“An extra pound slows a runner by about 2 seconds per mile.” – The Paleo Diet for Athletes. This is equivalent to an extra .45KG adding 1.2 seconds per KM. Over a marathon, this equates to 52.4 seconds.
On August 17, 2014 I ran in the Alice Springs Running Festival marathon in a time of 3:28:18. I was really out of shape coming off of a 6 week honeymoon but did what I could over 2 weeks to get some fitness back. I weighed 192 pounds (87.3KG). Fast forward one year and on August 16, 2015, I again ran in the Alice Springs Running Festival marathon in a time of 3:02:34. This was a 4minute Personal Best (PB) and a 25min,44sec improvement over the prior year which netted me 2nd place male, 3rd overall, and $300. Bam! I weighed 178 pounds or 80.9KG. I had trained for 11 weeks leading up to the race with long runs and easy hill repeats but no speed. The race was a “C” race and I trained 29.5 hours the week of the race, including 6.5 hours the day before in pursuit of Ironman Western Australia.
Based off of a weight reduction of 14 pounds in 1 year, I should have saved 28 seconds per mile. But, I actually saved 59 seconds per mile: on the same course, at the same time of year, under the same environmental conditions. So, where did the other 31 seconds per mile of improvement come from while training under such loads?
The 11 weeks of training prior to the event included weight training 2x/wk, hills 1x/wk, a long run up to 2.5hrs, as well as a new diet. How much of those 31seconds you want to allocate to weights, hills, long runs, consistency, and diet is up to you. But even if half came from diet, that’s still 75% improvement due to diet. (25% diet, 50% weight loss due to diet).
The graph below shows my weight over one season, Geelong 70.3 and Ironman Australia. The net decrease to my lowest ever weight was fuelled on fruits and plants. A bigger drop resulted when I fully committed to the diet and even a short holiday break illustrated it’s impact to weight.The graph below is an updated chart capturing 4 ironman seasons and the data I have on current weight loss. There are some interesting points I clearly want to make.
- My initial weight climbed over 1.5 years while eating a regular Western Diet of meats, processed foods, protein bars with 30+ nonspeakable ingredients and buying lunch from work.
- In the IM’WA’13 season, my weight improved, but slightly. I had not really adjusted diet and even while training up to 20 hours per week, the weight did not change; nor had my diet.
- I went on a “60 Day Challenge” also in this blog for Challenge USA. Weight dropped significantly while watching what I ate and eating “healthier”. Training stayed relatively the same as IM’WA’13.
- When I ate whatever I want and drank all I wanted on a 2 week cruise, my weight jumped to the highest since 2008 when I became a runner for doing the same thing!
- I started training again and for the first 6 months trained exclusively for 70.3 Ironman so the training came down relative to the past 2 seasons, but, I lost nearly the same. Note, I really started reducing all meats including fish and eggs.
- Of course, the weight climbed again after the season by coming out of Racing weight.
- The largest and most drastic changes started occurring in June 2015 after 6 months on a vegetarian/mostly vegan diet. I hit my lowest weights since 2002, had all blood tests improve within the normal range, Urea, which had always been high also fell into normal ranges because I reduced the protein bar supplements since they are highly processed containing a ton of chemicals.
Listen, I could say so many things right now about diet/nutrition/Paleo/Vegetarian etc. But I’ll keep it short. Firstly, I read the China Study and believe T Colin Campbell’s research that animal protein causes cancer. I read Brendan Braziers book Thrive and believe the western diet causes high acidity in the body which doesn’t support recovery. I continued to read many other books as well and know of Vegan Ultra Marathoners such as Rich Roll and Scott Jurek and the success they have had on vegan diets being some of the fittest people in the world. I have read the above noted Paleo book and call it unrealistic and a temporary fad. My proof is in my graphs. What I have done, how I feel, and the blood analysis to prove it.
The biggest thing I want to leave you with is this. How have I hit my largest weight losses while again training for an Ironman? The secret is NUTRITION. Think about it we eat 3-8 times per day. Don’t you think what you put into your mouth will be more important in terms of weight than 30minutes walking on a treadmill surfing Facebook? I truly wish I could change peoples lives by showing them that weight loss really is as simple as eating correctly. And to what I have read, believe, and have proof of, is a vegetarian/mostly vegan diet.
Give me 6 months. I challenge you. Give me 6 months to see how much weight you could lose. Lastly, I’ll leave you with what I’m eating today. I weighed 178 pounds this morning; my lowest weight in 12 years. Best of luck in your journey
Breakfast – Artisan Blueberry Bagel with vegan butter, 2servs rolled oats/cinnamon/brown sugar/100% pure maple syrup
10AM-12PM – Mayvers Peanut Butter from the jar (99.3% roasted peanuts & salt), apple, mandarin, orange, pear, banana. Lunch was left over dinner including sweet potatoes with allspice & garlic powder, spinach w/ olive oil & garlic, cous cous with red onions, snow peas, with some Heinz Tomato Ketchup from the US that contains HFCF, something I can’t even buy in Australia and won’t restock, obviously.
4:30PM – Salted Cashews
7:00PM – Tofu/Vegetable lasagne with red wine
9:00PM – some ice cream (rarely bought now)
I’m far from perfect, but now I have proof of what I’ve seen.