Yet another marathon recap, this time about my favorite subject: food! I forgot to link to my guest-blog for Running at Disney, covering what I ate before and after the race. Head over and check it out.
As I finish training for my first marathon, and as my need for weight loss slows down, my big struggle is figuring out how to fuel for long distances without gaining weight. I wanted to read The Feed Zone Cookbook: Fast and Flavorful Food for Athletes because I wanted to know real athletes do it. I know I’m nowhere near a professional cyclist or a marathoner, but that doesn’t mean I can’t learn from their tricks. Plus, the book is written by a sports physiologist/cycling coach and professional chef duo (Biju Thomas and Dr. Allen Lim), which is a bangin combination for a nutrition cookbook. Lucky for me, the publishers gave me a copy to review.
The cookbook has sections that suggest what to eat before, during, and after endurance activities, as well as some treats. There are many grab-and-go recipes that you can prep beforehand so that you have a nutritious breakfast or fuel on the go. Things like a waffle sandwich, burritos, savory muffins, and the popular rice cakes are all things I can have ready in your freezer for early morning race days.
Each recipe also has the basic nutritional breakdown. Since this is a cookbook for athletes, these recipes are not necessarily for people looking to lose weight. The dinner recipes come in at around 700+ calories; not exactly diet foods. If you are an experienced dieter, it wouldn’t be hard to adjust your portion sizes or the amount of carbs to make it fit your diet. I can incorporate the dinner recipes into rest days or short workout days by simply reducing/removing the rice and potatoes. I love that the recipes are totally in line with how I try eat normally – fresh, whole, unprocessed foods, veg-friendly, small amounts of meat. Another thing I like is that the meals are written for 2 servings. It works out perfectly for my house of two.
The recipes themselves have a lot of variety. It isn’t just brown rice, salmon, and broccoli every day. Since the recipes are meant to be fast and easy, I looked at some of them and wondered why I had never thought to put together these simple combinations of ingredients or put them in a different context. For example, eggs and rice were a standard “instant” meal for me growing up and here they appear as an easy to make, easy to digest athlete breakfast. Another “a-ha” is making mini frittatas bulked up with rice or potatoes right in with the egg to make it a small calorie-dense meal perfect for hiking, backpacking, or ultramarathons. The dinner recipes are real, normal food that are full of flavor, easy to make, and low in fat. Some recipes that I bookmarked to make: chicken tacos, veggie burgers (yes, from scratch!), wine and soy mushrooms, grilled chicken skewers with orzo, and spiced bison.
I have already made three recipes:
Pasta Salad with Blue Cheese and Nuts, eaten for dinner the day before the 20-miler:
Added to the pasta is chicken from the Whole Roasted Chicken recipe. I am terrible at roasting whole chickens and I only do it a couple of times per year. Brian was in charge of the chicken this time and it came out perfect. He decided that we need to do this more often. Ooh look – the chicken is also a free recipe / (text version). The chicken and pasta meal was so good that we made it twice.
When I read Feed Zone Portables: A Cookbook of On-the-Go Food for Athletes, I wondered why the recipes often used rice instead of bread. For example, why make a jelly “sandwich” out of rice cakes instead of just putting jelly between two slices of bread? It turns out that my question was answered in the intro of the first book. The authors spent a season cooking for a cycling team that decided to go gluten-free that year. They already developed many gluten-free recipes during that season and included them in this book. The chefs also had anecdotal evidence from professional championships and the Tour de France, where some athletes had positive results going gluten-free. That said, the authors are honest about the fact that they don’t advocate one type of diet over another. They just point out that gluten-free works well for many athletes while other athletes don’t like it at all. I appreciate these options because, I have noticed that when I started to “carb up” in prep for long runs, I felt bloated from the excess breads. I have been feeling much better now that I’m using rice as a primary carb source. I have cut back on rice in my everyday diet and being Asian, I miss it. At least there is room for it when I’m distance running 🙂
I also followed their advice which said that a slow moving athlete doesn’t need as many carbs as the blanket information given to athletes. I was told that with a long run pace of 13:00+/mile, I don’t have to worry as much about finding quick starches to digest because I’m burning a lot of fat. In practice, I have cut down on the fueling during these long runs and my times haven’t suffered. I used to take Clif blocks for things longer than 6 miles; generally one serving (100 Cal) for every 3 miles. For a half marathon distance, I used to eat 400 calories of Clif blocks (pure sugar) but now I would just take one or two servings (200 Cal total) of a Feed Zone Portable recipe. I think I need to experiment longer to know for sure how this works.
I assumed that this book was written for a “real” athlete, not a slow novice like myself. Whether that’s true or not, I learned a ton of new information about what the body needs to go hard. I feel like I’ve been “dieting” for so long that this book helped me see how I can continue to eat while not being on a diet. This book is so valuable for any athlete – from beginner to advanced; even if you’re like me and don’t consider yourself an athlete.
Check out the Feed Zone Cookbook’s free recipes here
Check out Dr. Allen Lim’s Ted Talk
When I started my half marathon training, I read about needing to fuel during the long runs, and that meant using Gatorade, gels, and gummies. This went against everything I had spent years building up to: from focusing on whole, natural, unprocessed foods to taking these completely fake engineered foods. As a chronic researcher, I read tons of books and articles about starting to run, and all of them talked about using these foods. I couldn’t find anyone who talked about natural foods during running, so I caved.
Finally, 1.5 years into my distance training, I discovered Feed Zone Portables. Dr. Allen Lim and chef Biju Thomas developed whole and wholesome recipes to replace energy bars. Even before I received my copy of the book, I was hooked on the idea. The authors primarily served pro cyclists, which is reflected in the information and recipes presented, however they do include some information for runners. One of the issues though is that eating these foods while cycling is still easier than eating on the run. I’ll keep reporting on how they hold up for running as I work my way through the book.
Keep reading for how my first recipe performed!
I took it easy and stayed home this weekend which meant a special trip to the Saturday farmer’s market. I love Saturday markets but I never get to go because I go to my mom’s every other weekend, and when I am home I usually try to work an overtime shift. I went a little veggie crazy, considering I just picked up a share a few days before.
- radishes, too pretty to pass up
- rainbow chard
- apples, which I already made into apple butter
- apples to make apple cake
- carrots for snacking
- sweet potatoes
One of our goals has been to keep cut up celery & carrots in the fridge for snacking to keep from unhealthy things. It’s also helpful having them ready to throw in my lunch bag. I will pack them with two tablespoons of hummus or one tablespoon of almond butter and I haven’t gotten sick of it yet. Knowing that I have those to eat has surprisingly cut down on my afternoon junk-seeking. It’s been maybe 3 or 4 weeks straight of having the veggie snacks and I’m surprised it’s lasted this long. I’m not turning orange yet either. What other vegetables can you use?
P.S. Five days until half marathon #3! I had an awesome run today and did a “Magic Mile” test and got my best non-race mile time! Finally got under 11 minutes. Now I just have to take it easy for my last couple workouts until Sunday.
The fun of having a farmshare is of course, the surprises. When the season started, I assumed something like July would be the peak bounty but we didn’t have a lot of hot weather. The farmer said that the tons of rain at the beginning of the season slowed the crops. Now we are at the end of September when things are supposed to slow down but we are getting the most vegetables.
This week, we’ve got:
- white eggplant
- pattypan squash
- some weird, spiky, mystery herb?
- bell peppers
- one scotch bonnet pepper?
The only thing I missed this week was the lettuce mix. It was the first time all season I didn’t get lettuce!