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March 31, 2006

weight loss

good god there are a lot of articles out there about how to lose weight.

bottomline: eat a balanced diet of 20-25% (good) fat, 60% (good) carbohydrate and 15-20% protein (depending on your activity levels, 15% for normal daily activity); expend more than you eat; and don't try to lose more than a pound a week.

does a pound a week sound like not very much? consider that it took you a lot longer than a week to put on each of those pounds. its gonna take time and patience to get them off. if you rush it you really risk making it all for naught.

since weight loss is about caloric deficits at the most fundamental level you need to consider a diet that will allow you to run caloric deficits while also maintaining energy levels. consider lower fat (but not less than 15% total calories) but don't just replace those fat calories with carbohydrate or protein.

endurance athletes need to consider the point in the season at which they're trying to lose weight; during the season it is very difficult. i usually let my weight loss come naturally at that point. the problem is that your body needs adequate nutrition to recover. start taking away calories and you really risk compromising your recovery and therefore your performance. one huge mistake riders make is trying to lose weight on the bike. don't hold back on eating on the bike (or run) for two reasons:

  1. you will reduce the calories available to your body when it needs them most. your exercise intensity and therefore caloric burn will suffer and you will burn fewer calories.
  2. you will likely be very hungry after your exercise session and be highly prone to overeating.
  3. check out these articles to for tricks and tips. it gets redundant but you'll start to see how you can incorporate the ideas into your life and get good results. check the bottom for my top 5 tips, gleaned from the articles.


    Boost Your Metabolism

    Weight Management Lifestyle Improves Health & Fitness - January 2006 (pdf)

    What 24 "Helpful Hints" increase lean muscle mass and lose extra body fat weight?

    my tips

    1. eat often, for a variety of reasons. eat every three hours, just enough to be full and hungry again in three hours but not so much that you're overfull or not ready to eat in three hours
    2. eat a good balance. don't cut out fat entirely and don't cut out carbs. focus on good fats and good carbs.
    3. avoid sugars between meals! this changes your metabolism and can defeat your balanced diet
    4. exercise more. exercise twice a day if you can. this elevates your metabolism for several hours post exercise. doing it twice a day keeps that metabolism high all the time.
    5. don't cut down on calories during exercise but rather in other meals.

nutrition and sleep

we all know that sleep is essential. who knew that nutrition had such an important role to play in sleep. these guidelines could be a bit difficult to follow strictly, but if you're having difficulty sleeping, try them out.

Certain foods may not only reverse the replenishing effects of a good night's sleep, but they may create an undesired loss of muscle mass gains. Any food high in the amino acid, tyrosine, or its derivative, tyramine, will trigger the release of norepinephrine by the adrenal glands, which induces an alert waking state. Tyrosine- and tyramine-rich foods to be avoided at the evening meal include cheeses, beer, wine, broad bean pods, chicken liver, sauerkraut, chocolate, bacon, ham, sausage, eggplant, potatoes, spinach and tomatoes.

March 24, 2006

pizza pizza!

pizza can be both easy and healthy. this recipe in fact, comes in so low in fat, i simply had to add a cheese. lots of options, so experiment.

get a fresh pizza dough. i got mine from trader joe's. whole foods has a good one too, but not hte one near my house. not sure about our local coop. top with:

  • 3/4 C pasta sauce simmered with 1.5 Ts tomato paste (available in tubes rather than cans, how handy!) and minced garlic
  • 3 slices of turkey bacon, minced and then cooked
  • thinly sliced red onion (100g)
  • thinly sliced red bell pepper (130g)

when the pizza is nearly done (about 10 minutes or so, according to the package), top with:

  • a nice fist full of spinach, chopped (or you may prefer to have a spinach salad on the side)
  • 50g (2oz) of goat cheese in small dollops (or wait and sprinkle some parmasean)

makes three 438 calorie servings:

  • fat: 10g, 20%
  • net carbs: 78g, 61%
  • fiber: 11g
  • protein: 21g, 19%

variations: skip the bacon to lose 5g of protein and make it 17% and up the net carb calories to 64%; add vegetables by making a salad with more spinach;

other topping suggestions:

