Eating To My Metabolism - Revisited

Somewhere along the way, it seems like counting calories became a bad thing. At times I have felt guilty and embarrassed because I do so. Why do people who look down on this practice care? To each their own. It may not be something that works for everyone, but it works for me. Last Fall I participated in a study at San Jose State called “An Assessment of Nutrition and Feeding Practices of Adult Female Marathoners.”

Runners World had tweeted a link to it and when I saw that it was with a local university, I inquired about joining the study. I had to complete a questionnaire to see if I qualified for the study, and I did.

For two weeks I had to keep a food diary recording every single thing I ate, and every workout I completed.

At the time I wasn't counting calories, but was loosely keeping a food journal to make sure that I was eating sufficiently while training for the New York Marathon. I thought I was eating pretty healthily and wasn't too concerned about total calorie intake because, you know, I was in marathon training and I needed as much fuel as I could get for all that training.

Three months later I received the results from the study and it was eye opening.

I learned that my average daily caloric intake was substantially higher than recommended for my activity level. I was eating 700+ more calories per day than I needed to, even while marathon training.

No wonder I always gain weight during marathon training...

The study also told me that:

+ I had to reduce my intake of carbs, protein, fat and sodium. + While I ate many healthy whole foods, but I was also eating some very calorie-dense food. + I ate a lot of vegetables, but not enough fruit. + My iron levels were very good. + I was deficient in biotin, potassium, and calcium.

Now that I'm in a new marathon training cycle for the San Francisco Marathon, I want to do better with my nutrition this time. I started using My Fitness Pal again in January and unlike other training cycles, plan to continue using it through this period of marathon training.

I also got a Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) test last week.

An RMR test calculates how many calories your body burns by doing "lifestyle activities" like working, eating, walking, driving, etc. It also calculates how many calories your body burns by doing moderate exercise. Then it calculates caloric zones giving you guidelines on how many calories to eat to maintain weight and lose weight. It also gives you a zone, which you should only stay in if you are medically supervised.

This is a good link that explains more about the test itself.

All of this is designed to teach you how to eat to your metabolism. Not another person's metabolism. Not what a generic diet plan says. It tells you what is right for your individual body right now. I've had an RMR test done a few times, but it's been a couple of years. It was very useful in helping me maintain perspective on my diet. I'm a person with an addictive personality who loves food, so when I find something that I really love; I tend to go excessively overboard with it. Thank goodness my current obsession is Brussels sprouts. No one ever died from eating too much BS right? {I kid...} :)

We all set marathon goal times, but I also like to set other goals, especially during a training cycle. Eating healthy foods that will fuel my workouts, in amounts that are sufficient to my metabolism is one goal that I have right now. Hopefully I will be able to stay on track with it so that I can maintain an ideal race weight and achieve the race goals I set for myself.

Fortunately for me, I've found that changes I've had to make weren't significant, once again proving that little changes can amount to big benefits.