Monday, 24 February 2014

One-Eighth of an Avocado

Nutrition for exercise is notoriously full of Bro Science.

 My recent attempt at cutting carbs and increasing protein, which is fairly standard advice, resulted in, uh, tight bowls and I abandoned it. I needed something, so I went looking on the medical shelves again.

Serious books - as opposed to academic studies - on sports and exercise nutrition are hard to find, and usually heavily theoretical. More food science than actually useful how-to’s. So I was pleased to run across Susan Kleiner’s Power Eating in Blackwells on Charing Cross Road a couple of weeks ago. Ms Kleiner is a real PhD with more letters after her name than most people, but much more important, has worked with the Seattle Seahawks, the Cleveland Browns, Miami Heat and the Seattle SuperSonics. Those are organisations that need and will pay for results, and aren’t going to hire a cute nutritionist because PR. I’m inclined to read with some respect, especially as she dishes the dirt on the obviously faddy stuff.

So, here’s Dr Kleiner’s example diet for a man looking to maintain weight, lose fat and hence gain muscle:

Preworkout Snack: 1 cup plain yoghurt+¾ cup blueberries

Breakfast: 1 slice wholemeal bread, 1 cup fat-free milk, ½ cup orange juice, ½ cup fruit, 1 cup sautéed vegetables, 1 whole egg+4 egg whites, 21g Whey protein with the milk, ⅛ avocado spread on the bread

Lunch: 6-inch Subway with extra meat, banana

Dinner: ½ baked sweet potato, 3oz grapes, 1 cup steam asparagus 4 cups mixed green salad, 6 oz grilled salmon, olive oil, green tea.

There’s also two snacks in there that amount to a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts each.

I am NOT doubting the correctness of this advice. It’s a huge relief to find that someone who knows what they are talking about is in favour of carbohydrate. And vegetables.

BUT… Did that ⅛ avocado get you as well? I’m a live-alone bachelor. What do I do with the other ⅞ of the avocado? Avocados go brown really fast, even in the fridge. I know what the cooks at the Seahawks do, they give the other seven parts to seven other players. The chef at a restaurant would do the same thing. But I can’t. I’m left with most of an avocado that’s going to be wasted.

I can do the breakfast. I added the milk and whey protein, plus some vegetables to my usual stuff the next day. I try to avoid bread if I can because I react to it. (As I’ve discovered I now burp for a good couple of hours after eating commercial cakes in cafes. Damn. No more carrot cake.)

I could do a dinner like that except Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, which are all late-home evenings that leave me about ninety minutes before lights out. Damn. I really have to get all the fish organised: Dr Kleiner is fish fan.

One thing I took away was the need to feed the system soon after exercise. Remember I commute, so I work out and spend the next ninety minutes travelling and settling back into the house. Dr Kleiner is working with people who can be fed soon after training with no problem, and writing for people who don’t have long commutes. That dinner is being eaten way before I get a chance to start. I’m thinking protein powder and a cafe smoothie. Dr Kleiner suggests protein-carb smoothies after exercise for men looking to build muscle, and once again I was asking HOW? I make it at home at 06:15, put in a Thermos which I carry around all day and finally consume it twelve hours later. Milk and banana? I don’t think so. But it’s a snip if I’m a Seattle Seahawk or a High-School athlete. The team support prepare it.

There's more than one reason why office guys who commute are not in the same shape as well-advised and trained athletes. One-eigth of an avocado is one of them. It's why restaurants can serve better meals than you can make at home.

Anyway, I’m putting this into action for the next few months. It means a new set of buying habits, but that’s okay.

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