  • sundried tomatoes (perhaps replacing the fat in the cheese)
  • artichoke hearts (replacing the fat in the cheese)
  • mushrooms (100g portabello or crimini has 3g protein and no fat, so a good replacement for the bacon)
  • chopped kalamata olives (cheese replacement)


check out this turkey bacon as a great option to regular pig bacon. tastes good, low fat and stores well. peppered and regular. available at your local coop or corporate store.


growing up, both my parents cooked tofu. we thought it was very strange and we hated it, although i'm not sure we ever actually ate it. now, i love it. tofu is great for the busy endurance athlete because it is cheap, keeps well (several weeks in the fridge) and packs a complete protein that meat sources don't.

it isn't always a lean protein, per se, but the fats it packs are "good" fats, coming from soy beans.

on its own tofu is rather bland, which is probably why it get a bad rap. use it in flavorful dishes and it will pick up those flavors. you can also marinate it. the key to marinating tofu is to press the water out of it. it is essentially a sponge so after you do that, it will suck up any liquids you marinate it will. to press it i take the block and put it on a plate and invert another plate over it. find something good wide and heavy and set it on top for 20 or more minutes. drain the water and add your marinate. experiment with methods and let me know what you find.

some folks don't like the tofu texture so try the different kinds. they're all good for different things.

March 23, 2006

stir fry

stirfries are a great way to get vegetables in your diet. easy to cook relatively inexpensive and oh so tasty. just about anything can go in a stir fry.

can't really give a recipe for stir fry, but rather only suggestions.

first off, use sesame oil or peanut oil. the high heat of stirfrying will burn most fats (which i guess causes them to become potentially carcinogenic). a wok (use coupon code C98835 for $10 off $75) works best but any big pan will work reasonably well for smaller amounts. cook over high med-heat and don't over cook your vegetables. the whole process should take less than 10-20 minutes. the key to this is to have everything chopped before hand and then to add them in the correct order. onions first, then garlic. broccoli next and then cabbage, snow peas, etc. the veggies should still be crisp. it can take a while to get the timing figured out.

consider rice, rice noodles, stir fry noodles or even sweet potatoes as your major carbohydrate source. stir fry noodles come prepackaged and ready to go. they can be a little on the fatty side, so pay attention. they're convenient though. i like plain old rice noodles as well. quick and easy to prepare.

chicken, pork, beef or tofu all work great as proteins but pay attention cause you can easily make a stif fry and get all your protein from the vegetables and noodles! it probably won't be complete but just be mindful over the next day or so to complete it. plug your vegetables into the recipe analysis at nutritiondata.com to see how it stacks up.

ingredient suggestions (comment with your own):

  • cabbage
  • broccoli
  • waterchestnuts (from a can)
  • baby corn (from a can)
  • bamboo shoots (from a can)
  • garbanzo beans
  • black beans
  • edamame
  • carrots
  • mushrooms (especially shitake, which you can find dried)

consider soy sauce and rice wine vinegar as flavorings in addition to the sesame oil. those make good marinades for your meat as well.

March 20, 2006


oh fat. maligned fat.

fat isn't soooo bad for you. in fact, it's essential. fat is the primary energy source for most of your activities, so if you start eliminating it, your body will fight you. in fact your body will often defeat you and "hoard" fat and you'll not lose any fat weight although your calories are restricted. amazing evolution. the result will be lower levels of lean body mass resulting in lower performance levels and general unhealth.

how much fat does one need? i think at a minimum, 15% of calories. as a maximum i've seen 20% (hammer nutrition) 25% (a dietician) and 30% (american heart association diet). i do not know how to know.

the problem with that is that per unit mass, it packs twice as many calories as carbohydrate and protein. but also, it is denser so per unit volume it is packing more mass and more calories. you see what i'm saying. one great way to make your recipes lower fat is to cook larger amounts. it takes about a half to one tablespoon of oil to saute any amount of onion. divide that between two servings and you're pressed to have any other fats. divide that among six or more and there's room.

fat sources

as far as fat sources, consider nuts and vegetables in favor of animal fats. this means use non-fat daries. for cooking, canola, olive and coconut oils (lots of medium chain fats, available at your local coop or corporate chain) are good choices. i typically bake with canola with little complaints. try it. egg yolks remain a mystery to me. i've read that some yolks are ok but not all the time. i've also seen that yolks should be avoided totally but i think the former is the better view. about half the protein of an egg is in the yolk (and i've heard that the yolks make the proteins more "bioavailable"). the yolk also contains all the vitamins, including choline, which is critical.

