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My IronMan Food Diary

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Photo: Via @jmoloney1
In June 2017, I'll be competing in IronMan which consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile cycle and a 26.2 mile run (a marathon), in that order. Read Part 1 of my IronMan journey here.
I’ll get to my food diary in a sec but first, a little background on my relationship with the source that sustains us, day in, day out.

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with food. I eat because I have to, not because I enjoy it – and no, I have never had an eating disorder.

Throughout my youth, I never thought about food as a ‘bad’ thing. I would eat a doughnut if I wanted it. I was always a skinny kid (I didn’t get hips and an ass until I was 18 and, well, the tits never came!), I was sprinting for my county, I danced for many hours a day and (when it wasn’t raining) I cycled to school. I had a fast metabolism just from being young; the thought of burning calories never crossed my mind.

Then at 17, while I was reaching for the biscuit tin, my then-boyfriend told me that I should watch how many I ate as I would get fat. He pinched my ‘love handles’ as he said it. In a split second my attitude changed – my attitude towards him. But I’ll get back to that later…

It wasn’t until I started seeing God – also known as CJ, my trainer – that I realised the ways in which food could fuel me, make me quicker and more alert. It sounds stupid, but until things are pointed out and put in front of us, we don’t know them!

This was around the time of my first marathon in New York. I always ate three meals, but the quality was questionable. I used to live on coffee, fruit and dinners out. It still, to this day, baffles CJ how I managed to train so intensely on just that. He suggested (correction, made) me eat more protein and carbs, and I’ve never looked back.
You need to treat your body like a car – you don’t let your beautiful BMW run without petrol because it wouldn’t move and you would damage the engine. Our bodies are that BMW – we need to move and we need this ‘engine’ to last us for many years, so we need to treat it with respect and fuel it with the best fuel we can to make it run smoothly.

So, what do I eat?


An active female should be consuming around 2000 calories per day but due to my extreme level of training I often burn almost all of that, so I consume around 1000+ more calories. And I do have rules…

1: I only eat carbs after I train. Carbs are ESSENTIAL in any diet.

2: Every meal I have contains protein. I’ll come to why later.

3: I eat good fats. I.e. avocados and I cook in good fats like coconut oil (incidentally it’s a great dressing).

4: I eat even if I don’t feel hungry. If you don’t eat regularly, your body will go into starvation mode and then anything you eat will be turned into fat as your body will store it in fear of not knowing when it will get fed again. The worst thing you can do is barely eat anything all day and then eat one meal at dinner time.

5: I barely drink alcohol. I was not living such a clean life six years ago, I was partying from the age of 15 and by about 21, I think I had partied more than most people do in their whole lives. Alcohol can contain extremely high levels of sugar and it hinders my training. Even if I have a couple of glasses of wine, the next day I don’t run quite as quick and getting out of bed is that tiny bit harder.

If I do drink, I’m partial to a Margarita with a salted rim, or a glass of champagne.

6: If I want it, I eat it. The main rule in my training diet is this. If I fancy a slice of cake or a can of Dr Pepper I never stop myself. The more you suppress those cravings, the worse they are!


Is there anything I don’t eat?


Meat! I used to spit out any meat given to me and at 13 declared I was a vegetarian. My family pointed out that with the amount of training and dancing I was doing, I should at least keep fish in my diet. I listened; we are actually called pescatarians but you sound like a right wanker saying that to people so I often just say ‘a vegetarian that eats fish!’ I also get protein from other sources, such as quinoa.

I can’t eat and train straightaway in the morning, so I train first then…

Breakfast


If I’m having a work breakfast (I work in talent management) then it’s:

Two slices of gluten-free toast (yes I’m that person, BUT gluten does not agree that well with me), spinach, mushrooms and avocado.

If I have breakfast at home it’s:

A bowl of white fish and a WelleCo Nourishing Protein (vanilla) shake with almond milk.

Every single morning I also have a glass of the WelleCo Super Elixir Alkalising Greensit’s a supplement and helps to maintain good nutrition, strong immunity and balances the acidity in your skin, helping give it that glow! It’s also a saviour when travelling as it helps beat jet lag.

