For the past few weeks, I’ve been reading a book called Racing Weight: How to Get Lean for Peak Performance by Matt Fitzgerald. My “blend,” Mike from 26.2ismycooldown sent it to me b/c he thinks that it will help my next racing season. Plus, he is an all-around supportive fellow blogger AND he knows his triathlon stuff. Thanks Mike, for this great book.
I was tossing the idea of reviewing this book on the blog back and forth because of some recent blog posts sparking intense negativity on both sides of the “weight loss” issue. Weight is a “touchy subject” for some people. I finally decided to post because this is MY blog, and I welcome comments whether you agree with me or not. However, if I get nasty ones, they will just get deleted. I want to talk about this issue as an adult with adult readers. There is a constructive and polite way to disagree with someone. It is sad that I have to start off my post with saying that, but due the commenting behavior on other blogs, I felt it was necessary.
Now, for the good stuff. Racing Weight talks about the average weights and body fat percentages of Pro Athletes, and what a person would need to do to get to those numbers. Fitzgerald talks about how athletes are most “efficient” at these body weights/body compositions.
Things I Liked:
- Fitzgerald did great job at explaining the studies aka science behind each and every one of his suggestions. And he wasn’t touting his way as the ONLY way. I love this because it makes you feel like YOU are making the nutritional decisions based on facts (and some negating studies too) that he provided for you. You just need to include a certain number of proteins, veggies, fruits, whole grains, etc in a more general way than lets say if you were to read a book on The Zone Diet or Paleo Diet where they insist their way of eating is the ONLY way to eat. I swear, after reading In The Defense of Food I no longer have patience for Fad Diets. If you are a vegetarian though, you might me disappointed. I will cover this later.
- He talked about nutrient timing without dumbing it down or beating a dead horse about the subject. If you are unfamiliar with nutrient timing, it is all about when/what you should eat before/during/after a workout.
- He included a section in the book highlighting a day of eats of pro athletes including Chrissie Wellington, Ryan Hall, and more. He also pointed out that all of their diets were different. And that what may work for others, may not work for the reader.
- He covered a broad range of topics such as: how to determine your optimal performance weight, tracking your progress, seasonal considerations (you don’t have to be as lean as you are for racing season year around), managing appetites, even a guide to supplements “if you are interested.”
- He said something very interesting about marathon training as well. He said that you shouldn’t gain weight when you are marathon training. A lot of bloggers say that they gained weight when marathon training, but I never did (I didn’t lose any weight either) and thought it was odd. This sort of explains it. Fitzgerald said that sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between overindulging and the fact that you body really needs the calories. Just something to think about.
- This book is not only for someone with my stats. Anyone can apply these principles to lose weight and/or get to the body composition that you want.
Things I Didn’t Like:
- I didn’t like how one of his rules is to eat animal protein. Although I’m not a vegetarian, I only eat meat once or twice a week. It would have been nice if he had some vegetarian/vegan protein suggestions.
- This leads me to the abundance of dairy products in the recipes in the back of the book. I’m lactose intolerant. Hmmm. ;(
Despite the few things that I didn’t like, I really enjoyed this book. It was well written and well defended with actual studies.
How am I going to apply this book to MY life?
I want this next racing season to be the best it has ever been. I am at a weight right now that I’m happy with. However, I know that my body composition has changed since the end of last racing season. Let just say that the abundance of fatty and sugary foods did not help me maintain my muscle mass. The efficiency just isn’t where it was just a few months ago, and trust me, I can feel it!!
The book states that the average successful female triathlete is 12-16% body fat. When I had my body fat percentage tested last year during the racing season, it was 18% without eating any differently than I normally do or trying to “cut” certain things from my diet. My goal for this next year is to get down to 16% body fat. I don’t think this is a crazy goal since since it is just 2% off of what I was last year (and by the way, last year was my best racing season EVER). Please don’t compare your numbers to mine either, okay. 😉
I know that I’m good in the protein, grains, and veggy department, but I totally lack in the fruit department. Sweets are my weakness, and if I could have 10 peanut butter chocolate chip cookies every night before bed (I’m not saying that I actually do this), I would. I don’t normally opt for fruit because, honestly, I would rather have a cookie. So, I’m sure that by substituting fruit instead of cookies several times a week (not every time though), I should have no problem meeting this goal especially with the workload associated with my Ironman training.
Well, there you go. My nutritional plan for the next racing season. It isn’t that precise, and it isn’t that restricting, which is just the way I like it.
Let me just also add that I’m very comfortable in my own clothes, and that this isn’t to “look better” naked or to lose weight. Although, if that is your goal at the moment there is nothing wrong with that. I don’t care if I end up gaining weight when this is done. I just want my body to work for me while I’m out there racing for hours. Would you want to carry an extra 5-10 pounds (or more) of body fat during a multi hour race if you didn’t have to? I didn’t think so.
And if you think I’m still a psycho for wanting to lean up: READ this post!
Now, what are your thoughts on this book? For those of you who race out there: do you ever think about how much faster you would be if you took an honest look at your body composition?