margarine will kill you. don't eat it.


gotta get those omegas. i take fish oil supplements but ground flax is a great source as well. must be ground. you can buy it ground or you can do it with a coffee grinder. i use flax in my oatmeal. flax can be added to any baked item as well.

more reading:

hammer's fatty acid article

how to use this site

i'd always thought that i ate a good, well balanced diet. i was short on vegetables, but otherwise i was ok. but after a year of hard training and racing i didn't lose a whole lot of weight and i thought that was strange. so i decided to start quantifying what i was eating. balance is not the word to describe what i was eating. my instincts gave me far too much protein and also a bit too much fat. my carb intake as a percentage was then too low to spark the fire to burn that excessive fat and the extra protein was probably wreaking havoc on key systems.

so, i started researching and rebuilding my recipes. the results of that effort are here. the recipes focus on being easy for working athletes, balanced (according to what i have learned) and tasty.

since changing my diet my girlfriend and i have more energy and are losing moderate amounts of fat.

the entries are broken down into categories. start off by hitting up the basic information to get an idea of where this is all based. after that, look at some of the links i've provided. next, hit up the recipes. there's an excel spreadsheet that i use. download it and see if it helps you. if you have comments or improvements, feel free to leave them as comments.


disclaimer: before changing your diet or embarking on a weightloss program, it is recommended that you consult your physician.

March 16, 2006

pleasure chili

ah yeah, a pleasure cooking classic. quick, easy all from cans!

  • in a large pot, heat 2 Ts oil of your choice
  • chop a good sized onion and saute in oil for 10 or so minutes, until becoming soft and transparent
  • add 250g 7% fat ground beef or ground turkey breast and stir around, browning
  • add crushed or minced garlic, 1 Ts ground cumin and 1 Ts chilli powder
  • after spices become fragrant, add 2 14 oz cans (drained) black or red kidney beans and 2 14 oz (or one 28 oz) cans of dice or stewed tomatoes
  • mix it all up and let it simmer, salt to taste
  • cook 2 cups rice
  • mix it all up when its all done and eat, saving some for left overs

makes six 467 calorie servings.

  • fat: 8g, 16%
  • net carbs: 85g, 64%
  • fiber: 10g
  • protein: 24g, 20%

leaves room for a little fat in the desert. gotta like that.

March 15, 2006


man, i love cereal. fast and easy. my favorite.

kashi nuggets: basically like grape nuts. good stuff. lots of whole grain goodness and all that.

kashi go lean: packed with soy protein. only $2.50 at whole foods. 8 solid servings for that price. ah yeah. throw a banana or some raisins in with milk and toast and you have a good solid breakfast. perfect for hotel rooms...

muesli: i have a recipe to make it at home at a fraction the cost (see the extended entry). basically an alternative to oatmeal. an acquired taste.

kashi nuggets: 1/2 C kashi nuggets and 1/4 C nonfat milk, 222 calories, 6% fat, 78% net carbs, 16% protein (9g). add 1 english muffin, 1 banana and 1 Ts peanut butter: 493 calories, 18% fat, 65% net carbs, 16% protein (20g).

kashi go lean: 3/4 C kashi go lean, 1/3 C nonfat milk: 130 calories: 5% fat, 57% net carbs, 37% (12g) protein; add 1 english muffin, 2 bananas and 1 Ts peanut butter: 460 calories: 18% fat, 61% net carbs, 21% (24g) protein.

homemade muesli: 1.5 parts four or seven grain cereal (find it in your bulk foods section) 1 parts slivered almonds (toast them when you get home) and 1 parts date pieces. mix it up.

