Aug 15, 2014
How I train for the Ironman-distance triathlon: Part 4
In the fourth post of our Ironman blog series, Vasu talks about nutrition; her search for the right diet, her experiments with different foods, and her love for blueberry cheesecake.
The Outdoor Journal
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I have experimented with a bunch of diet plans. About a year ago, I tried the Eating Right for your Blood Type. So I tested it on my body. Turns out, O blood types are allergic to wheat. So much for my four rotis per meal. Then I ran into the beautiful Tasos Koligionis, world body building champion. He sat me down and gave me a detailed breakdown of how much I am supposed to eat. Lots of meat and dairy. Only two months in, and I got so sick of eating meat, I gave it up. Decided to go back to a predominantly vegan diet, with the exception of eggs and (whispering) blueberry cheesecake. And I am supposed to have 5-6 meals a day, end up having two per day.
Ideally, my breakfast consists of: black chana sprouts or whole moong sprouts flash boiled, served with onions and cilantro, four eggs, besan chilla (thin pancakes made of chickpea flour) with pickle or some vegetable, two bowls of fruit. Takes me an hour to plod through breakfast. My friends call it the superman breakfast. This meal I have after my workout, generally between 10 am and 1 pm, depending on the workout that day.
The second meal is two bowls of vegetable, and ideally a dal (lentils). I can also have chikki during the day (dry fruit and molasses slabs), and a boiled potato with salt and pepper.
During the workout, I carry water with me, with electrol in it. Generally prescribed for diarrhea, this electrol is marketed by the World Health Organization and we put 1/3 of the green and white packet into each bottle of water to replace the salts we lose during training. If the workout is more than 2 hours, I take a recovery drink, with hemp seeds in it. My extra treat, and essential for replacing the protein and carbs into my muscles. And lots and lots of water – supposed to have 7-9 liters per day, and I am not doing it currently. Bad Vasu!
For my second meal, I stir-fry a bunch of vegetables: broccoli and cauliflower are favorites, the Indian string bean, French beans, any leafy green vegetable (lately I have been cooking this long pointy leafy green vegetable, don’t know what it is, high in fibre), in garlic and olive oil, then tossed in peanut butter and soy sauce. I also occasionally have this stir-fry with Thai pad see ew noodles – flat rice noodles.
I have one glass of juice a day, usually pomegranate – juiced fresh in front of me, with black salt, or even sugarcane juice.
If I eat out, I can have dosa with a side order of spinach, or this – my favorite – tofu slabs in oyster sauce with artichoke hearts, on a bed of arugula. I am crazy about kale, but don’t get it in Delhi. One special place in Mumbai I get it at, and then I steam it and have it by itself.
I’ve had to lose weight for the Ironman, and its been tricky figuring out what is good for my body. Even one food item my body doesn’t like, and I have an immediate reaction to it – so fine-tuned is my body now. If I cheat, I pay for it.
I was vegan for seven years in the US, and that was fine. Then I tried the Eating Right for Your Blood Type diet, which prescribes predominantly the paleo diet with the exception of quinoa and oatmeal. Grain and I really don’t go well.
I stumbled upon the paleo diet while speaking with a friend’s husband, tried it, but the meat got too much. Now I predominantly do the vegan hunter-gatherer’s diet with egg exceptions, and very occasionally, fish. I do need fat in my diet, and even though the Eat Right For Your Blood Type discourages it for me, I am a fool over nut butters. I heard good things about the moringa oleifera tree, so have planted two seeds in a pot.
I guess if my life were Shark Tale, I’d be Lenny. I’m still working on it, still haven’t figured it out entirely. I know this much so far – our bodies are as sophisticated and as sensitive as an ecosystem. Even a single step away from what is right for us has a far-reaching impact.