Lunch


Normally I do a Reformer Pilates class then have boiled sweet potato or gluten-free pasta. I normally add a healthy topping such as tuna or avocado.

Dinner


Simple white fish and salad or white fish and a carb.

Snacks


Bananas and lots of peanut butter. The amount I go through, I should have shares in Pip & Nut!

Food During Training


If I’m going for a really long cycle (about 4-5 hours) I’ll take protein bars in my pocket to eat while I’m cycling, because you need to keep yourself fuelled up.

Food On Race Day


On race days there is a specific diet I follow. I religiously stick to this for every marathon, triathlon and duathlon.

I have a gluten-free bagel with peanut butter and a banana (half) chopped on top. I eat half the bagel before I leave the house – this sounds gross, but you have to think about when you’re going to go to the toilet! –then I eat half in the car on the way there, then about 1 hour before I start, I eat the other half of the banana.

Food During The Race


Gels are used to ingest small amounts of carbs that help maintain your energy levels. Carbs and fats are used as the main energy source and the amount of training affects this. It’s common sense but when training for long periods of time, the body relies on carbs for its energy source. Fat is broken down into usable energy but is a much slower source. No matter how much we load our body with carbs we can only store a limited amount in our muscles. This is where gels come in. Energy gels replenish the glycogen you are burning when training intensely and/or for long periods of time.

You have to trial gels to find the ones for you – they can mess a little with your stomach so it’s a case of trial and error. DON’T try gels for the first time on race day, you may be running for the toilet!

I personally use the brand SIS (Science In Sport) because they don’t taste too bad, and my body completely agrees with them. Typically in a marathon, I’ll have an isotonic gel at approximately eight miles (isotonic gels hit the carb load you need to keep your performance level up). Then another isotonic gel at 16 miles and, if I need it, a caffeine and energy gel at 22 miles – this gives an extra caffeine hit and lasts for under 60-90 minutes.

When I do marathons, I tuck three gels into my arm strap where my iPod is. I’m sure there’s a much fancier way to store them but it works for me! For triathlons, they go in the suit.


My Weekly Shop…


Veg
I have a veg box delivered once a week – I use Riverford, which I highly recommend. I only pay around £15 a week and each Friday I have a box of veg (for two) delivered to my door. It’s seasonal so you can’t select what you want, but you can choose more or less root. There is so much you can do with all the veg, I make soups, broths, salads, roasted veg (if it’s coming to the end of the week).

Fruit
Blueberries, strawberries, bananas, apples and ginger (I make a smoothie some mornings). Ginger helps soothe the digestive system, has anti-inflammatory effects, lowers blood sugar and can help fight infection.

Fish
Prawns, tuna, white fish, salmon, sea bass. All naturally high in protein and oily fish is high in Omega 3.

Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is loved by most active people because it is a great source of protein. I suggest buying peanut butter that is made from ground peanuts – no added oil or salts. Stick to known brands like Pip & Nut or Meridian.

Quinoa
Quinoa is high in protein, contains iron and is rich in magnesium. It is a slowly digested carb making it a great low GI option (and it keeps you fuller for longer).

Sweet Potato
I personally prefer sweet potatoes over white potatoes, and sweet potato has more fibre.

Snacks
Liquorice, Dr Pepper and PopChips!

I don’t see my diet as extreme or hard to stick to. I’m pretty lucky in that I really enjoy healthy options. When I was young I used to snack between meals but growing up for the most important years of my life with the two most important men in my life – my dad and my brother – I realised men don’t snack like women do! This is where the importance of eating well comes in because if you tend to fall into the mid-afternoon slump, it’s probably because you’re lacking something in your lunch and that something is probably carbs and protein.

To that ex-boyfriend all I have to say is: fuck you. And thank you. Fuck you for what you said to a 17-year-old girl at her most vulnerable. But also thank you, because without looking at my diet and understanding the importance of fuel, I could not finish these marathons, duathlons and triathlons and I wouldn’t be where I am today: on the ultimate road to becoming an IronMan, with or without the love handles!

@jmoloney1
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