1 C with 1 C milk: 488 calories, 19% fat, 63% net carbs 18% (22g) protein. add 1 piece of toast with 1 egg white and one whole egg for 674 calories: 22% fat, 57% net carbs 21% (35g) protein.

cottage cheese and fruit

cottage cheese is a great protein source (it is whey, after all) and makes a great option for travel or work as it keeps well. try this snack for high protein and low fat. a good option if you're likely to eat out at night and want to keep your fat intake minimal before hand. it is high in sugar, so reduce the raisins for less sugar and up the wheat thins for something more lasting or have some nuts.

mix up and eat:

  • 1/2-1 cup cottage cheese (provides 14 g protein per 1/2 C)
  • 1/4 C raisins
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 1 serving wheat thins (16 crackers)

makes one 387 calorie serving (1/2 C cottage cheese):

  • fat: 4g, 10%
  • net carbs: 72g, 71%
  • fiber: 3g
  • protein: 19g, 19%

one 395 calorie serving (1/2 C cottage cheese, 2 servings wheat thins, no raisins):

  • fat: 8g, 18%
  • net carbs: 64g, 61%
  • fiber: 4g
  • protein: 21g, 21%

these last two options are nearly meals although sugar content remains high:

makes one 592 calorie serving (1/2 C cottage cheese, 1Ts peanut butter):

  • fat: 12g, 22%
  • net carbs: 75g, 58%
  • fiber: 5g
  • protein: 23g, 19%

makes one 592 calorie serving (1/2 C cottage cheese, 1 Hammer Nutrition Bar, a solid mix of nut fats, whey and soy protein as well as 4 fruit servings with two just in the bar!):

  • fat: 13g, 20%
  • net carbs: 97g, 60%
  • fiber: 7g
  • protein: 29g, 19%

cheese is the enemy...

cheese is frequently touted as a great protein source. yeah, it has good protein (being the source of whey), but it typically has even more bad fats. a tragedy really, cause cheese is good. brie. yum. bleu. ah yeah.

some cheeses aren't so bad. cottage cheese for example. fat free packs 14g of high quality whey protein per 1/2 cup. it also travels well, making it ideal for snacks and even salads on the road.

jarlesburg (swiss) cheese. quite high in protein. check out the fat free varieties as a meat replacement on your sandwiches.

yogurt isn't so bad either. stick to non fat or low fat and stay away from the flavored varieties as they typically pack two or three times as much sugar as the plain. serve it up with fruit for some sweetness.

a great alternative to cheese in sandwiches is hummos (hummus). the package i have is 2g fat and 1g protein in 1 Ts, which is plenty to replace the mayo and cheese on your sandwiches. the great thing is that the fats come from sesame and garbanzo beans. baba ganouj is similar with eggplant replacing the garbanzos.

March 14, 2006

tofu custard

i found this tofu custard at a great local store, central market (that place is so full of cool asian food, i love it!). not too fatty, good protein and, well, its desert! check it out. there are other flavors too.

March 8, 2006

measuring your food

so, i measure a lot of my recipes on a scale. no, i'm not neurotic; i just don't know how much 2 oz of pasta is. do you? how about a serving of banana? meat? potatos? no clue. it also helps with dishing out portions. you don't have to use your scale obsessively, but it sure helps to establish a reference point so that you can use better judgement for cooking in the future.

check 'em out in the extended entry

i use the last one and i'm happy with it, but i'm sure the less expensive ones would work the best. most of the time that i weigh something, it is in a plate or bowl, so the size of the weighing surface is less important. also, consider that you probably want one that can tare. that is, you can weigh one ingredient, tare to zero and add another and get the weight of that one without having to do any math. my pick would be the second to last one.

Polder Deluxe Gourmet Add'N'Weigh Kitchen Scale ($20)
Polder Deluxe Gourmet Add'N'Weigh Kitchen Scale
Product features include:

  • Chrome plated with large clear plastic bowl
  • 6.6 lb. / 3 kg. Capacity
  • Large dial for easy reading

  • Polder Digital Add 'N' Weigh Scale

    Polder Digital Add 'N' Weigh Scale ($27)

    Product features include:

  • Displays in 1/8 oz. / 1 gram increments
  • 6.6 lb. / 3 kg. Capacity
  • LCD display for easy reading
  • "Add & Weigh" feature lets you weigh mulitple items consecutively without removing from scale
  • Batteries included

  • Polder LED Display Add 'N' Weigh Cook's Scale

    Polder LED Display Add 'N' Weigh Cook's Scale ($42)

    Product features include:

  • Displays in 1/8 oz. / 2 gram increments
  • LED display for easy reading
  • "Add & Weigh" feature lets you weigh mulitple items consecutively without removing from scale

