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A Liberating Nutritional Program for Athletes (Diet Exercise Weight Loss)

eebee's picture

I hesitate to use the four-letter word 'diet' here, as that connotates restriction, sacrifice and misery. I also hesitate to call myself an athlete! However, in this bodyweight equation and given the unusually high number of skate-training hours, let the athlete = EB.

Counting calories just does my brain in, and much like cash, I can't be trusted with an available 1,800 a day without blowing the whole lot before 10 o'clock in the morning. So since earlier this year I have been bursting to share this gem of a habit I learned successfully and easily - a bragging right typically reserved only for nailbiting or knuckle-popping.

Let me be so bold as to say that on this program: I get sufficient food-energy each day to fuel a 4 month, 87-mile event A2A training program, and not gain weight; It is at once flexible and structured; I can choose to carbo-load before training, or to bonk on purpose; There's no counting involved, just 2 inches of planner page at most and about 60 seconds of note-taking per day; I have either a steady weight-loss or manageable weight-maintenance; And the biggest kick of all - I get sufficient doses of all food groups, including junk, plus - gasp - vegetables! This last point is important because I do not naturally gravitate towards eating greens. They're bore me.

Did I devise this plan for myself? Heck no, but it fits perfectly to my schedule and most importantly, energy and nutrition needs. Beth Sonnenburg, Sheri Barke and Muscle & Fitness Hers Magazine get all the credit (thank you! thank you!). A few years ago I was subscribed to this Joe Weider monthly publication, which to my dismay was discontinued in 2004. It was primarily geared towards the female 'body builder' type athlete, with many helpful articles for the triathlete or ultra-marathoner. Guys - don't let gender dissuade you from reading further! You can surely adapt the below diet suggestions to fit your needs, too. This was the only monthly women's resource I had found that contained sane and useful articles pertaining to women who do more than 30 mins walking a day or 3 gym-trips a week. You won't find any 1,000 calories a day diets in this magazine. I kept all my copies and went rifling through them a while back in search of a nutritional program with some meat on its bones, that could keep the pace with 4x800 calorie-burning sessions during the week and one or two 2,000+ calorie-burning sessions on the weekends.

My goal was to eat just the right amount and types of food to be as lean and fit as I could manage with my present schedule. This translates to losing 5-10 lbs of fat, whilst being able to build muscle, and most importantly, not to gain weight as a result of a fuel-deprived scarfing frenzy. Sure, training 4 months for an 87 mile skate event will burn serious calories. However, for me this doesn't mean a hill of jellybeans if I don't stave off ravenous hunger with sensible portions first. At that point, hunger pangs become harpoons jabbing in my brain and gut, and the next thing I know I regain consciousness in a sea of purple Cadbury's wrappers. So building A2A hill-climbing muscle is good for overall speed as long as you don't proportionately pile on even more pounds to schlep all the way to the Atlanta finish line.

I have lost weight pre-A2A in the past few years due to illness. I don't want that to happen again. Muscle- and hair-loss are not desirable effects!

Here is a copy of the article, on line, unfortunately minus the pretty pictures of the food (and thankfully also minus the annoying pictures of the models :-)).


  • Carbs: 6 portions of 80 calories' worth per day
  • Protein: 4 portions of 100 calories' worth per day
  • Fruit: 3 servings of 60 calories' worth per day
  • Veg: 6 servings of 25 calories' worth per day
  • Treat: 3 servings of 100 calories' worth per day

I actually end up consuming more calories, if we have to bring those into it, by having milk in my English Tea and vanilla soy milk in my Stash decaf vanilla chai, which I don't count and don't worry about. 

About 12 hours after doing a 3+ hour training skate or event, I definitely prepare to up the carb, protein & treat categories and I don't worry about going over any amount at all. As soon as one welcomes loved ones into one's controlled perfection of an existence, control will remain an illusion, but it helps me get somewhat 'back in control' within 48 hours of the ultra-marathon event and ensuing hunger insanity.  

What works for me is ignoring the numbers of calories and just keeping track of how many portions I've had of each category. If I don't make a brief note of it, it's gone from my head later. When I go home in the evening I check to see what categories I have left to eat and make my evening meal and snacks up out of those. I eat the boring veg at lunch time because I'm at work and might as well get all my misery over and done with at the same time. The veg isn't total misery though, because I know in my conscience that my body and brain need this, no matter how unappetizing it is. Besides, evening time at home is my comfort-eating-minefield, so I leave room for treats and carbs - my binges of choice. 

