Saturday, 7 March 2015

London to Brighton Training: Thinking About Food and Weight: Part 1

This post was just going to be about food.
But as food is closely linked to weight, it seems sensible to reflect that link in the post.

Weight is basically what you put in, minus what you use up, minus what comes out (sweat and restroom visits!).
Food is what you put in.
Exercise is the bit you use up, and we will leave the other two to look after themselves.

More in than used up/comes out, you get heavier.
Less, and you get lighter.
See those "calories" or "kcal" numbers on food packets - that is just a standardised measure of what you put in.

But there is a bit more to it than that.
Since food is the fuel for your body, surely the quality of the fuel must count too?

Ever wondered why garages/fuel stations sell different grades of fuel?
Economy/Regular/Premium (aka "Super"), or for those of you as old as me, in the UK, it was two-star, three-star, four-star, and even five-star! (my Mum, in the early '70's even had a car that took two-star fuel!).
If you had a low-performance vehicle, it probably ran on the cheapest grade (My Mum had an Austin A30. "Relaxed" is a polite way of defining the engine power!)
Fancier, and faster, cars tended to run on the more expensive stuff.

So now look at yourself.
What are you?
A little, slow, economy person, or a "premium" person that needs the best fuel?
The thing about being a person, rather than a vehicle, is that you can take any grade of "fuel" (food), but you will "run" better on the "good" stuff.
The whole idea that the "good" stuff is better for you is why folks have diet plans, whether they be all about eating mung beans, or lean meat all the way, or anything in between. Various folks can argue about what the "good stuff" is, but we ALL know that whatever the "good" stuff is, that is what our bodies will work best on.

So, since we have all agreed that you and I deserve the "good" stuff, what is it?

As I have mentioned before, I am riding in this year's BHF London to Brighton Bike Ride.
Last year I finished the course as part of a team riding heavy three-speed bikes.
This year I will be riding my own bike, Mermaid.

Since I know (barring disasters) I can ride the event, and have some idea where the problems for me are, I expect to do a lot better this year.
The problems for me are the hills, not the distance, or the duration :-)

Hills. Hills. Hills.
What to do about that?

What if ... I were a bit fitter and a bit lighter?

Sounds like a good place to start.

From the point of view of "Heart Health", getting back down into "normal weight" by losing a few kilos is a FAR better "life" investment than staying the same weight and buying a lighter (and much more expensive) bike, even though the workload on the hills will be much the same.

You know what I am going to say next.
More fruit and veg.
Plus more exercise.

We all have our own particular tastes and desires (I have something of a penchant for Camembert cheese - you know the soft smelly one from France - indeed, if there is any such thing as a "cheese-aholic", then I could just be one!).

We also have foods we are not supposed to eat, or eat in limited quantities because of medical advice.
Indeed, I am one of those folks. I am on warfarin/Coumadin. Forever. What does it react with? Pretty much everything (!) But some things more than others.
So I have to be careful, just like some of you do.
Cranberry juice. Good for you. Cleans the blood (allegedly). But I can't have it - because my blood is deliberately being altered by the warfarin/Coumadin. The last thing I want is my blood "cleaned" :-)
Antibiotics (not me, that one), and the doctor says you have to lay off the booze.
And so on.
You know the score.

The country where I live produces health guidance for "typical" folks. I bet your country does, too.
Are you leading a typical lifestyle?
I'm not - I'm training for a bike event (!), an 87km  (54 miles), bike ride with HILLS (!)

So far, just to pick the "big things", in 2015, I have completed two 50km (about 32 mile) bike rides, one of them in hilly terrain, and two 10K (about 6 miles) training runs.
Is that the lifestyle of a typical, "sedentary" office worker, who drives to work and watches TV in the evening?
I think not.

So, since the "standard" advice doesn't seem to fit me, what should I eat?

Having addressed the issues in Part 1, I will look at what I am doing about them in Part 2

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