Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Now here's a topic we all like to talk about!

I guess you could say I've become a bit of a girl. A few years back I would eat and drink with gay abandon, pretty confident in my high metabolism and amount of exercise being able to keep the weight off. I never used to weigh myself, ever- why bother? So why now all these years later do I find myself weighing myself every morning?! Well, mainly because I update my weight every day on Running2Win, but joking aside, I am definitely becoming more and more conscious about what I am eating and also what my family are eating.

I have a pretty boring diet. During the week when I am working I seem to eat pretty much the same stuff every day. At the weekend, not so much. With a race or hard workout every Saturday and the obligatory Sunday long run I can still pretty much get away with eating anything over the weekend!

Anyhow, I know I don't eat optimally for an athlete (by any means!)but I thought I'd share with you all a typical day's diet just to see if I can generate any comments and for you to compare your diets against. One thing I do not do is count calories, although I'm fairly confident I can judge roughly how many calories are in a particular meal/snack. As I said, there's not much science that goes into my diet. I eat things I like and try to eat more 'good' than ' bad'. I weigh myself every day and make sure I'm not putting too much weight on and conversely am not losing weight. My weight typically fluctuates between 149 and 153 lbs (I'm 6"2, lean build) and I think I feel and run my best at 150 lbs.

Here's what I eat on a typical week day (I also drink at least 2 litres of water each day, more when I work out in the heat)

Breakfast- big bowl of whole grain cereal with raisins and skimmed milk, cup of hot tea

Morning snacks- peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat, two apples, can of diet soda

Lunch- leftovers from previous night's evening meal (see below for typical example), something from vending machine depending on whether I'm in a sweet mood (chocolate bar) or savoury (bag of 'healthy' chips/crackers)

Afternoon snack- bowl of oatmeal, cup of hot tea

Dinner- big plate of chicken/beef stir fry of some sort, vegetables, rice or pasta, two slices of wholemeal toast, bowl of wholegrain cereal with raisins and skimmed milk, hot cup of tea

After kids in bed- cup of hot tea, maybe some more toast or some Graham crackers, nothing too heavy

At the weekend there's less structure. I pretty much eat when I feel like it and tend to eat more 'bad' stuff, we'll often eat out at least once over the weekend and I'm quite happy to throw down some beers if the mood takes- although if I'm going to have a drink I try and cut down the calories I'm eating while I'm drinking!

Would be interested in any feedback and also other examples of what fellow runners typically eat....


  1. Paul...love the meal plan (diet!) For me, having grown up a wrestler and not a runner, food is something I eat all day long. I believe in "soaking my body with nutrients" and it may be one of the reasons why I've had only one injury in almost 20 years of running. And as Mo Campbell blogged, I always finish the night off with a big milkshake! Cheers...

  2. Since you requested it, I thought I would mention that you can find out about my nutrition/eating habits in my latest "nutrition check/update" running2win log entry on March 2nd of this year. I appreciate the fact that some kind of thought goes into what you put inside your body as it is likewise with myself. gcarunner [George]

  3. Wow, I think you eat more calories through lunch than I eat all day.

    But if it keeps you running, that is all that counts.

  4. interesting Bill and you must burn a ton more calories than i do per day. just shows you we all have our own dietary needs and wants- Spada clearly just eats all day!

  5. OK, I'll chime in. A typical day for me:

    Pre-run: some combination of carbohydrate and protein, either liquid (if workout is closer to the meal) or solid (if 60+ minutes until workout). Liquid is usually a pre-mixed whey/malto drink; solid is something like half a banana & peanut butter or half of a PowerBar (or more, depending on length & intensity of the run). Chased with a cup of coffee.

    Post-run (breakfast): oatmeal made with raisins, fresh berries, banana, lowfat milk, walnuts & flax meal and two eggs (one white, one whole). Weekend substitution is one round whole grain Belgian waffle topped with lowfat yogurt, applesauce, berries, banana, walnuts, and flax meal. Served again with a side of eggs (or a protein shake or small glass of chocolate milk if I'm lazy). Plus the obligatory cup of black coffee.

    Snack: a few almonds or other nuts, lowfat yogurt, cup of fresh fruit (usually some kind of melon)

    Lunch: Kashi granola bar, big salad with lots of greens (arugula, spinach, various sprouts, broccoli) and avocado; salad topped with some sort of protein: tuna, salmon, chicken, or lean beef. Washed down with a cup of green tea.

    Snack: Either a small banana with peanut butter or a meal replacement bar or drink (Myoplex, Pure Protein, etc.)

    Dinner: Various combinations of fat, protein & carbohydrate (example: whole wheat linguine with mushrooms, broccoli & artichokes in an olive oil sauce, served with chicken or lean beef or sometimes tofu/tempeh if I'm too lazy to cook something extra)*

    Snack: green apple with peanut butter or cottage cheese; depends on how much protein I had with dinner. I'll go with cottage cheese if dinner was "meatless."

    * Side note: my wife is a vegetarian, and since I do most of the cooking 80% of our dinners are vegetarian. If I'm motivated I'll pull out an extra pan and cook something for myself.

    The meals above are the framework for how I eat, but within that framework I'll move things around depending on how I'm training at the moment. If I'm in a period of high mileage or heavy training, then I'll sub out some of the protein & fat in my diet for my carbohydrate or for an evening snack I may have a bowl of cereal (or 2) instead of the standard apple & peanut butter.

    Conversely, if I'm injured & not running much (or at all) then I'll taper down on the carbohydrate and go heavier on the protein & fat.

    With all of that said I really don't pay very much attention to my diet. I look at food in terms of (a) portion size and (b) content (protein/fat/carbs), doing my best to get a good mix with each meal. I don't count calories, but I do know within 50 calories or so what I eat each day. My primary focus is on making sure that I restock my body after running & trying to make as much of that fuel high grade (i.e., whole grains) as possible.

  6. thanks for the post Nathan- very interesting stuff!

  7. I should also add that the only other thing I pay attention to (as if there wasn't enough already) is the type of carbohydrate I'm eating during the day. I go for refined "fast" carbohydrate sources (white bagels, white bread, cream of wheat, refined grains & more sugary-type foods) close to my workouts, and I opt for whole grains & "slow" carbohydrate later in the day or when I'm away from training.

    Many people get caught up in the good carbohydrate vs. bad carbohydrate debate when the truth is that there isn't good or bad - there are simply some sources that are more optimal depending on your activity level or the time of day.

    Sorry for all the rambling. If you can't tell, I'm a bit of a nutrition buff. I think that it's the "final frontier" in improving running performance and maintaining overall health.