A Healthy Diet

Eat as much as you like of the following:
Meat, fish, sea food
Salad veggies
Non starchy veggies

Eat the following in moderation:
Starchy vegetables
Cheese, full fat dairy
(here it is worth checking whether you have lactose intolerance. The best way to check this is to COMPLETELY remove it from your diet for a couple of weeks and see how you feel)

Completely avoid the following:
All grain based products (bread, cereals)
All processed foods.
( This is processed in the broadest sense. It also means you exclude anything with refined sugar in it )
Rice, pasta
Trans fats

What do I do ?
The above I have no doubt is really healthy and most of the time I try to follow it. Where I am slightly different is:
I eat a lot of dairy
Occasionally I will have bread / muffins / scones
(Very) rarely I have pasta, rice, cereals.
I eat chocolate – normally during training but sometimes at the cinema ;o)

Why do I include such ‘unhealthy’ items ? I’ve found that though being very strict certainly works to make you incredibly lean I found that being so strict when I broke I broke big time. Like a stick that doesn’t bend it snaps more easily. Diet isn’t something you just do for a month or so ( in contrast to what the media implies) it is something for life. The changes required aren’t temporary they permanent. By including some ‘off diet’ items it makes maintaining an overall healthier diet a lot easier.

Moving from a typical low fat diet to this can be tough in the initial phases as you experience extreme sugar cravings. These do disappear after a spell but be warned, they come back with a vengeance if you slip back to high carb eating. I know, I’ve done it numerous times and still slip back on a regular basis.

Jo gave a great summary of this approach and how to incorporate it in your life. She puts it far better than me and has kindly let me quote her:

“I can summarize the eating philosophy that I used to lose body fat and sustain training volume ( but not intensity) as cutting out all refined, or processed carbs. Cakes, sweets, chocolate, fizzy drinks, pastry, bread, pasta, chips and beer are the obvious no-no’s – but also rice, potatoes, anything with added sugar (that is a lot of stuff, check labels!!) The hole in your calorific intake left by these energy dense but nutritionally worthless foods will be filled by lots of green vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, dairy and nuts – i.e. mostly protein and fat, with plenty of anti-oxidants and micro nutrients from the veg.

Your carbohydrate requirements for training will be met by fruit and veg; there are a lot of carbs in bananas, dried fruit, starchy veg, and fruit in general. It’s quite easy to find out which fruits and veg contain the most sugars ( carbs) and are therefore good energy foods for post workout recovery, and which contain less and can be eaten in more or less limitless amounts the rest of the time.

Once you are rid of the sugar cravings that you are sure to experience initially, the hardest part of maintaining this diet is convenience. You’ll see what I mean when you stop at a garage on a ride, or even go out of the office to buy your lunch! Most of the stuff that is cheap and readily available to grab and go, is off limits. I hope you like peanuts! Steven eats a lot o pork scratchings and biltong on rides, which you can pick up at most newsagents and petrol stations too. You may find it hard to convince your riding buddies of his but one of the best feed stops on a ride is in a greasy spoon caff! A cooked breakfast is very low carb if you hold the chips and toast, and most places will do omelets if the grease doesn’t appeal- again get them to hold the chips and chuck in an extra egg or salad instead.

On a daily basis you need to be organized – you can’t rely on sandwiches for lunch! If there is somewhere near you office that does good sized salads, and you can afford it, that’ s great. If your office has a fridge where you can keep your own fruits and lunch-box that is even better. I used to keep at least 2 days worth of food in our office fridge so that if I would not have to bring packed lunch every single day and never got the ‘munchies’ driving me out to the garage for naughty snacks.

It may all sound like a real hassle, and will take some adjusting to – but once you get into the habit, you will get used to it. You will also be seeing the benefits quite quickly, which will help motivate you. After a few weeks of it I honestly never even fancied eating anything sweet or pastry. After my races I’d feel that I SHOULD treat myself, so I would …and then my sweet tooth always comes creeping back.

Be as good as you can – 100% is unrealistic, but the closer the better.

p.s – if you like chillies, good news: