**Disclaimer**Just my thoughts/personal experiences. I have a psychology degree. Not nutrition. Although I am currently taking an online course from Stanford called “Child Nutrition and Cooking” so my roommate and I won’t starve when we head out into the real world in a couple weeks. 🙂
I want to write about the importance of nutrition in racing because I have personally seen how it can affect someone in an extremely positive way. During my freshman and sophomore year in college, I did not care at all about what I threw into my body. I never really had to worry about it before, so I did not figure I did back then. I worked hard in triathlon and school, but I never realized that what I was eating (or not eating) was the main reason for my energy levels, grades, and athletic performance. I was a consistant 2:30-olympic-distance racer no matter how much or how little training I did.
It was not until I signed up for Ironman Wisconsin back in 2010 that I decided to look more into other variables that could affect my racing. I figured that spending $700 on an event warranted myself doing everything I could to make that race fee worth it.
I talked to the body-building coach at the Academy. I talked to crossfitters, triathletes from back home, my “hippie-Aunt” who lives in Maui…
In the end I just decided that the whole protein-loaded-diet craze was a good way to start. I replaced a lot of carbs with lean meats and protein shakes. I still continued my meals of straight chocolate and trail mix though. Just by incorporating more protein versus breads and noodles I was able to win Ironman Wisconsin and qualify for Kona. I felt significantly better each day in school and my grades skyrocketed. (relatively). I decided that my diet was what caused my success at my first Ironman, therefore I wanted to improve it even more.
I decided to try the Paleo diet in September of 2011 because it was the new thing back then. It didn’t seem too hard to follow, and after reading “The Primal Blueprint,” it had a lot of valid points. The first couple of weeks were really hard. I have an awful thing for snacks and junk food. However, after cutting it out for a while it was easy. I stocked up on chicken breast, cooked veggies, salad, and fish from the mess hall every chance I got. Luckily at USAFA we are allowed to have refrigerators in our rooms when we are juniors. I could store all these Paleo, or fresh, foods in my room in Tupperware.
I invested in Paleo and hoped it would pay off for the 2012 Collegiate National race. It did. I dropped 16 minutes off of my time from the year before, and I made it to the podium at a national race. Got my first opportunity to accept a “pro” status in the triathlon world, and I felt so driven after that race.
School-wise, I was putting in three times as many hours into triathlon, yet my grades were still rising. I never took naps during the day anymore, and I was staying awake in classes. My teachers even took notice to my good performance in classes.
Yet again, I blame my diet.
Ever since then, I have been on Paleo. I still am a big peanut and chocolate lover, but for the most part I eat all fresh foods. I have to make sure I get extra carbs in, especially at this time while I am getting back into Ironman training, but it is not too hard. It all resulted in a 3rd place finish at Kona, another podium-finish at Nationals, and my qualifying for the Air Force team with the opportunity to race in the Armed Forces Nationals on June 1st. I think my body fat has literally dropped 15% since thinking about my diet as well, if you’re interested in that benefit. Definitely all worth it.
I cannot wait to be out in the real world, out of the dorms, with my own kitchen so that I can cook my own meals and be creative. However, for now here is an example of what I like to eat on a normal day:
0445 preworkout bfast: chicken breast, almond butter
0800 post-workout bfast: coffee, banana, tuna
1100 lunch: big spinach salad with sunflower seeds, tomatoes, turkey, craisins
1400 lunch #2 (preworkout meal): salad numba 2 🙂
1800: snack, veggies + eggs
2000: pre-bed usually chocolate, trail mix, carrots…etc
Well, that was long. Thanks for reading 🙂