  • Polder Digital Add 'N' Weigh Scale

    Polder Digital Add 'N' Weigh Scale ($37)

    Product features:

  • Capacity: 11 lb. / 5 kg.
  • Displays in 1/8 oz. / 1 gram increments
  • LCD display for easy reading
  • "Add & Weigh" feature lets you weigh mulitple items consecutively without removing from scale
  • Auto shut-off feature
  • Batteries not included

  • Salter Travel-Size Electronic Food Scale ($30)

    Salter Travel-Size Electronic Food Scale
    Serious about food intake? If you're a body builder, nutritionist, diabetic or simply keeping a sharp eye on your diet, this scale is designed for you. It measures in increments as low as .005 ounces and comes in handy for small ingredients and portions - in fact, it's compact enough to travel with you! The gray weighing tray inverts as a cover when not in use. Take it on the road, to the office or wherever you need to weigh up to 8 ounces of food. Accurate LCD readout.
    Salter Microtronic Electronic Kitchen Scale

    Salter Microtronic Electronic Kitchen Scale ($45)

    Salter Microtronic Electronic Kitchen Scale. This convenient electronic scale features a dishwasher safe, removable hygienic stainless steel cover, making clean-up a breeze. Also loaded with great features.

    Features include:

    • hygienic stainless steel platform-resistant to staining and flavor carry-over
    • weigh directly onto platform or use with a bowl
    • automatically adjusts for use with most bowls or containers
    • LCD display: 10mm / 0.4" digits, easy to read
    • add & weigh facility
    • kg / lb conversion switch
    • auto zero / auto shut-off
    • Metric Precision: 0 - 1kg x 1g, 1kg - 2kg x 2g
    • English Precision: 5lb x 1/8oz
    • Battery: CR2032
    • 10 Year Guarantee
    • Excludes batteries

    Capacity: 5 lb/2 kg
    Materials: Stainless steel
    Manufacturer No.: 2006

    Salter Aquatronic Electronic Kitchen Scale

    Salter Aquatronic Electronic Kitchen Scale ($60)

    Salter Aquatronic Electronic Kitchen Scale. Known as the "Baker's Dream" the Aquatronic scale is designed to weight both dry and liquid ingredients. A very convenient feature for bakers, and anyone else using both types of ingredients frequently and at the same time.

    Features include:

    • weigh directly onto platform or use with a bowl
    • automatically adjusts for use with most bowls or containers
    • Large angled LCD display: 15mm / 0.6" digits, easy to read
    • add & weigh facility
    • converts between kg/lb and ml/fl oz.
    • auto zero / auto shut-off
    • liquid Precision: 5000ml x 5ml, 175fl.oz x ¼fl.oz
    • dry Precision: 5kg x 5g, 11lb x ¼oz
    • Battery: CR2032
    • 10 Year Guarantee
    • Excludes batteries

    Capacity: 11 lb/5 kg
    Materials: Plastic
    Manufacturer No.: 3007

    Salter 11-lb. Aquatronic Kitchen Scale

    Salter 11-lb. Aquatronic Kitchen Scale

    With the latest technological advances, this digital Aquatronic scale allows you to measure ingredients directly onto the platform or using a bowl or container of your choice. A simple press of a button lets you measure either liquid or dry ingredients. The slim design features a glass platform that is entirely hygienic and resistant to staining. A polished, stainless base completes its good looks. Sensitive to 1/8 of an ounce, it has a capacity of 11 pounds. Also offers zero function. Gives readings in U.S. or metric measurements.


    ah yeah, i love hashbrowns. quick, easy.

    • chop up half a bunch of collards. separate the stems and put them in a pot with a scant bit of olive oil over low heat and let them steam (with the extra water from washing them)
    • grate 200g of potato (i used one about the size of my fist, 205g. squeeze the extra water out of the grated potato
    • dice or grate onion (or shallots)
    • mix onion and potato with salt and pepper to taste
    • mist a skillet with oil and add the potato and onion mixture, spreading out evenly. cook over low-ish heat, flipping at some point. i have no idea how long
    • when the potatos are about half way done, add the leaves of the collards to the stems
    • when it is all done, fix up 2 egg whites and one whole egg

    have two medium sized bananas on the side w/ a bit of peanut butter. serve it up and enjoy! collards probably need some salt

    makes one 379 calorie serving

    • fat: 5g, 12%
    • net carbs: 61g, 64%
    • fiber: 15g
    • protein: 23g, 24%

    variations: reduce the number of egg whites for lower protein days.

