As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m changing the way I eat to incorporate more calories first and foremost and more fat. My aim is to gain a bit of weight and go from there. I like to think of it as aiming to achieve my “Warrior Body”.
What do I mean by that? Basically I want a body that is healthy, fit and strong. Though I don’t necessarily feel unhealthy or particularly weak (I may look small, but I’m feisty!) I know that I’m not entirely functioning the way I should be and I’m definitely not refuelling properly after running.
I used My Fitness Pal to track a typical weekday’s worth of food on a day I run, including all my snacks and meals (I’m a creature of habit and in general only my dinner and snacks change – I know, I know, I’m so boring). Since becoming more healthy and in a friendly place with food I haven’t tracked calories or macros. I eat what I want and when I’m hungry. Generally this was quite healthy, leaving my cake indulgences and meals out for the weekend. I was quite shocked that my calories were far less than I thought – not even taking into account that I was also running. I was even more shocked that I barely ate any fat.
This was a huge eye opener. I don’t want to become dependent on My Fitness Pal or become obsessed with numbers and macros but for the moment it’s a really useful tool to help me see the areas I need to improve on, especially when I’ve been running.
Breakfast for me will always be porridge (oatmeal). I’ve had this breakfast for years and just find nothing else really fills me up quite the same. And the process of making it is so simple in the morning with minimal faff. This is oats, chia seeds and semi-skimmed goat’s milk. Originally I had unsweetened almond milk which I loved, but it was low in calories, protein and fat. I switched to semi-skimmed cow’s milk but after a few of you pointed out cow’s milk wasn’t that good an option because of the acidity levels I found goat’s milk might be a better after doing some research.
It tastes almost identical to cow’s milk, though the smell does confuse me as it smells slightly of goat’s cheese (I imagine goat’s cheese actually just smells of goat’s milk, but I’ve never had the milk before!).
This hasn’t changed a great deal because I really enjoy my lunch and again it’s easy to make and very cheap. I have a tuna salad, home-popped popcorn (with salt & pepper) and full-fat Greek yogurt with berries. I used to have 0% fat Greek yogurt. Why have I never done this before? Full-fat is vastly better than 0% in taste and texture. So creamy and delicious! Lots of protein and fat.
The afternoon is where I tend to do most of my snacking as the time period lunch and dinner is so long. I used to have two ‘light’ Babybels, some pistachio nuts or something from my Graze box. Now I have two full-fat cheddar Babybels and a handful of pistachios.
It’s funny though because before I’d be needing a snack, but now not so much and these snacks tend to really fill me up. Both the cheese and the nuts provide good healthy fats, protein, calcium and antioxidants.
A bit later on I’ll have a banana and a handful of almonds. Originally I had an apple and a banana but seen as how I’ll have apples later in the evening and almonds are more calorie and nutrient rich I’ve switched. This is not a good swap in my eyes. I much prefer the apple. I could have both but I’m honestly feeling fairly full by this point!
If I’m running straight from work (usually 4-6 miles) I’ll make sure I have a post-run snack. Usually I would have held on until I got home – which by the time I’ve driven home and walked Alfie and then made dinner it could be past 8pm which is more than two hours later.
I’ve picked up a few of the Upbeat drinks (I did a review on them a while ago) which help keep me topped up until I get something proper. I’ve also recently just bought some soy protein powder to be more cost effective (and not from cow’s milk).
Dinner I think previously was fine. I get my meals from Hello Fresh (again, here’s my review – and a referral code if you want £20 off –> ZVUM4A) and they’re very balanced and filling, always around 500-700 calories. Nothing really has changed there apart from consistently eating half an avocado alongside it. This can be a bit of a random combination sometimes but needs must! Good source of healthy fats and a boost of calories within quite a small amount of food.
Basically I’m squeezing in calories and healthy fats where I can! I won’t continue this forever as it’s expensive and very filling!
When I’m not munching on Hello Fresh (it serves six of my weekly meals) I’ll try and still aim for food that will cover my bases. As I’ve said many times, tinned salmon is a great source of healthy fats and is delicious in salads and omelettes. I also do a lot of roasting vegetables (and fry everything) in coconut oil.
If you’ve never tried roasted vegetables with coconut oil, get to it as it is seriously good.
When I was at my parent’s house the other weekend they gave me a pork tenderloin that they couldn’t eat (a Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference one no less!). So I fried it in coconut oil with some red onion, then got some full-fat cream cheese, mustard powder and paprika and made a delicious sauce to go with it. Alongside that I roasted some sweet potato wedges and served with broccoli (good calcium source).
It absolutely rocked my world.
I still have my couple of apples for dessert and a packet of Snack a Jacks with a hot chocolate. These things I cannot give up. They’re my creature comforts. This is purely about enjoyment and habit!
The changes have made a good impact to my calories for the day and especially my fat levels. What’s also interesting is that my satiety levels are better after meals. It’s not that I used to be hungry in between meals per se, it’s just that I’d be more ‘ready’ for my snacks. Whereas now I need to remind myself to have my snacks as I’m not really hungry when it comes to dinner.
I can’t say much progress has really be made this early in the game. Shockingly I haven’t ballooned to a beach ball yet 😉 The hard parts are still to come with my long run days…
I’m a realist and know that the likelihood is that things aren’t likely to, er, get going while I’m marathon training. But every little helps at this stage and once the marathon gets done I can drop the long runs and focus more on nourishing my body without overly stressing it. But hey, who knows I could fall over with a stress fracture before then anyway! 😉
(I’m being light hearted because I find this subject quite daunting. I don’t mean to offend anyone with being facetious).
If you’re in a similar boat or need to refuel better but struggle with the sheer volume of eating more, then aim for calorie dense foods like peanut butter (I’m not personally a fan – shocking I know), nuts, avocados, oils (such an easy way to increase calories that you barely notice), full-fat cheese and protein powder. Drinking your calories is a hell of a lot easier than eating as well – especially after long runs when you really don’t fancy it. Basically, blend up a slice of cake and drink it… I am of course joking (but seriously need to try this) but blending up nuts, protein powder and peanut butter are really easy ways of getting more nutrients into your body without making your stomach feel uncomfortable and bloated.
Do you struggle to refuel your body after exercise?
What are your fail-safe healthy choices for snacks?
Do you eat enough fat?