank.” Too bad when you start riding a lot more, you tend to get hungry. Like all the time.
So in comes protein [to supplement my massive caffeine consumption], which is supposed to keep you fuller longer and help build muscle and all that goodness. But being a former vegetarian, I'm a tiny bit wary of animal products. Still, when a friend comes up to visit his parents who own some free range chickens, and hands you half a dozen fresh eggs, dinner for the next week is going to be omelettes and sunny side ups and scrambled eggs.
Cracking open the first one in the pan a few nights ago, I was tempted to bike down to M1’s parents’ house. Or at least steal a chicken. These things are huge. These eggs are to grocery store eggs what Chris Hoy would be to a sad anorexic hipster. And as delicious [looking] in comparison.
I've actually been hoarding a few; making that half dozen stretch. And as odd as it may sound, this is dinner food. I somehow still can't manage to eat much before a ride. Call it a digestive system used to a day that starts at school or the office, but eating anything before 9am [even with a ride planned] takes a conscious effort. Although, of course, that could just be a sign that I need to do more riding.
At least these delicious protein bombs have me pedaling faster on the way home...
Fake til you make it. That's what some reliable news sources [read: Cosmo] have taught me.
That might be why I only wear spandex and Sidis nowadays and will at least try to look the part of serious cyclist. Let's try to forget that I'm currently - and probably will continue to be - incredibly slow. Those are small details that aren't really relevant to this discussion.
Given my recent acquisition of Sidis [seriously one of the most comfortable, efficient things I've ever had attached to my feet], it probably doesn't come as a surprise that I'm turning the "faking it" up a notch. I even have a jersey now [okay, that was almost a joke purchase but I love to rock it]. Now if only my Bianchi looked less like a commuter beater bike and more...racy.
Of course - this being me - I mean that in both senses of the word. The Bianchi being my official training bike [I am currently shamelessly loving that freewheel], I need it to be fast and, you know, as sexy as possible. And while the pink + dark green theme was cool in that super fixster look-I'm-so-hipster-I-can-look-good-in-colors-that-don't-really-match kind of way, watermelons don't really move quickly. They sort of just roll sluggishly.
So it was time for a change. Chris had been pointing out how faded out and gross my formerly pink bartape was for about the past month [yeah, I have amazing friends]. I tested the waters with the purchase and application of a pair of Vittoria Randonneurs. They looked fast. I plunged into the "racy" pool with Pro white bartape last night.
Yeah, yeah, I know. Me? Fast? It's more than a vain hope. It's more like a delusion. Still, I've heard, from reliable sources, that while training endlessly will make you fast, white bartape makes you go even faster. Okay, yeah, that presumes you enjoy training for hours on a trainer, Powercranks, and that inexplicable pain of drinking protein shakes. I'm obviously not there yet...but I'm working on it.
In the meantime, the goal is to at least look like I enjoy all of the above. I'm already practicing chugging protein shakes with a smile. Now if only my legs can keep up...
[Oh, and I'm expecting full reports on Battenkill!]