I recently finished Matt Fitzgerald's latest book, The Endurance Diet. I have read several of Fitzgerald's books, including 80/20 Running and Racing Weight. What I really like about Fitzgerald's style of writing is that all of his books are straight to the point and the information is presented in layman's terms.
The Endurance Diet is no different. Fitzgerald identities five key habits all runners should adopt into their diet in order to achieve better results in workouts and races, lower body fat, recover faster, and reduce risk of injury. They are:
- Eat everything - there are six basic categories of foods: vegetables; fruits; nuts, seeds, and healthy oils; unprocessed meat and seafood; whole grains, and dairy
- Eat quality - the majority of your calories should come from nutrient dense foods, and low quality foods should be consumed in moderation
- Eat carb-centered - high quality carbohydrate sources should be the base for most meals and snacks
- Eat enough - pay attention to your body's signals of hunger and satiety and let that drive the amount and timing of your meals and snacks
- Eat individually - find what works best for you - what your running partner eats before a long run might not be the best choice for you
As you can see, these are very basic, easy to follow principles. Or are they? I'm just giving my opinion here, but I think #3, eat carb-centered, can be a struggle for many given the bad reputation carbs have taken on in certain popular diet plans. Also, #4, eat enough, can be a difficult concept in terms of both under and over eating. Being a parent, I have seen firsthand the amazing inherent ability children have to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are satisfied. As they grow into adults, this ability can fade when some ignore hunger signals to achieve a lower body weight, or when they eat more than is necessary as a coping mechanism. For those who may question his thinking, Fitzgerald provides solid information to back his claims. Spoiler alert: carbs are your friend!
All five concepts are not new to endurance athletes. However, there was something about reading the book that inspired me to make some small tweaks in my diet to better adhere to these ideas, the biggest one being sneaking more vegetables into my day (Habit 2: eat quality). It's surprisingly easy to do when I have options already chopped and waiting in the refrigerator. A little pre-planning goes a long way!
What I liked most about this guide was the idea that no food is off limits. I can still have a few peanut M&M's or pieces of dark chocolate along with my vegetables and it's not going to affect my performance as a runner. Also, I like that this concept is not tied to calorie counts, grams of fat or protein, etc. I truly believe relying on your body's signals will lead you to the proper amount of calories and macronutrients.
I'm now starting a new book: Peak Performance, by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness. I listened to the authors on a podcast a few weeks ago and this sounds like a great read that I'm excited to dive into!
Tell me what you're reading right now! I'm always looking for my next book.