This eating plan brings me to envision a kitchen counter-top full of yummy, colorful, fun and tasty foods that I somehow have to get through before the end of the day, rather than watching an ever-decreasing calorie amount in dismay each time I eat something. Talk about punishing yourself! Instead, I actually look forward to grocery shopping (it brings me immediate and measurable benefits), food-logging (I write down simply what I ate: i.e. "Carbs: bread/bread/potato/" meaning 3 servings of carbs), weighing myself, indulging in treats, getting dressed and training. Another amazing thing: whenever I don't stick to the program, it doesn't take too many days before I'm actually craving going back on it again! I've followed this for 3 or 4 months on and off, with stable and slightly decreasing weight. I never would have expected that from a magazine article about a diet.


eebee's picture

Upping the Portions

Since I have managed to skate more days than not over the past month, my metabolism kicked up a notch and the above eating schedule has been insufficient. My weight has stabilized. I have consulted the Lance Armstrong Performance Program by Chris Carmichael & Lance Armstrong and according to their recommendations for calorie intake on a 9 week training program, have upped my portions intake thus:

For the next 3 weeks:

Carbs = (previously 6) 8 portions of 80-100 cals each. Oh what the heck, just go with 100!

Protein = 4 portions of 100 cals

Fruit = 3 portions of 60 cals

Veg = 6 portions of 25 cals

Treat = 3 portions of 100 cals

After this 3 weeks I should have lost a few more pounds, which other clueless 'diets' take as a sign for you to reduce your daily calorie intake, as you'll weigh less. Well honestly, where's the fun in that?! Why would anybody stick to anything like this only to be deprived and not rewarded at the end of it?! Chris and Lance say as I progress in my training program for weeks 4-6, I should actually increase my calorie intake. Yay. And this makes perfect sense, because the more embedded I get into my skate training, the more I approach wild abandon on the carb cravings. So for the middle 3 weeks I'll up the portions thus:

Carbs = 8 portions

Protein = 5 portions

Fruit = 3 portions

Veg = 6 portions

Treat = 3 portions

I know I should be more exact, and spread out the portion increase more evenly, but this whole schedule is about usability and ensuing longevity.

The last 3 weeks I'll add another portion to the treat section, which sounds like something to look forward to :-)

eebee's picture

'Eat for Health and Performance' calories for men

To be more specific than the above post...if you're following any of this at all...I realized I left some things out.


If you read this far, you're probably wondering where the logic is in my statement that my insufficient calories caused my weightloss to stabilize. I left out that each insufficient-calorie night about 11pm I find myself in the kitchen with the toaster, a loaf of bread and a tub of margarine, churning out an impressive production-line of hot buttered toast. It's comparable to taking $200 out of your monthly pay and putting it in savings, only to come up short by the same amount on your monthly bills and then charging your credit card up a storm to bridge the gap. It's one of those laws of the universe that I don't have a phrase for. How 'bout Save Now, Pay Later (in excess fat or credit card fees). So the plan is to head off hunger at the pass by including a few more preferably healthy portions of carbs and protein, and successfully side-stepping your body's panicked perception of starvation. 


I also forgot to mention that I'm going by the Eat for Health and Performance section of the book The Lance Armstrong Performance Program, by Lance Armstrong and Chris Carmichael. It's all very vague how I have decided to compare an 87 Mile A2A training program with the "Fast Recreational Rider" program in the book. On an A2A 87 mile skate-training schedule, we blow their Fast Recreational Rider out of the water on the weekly mileage, but this is still way more calories than most sports books that I've read have recommended. I haven't read any Ironman type nutritional books, so I'd be interested if anybody out there has, and could comment on that.


I also neglected to mention some numbers men can use. In the book they recommend for a 9 week training plan:


Weeks 1-3 = 13 calories per pound (of your bodyweight, e.g. 175lbs x 13 = 2,275 cals/day)

Weeks 4-6 = 14 calories per pound

Weeks 7-9 = 15 calories per pound

For the women Fast Recreational Rider, they suggested 12, 13 & 14, which is where I came up with my portion quantities in the previous post. Doing the portion thing is so much easier than calorie amounts, and what percent of that is fat, protein, etc.

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