Yesterday I discussed the importance of using the plate method when planning your meals and snacks. As active individuals, I think it is easy for our body to crave carbohydrates considering that glycogen (stored carbs) is our primary fuel source during intense activity and endurance activity. However, the metabolism of carbs also depends on how you are fueling during exercise, with what you are fueling with during exercise, the intensity and duration as well as your overall daily diet.
I recognize that many athletes often reach a stopping point (or never start) when it comes to increasing lean body mass and decreasing fat mass when training for endurance events (or any distance for that matter). To be in good health and experience performance gains, I believe that we can change body composition without sacrificing performance by focusing on a plant-based diet, balanced with complex carbs, quality protein and healthy fats. But the key is BALANCE and consistency.
As an endurance athlete, I realize that starchy carbs (ex. bagels, waffles, pasta, pizza, bread) are very easy to consume after a long or intense training session. Sometimes our body will ask for certain foods based on how we utilize those fuels during training but sadly, our body can not always tell us how much we need to consume. Often, a full stomach and a feeling of tiredness is the result of eating more than our body can handle.
I ask you to try out the plate method for most of your meals today (and snacks). I don't believe in restriction when it comes to the diet nor do I believe in focusing on what to eliminate in the diet. Rather ADD to the diet. So if you are starting your day with 1 whole bagel w/ peanut butter, you have a great start!! However, because we are missing some color from fruits/veggies, how about having going down to 1/2 whole grain bagel with PB and adding yogurt (from the dairy group) with fruit. This way we are working towards a more balanced meal and over time, hopefully you will find yourself doing the same at all meals and snacks. Another example, rather than having a granola bar for a snack, how about having 2 WASA crackers w/ cheese and veggies. Here we have balance and you are using a snacking opportunity to get in quality vitamins and minerals. For dinner, rather than having pasta or just a salad, how about having a bowl of steamed veggies, with your choice of quality protein and then topping with your favorite high fiber pasta. Just a few suggestions to get you thinking like a well-fueled athlete who is striving for balance and working towards developing a healthy relationship with food.
Steamed Veggies w/ scrambled eggs and pasta OR Steamed veggies w/ fish and pasta (for Karel)
*For the fish, I used 1 fresh Talapia and marinated it in Newman's Own Low Fat Sesame Ginger Dressing for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator. I pre-heated the oven to 425 degrees F. I then chopped a few almonds and sliced some onion and cooked the fish for around 12 - 15 minutes (or minimum cooking temp of 150 degrees). Because I don't taste my recipes when I make them for Karel, I will pass along the message from Karel that "it was delicious!". My dish was super yummy as well!