    March 7, 2006

    pre-race meal

    pre-race (and pre-ride) meals are very important. but, there's a lot of misunderstanding about what the role of the pre-race meal is. it isn't what your body is going to burn in the race. you ate all that the day before. what you're really doing is topping off the somewhat depleted liver glycogen stores that you used while you were asleep. so, if you race early and don't want to get up super early, don't. just make sure that you eat some "race food" before the race. i recommend perpetuem or a mixture of heed and soy protein (do not use whey!). if you race later, the meal tops off that glycogen and fuels you until you start racing, so that you can start with a topped off (but not overflowing) tank.

    the reasons for the three hour window:

    hormones: digesting food makes us sleepy. i vaguely remember from my endocrinology class oh so long ago that eating sets off all sorts of hormonal changes. insulin is the most talked about but there are others. eat too close to a race or ride and your body and mind will feel sluggish and slow. that's bad.

    blood: on a full stomach your body will focus on digesting food. that means sending lots of blood to your abdomen and not to your legs. i've noticed this a number of times lately. after eating a rather large meal and going out to train it took a long time to get to where i felt like i could really work and i think this was largely due to the fact that i couldn't get adequate blood supply to my legs.

    the key to this strategy is that you eat adequately while you ride. if you typically start racing and training with food in your stomach you can put off eating ride food because you're still getting at that food in your stomach. however, if you've done it properly, your stomach is nearly empty (which is what you want) and you'll fuel yourself properly from there on. any food in your stomach when you start riding is essentially ride food. is your breakfast really want you want for ride food?

    don't believe that you can race with out eating a true meal? i raced the 120 mile national championships with a pre-race meal of 2 scoops of heed and half a scoop of soy protein. i felt great. everybody swore i'd bonk. and i got an additional two hours of sleep.

    dr misner's bottom line suggestion:

    Sports nutrition expert Bill Misner, Ph.D., advises a pre-race meal should be “an easily digested high complex carbohydrate meal of between 200 – 400 calories with a minimum of fiber, simple sugar, and fat.” According to Dr. Misner, fat slows digestion and has no positive influence on fuels metabolized during an event. He further states that a pre-race meal that is high in fiber may “create the call for an unscheduled and undesirable bathroom break in the middle or near the end of the event.”

    i personally don't mind lots of fiber in my pre-race meal. i typically eat a lot of fiber so sticking to that (with a cup of coffee) really cleans me out before the race (i've never had the problem they describe). no better way to reach race weight!

    March 2, 2006

    tofu scramble

    for this recipe, i used exra firm tofu from whole foods. i haven't compared other types of tofu. seems to work well.

    • cut into 1/2 inch rounds about 400g of yam and then quarter those. boil until soft and then drain.
    • mash up 4 servings of extra firm tofu (about 320 g of mine) in a large pan and heat on low-medium (get it to sizzle a bit
    • add 1/2 cup or so diced onions and as much garlic as you like. i did 3 cloves
    • rinse and cut the stems out of a bunch of collards. cut stems to edible portions and add to tofu
    • spice up that tofu. i suggest paprika, curry, cayenne, red chili flakes, black pepper, oregano or anything you'd put in eggs.
    • mix, stir, cook until onions are soft.
    • cut collard leaves into edible portions and add to tofu along with boiled yams.
    • cook until collards are just soft enough to eat (don't over cook)
    • serve with two pieces of plain toast
    • consider serving with a hot sauce of your choice

    this recipe makes four 401 calorie servings:

    • 7g fat, 16%;

    • 67 gram net carb, 67%;

    • 10g fiber

    • 18g protein, 18% (12g soy protein)

    quite low in fat. "normal" people, looking to follow the AHA diet, could use some olive oil to saute the onions first. for big endurance days, athletes might consider the same. good way to start the day in any case.

    good additions: tomatoes, any potato substitution, perhaps cereal instead of toast? check it out.