A New Thing I’m Trying: More Protein, Bigger Breakfasts

I ran a few times in the last week and didn’t write about any of it! What is this blog coming to? I admit I feel stretched very thin lately – I’m trying to do too much, and when that happens, writing often takes a back seat to other priorities. Also, I tend to write these posts on my train rides into the city, and recently, all I want to do on the train is close my eyes.

I’ve also realized that although this is a running blog, I don’t need to blog about every single run. So it’s all good – I’m not going to pressure myself to Do It All™. I’d rather write when I have something to say.

The end of last week was physically draining for me; no matter the workout, I felt unusually run down. I know I wasn’t sleeping enough, but I never sleep enough, so I was trying to figure out exactly what was off.

To recap last week’s workouts/runs:

Monday: Fitness Blender abs + upper body workout
Tuesday: 4.41 miles at 9:32 pace
Wednesday: 2.03 miles at 9:28 pace + Fitness Blender upper body workout
Thursday: 5.62 miles at 9:26 pace
Friday: Fitness Blender “1000 calorie” 84-minute total body workout
Saturday: 7.04 miles at 9:21 pace
Sunday: 8.23 miles at 9:21 pace
Monday: Fitness Blender abs + upper body workout

None of that should have been all that difficult, but at the same time I’m still getting back in the swing of things after taking a month off from running. I started running again the week before this one, with just a few miles at a time. So while I am steadily ramping the miles back up to where I was before, I think I’ve been doing it pretty conservatively.

Thursday was when I first noticed it. The exhaustion continued for the next few days for every workout, finally back to feeling almost normal again on Sunday. I sleep more on the weekends (7-8 hours a night instead of 5-6), so I’m sure that helped.

But another thing I noticed that was different about last week was my diet.

Nothing drastic or anything: my meals were pretty much the same as usual. Calorie intake was the same. Stress levels were about the same, I guess. I did look at some apartments in the city last week, but that actually made me feel less, not more, anxious.

The main difference last week was that I ran out of peanut butter and almond butter. There was also more cereal in the house than usual. And while I love snacking on nut butter, I also love snacking on dry cereal. I really love dry cereal. A lot. Which is what I snacked on. Probably too much.

So not only was I suddenly not eating as much fat and protein as I normally do, I was eating more carbs, and probably not the best kind of carbs.

I confirmed this when I checked my macros: sure enough, the split that’s normally about 50/20/30 carbs/protein/fat was now about 67/17/16. I wondered if this difference was enough to affect my energy levels. It was the only thing I could think of that was “off.”

So when the weekend rolled around I made a big food shopping trip, replenishing my nut butter supply and buying extra chicken and even some salmon I made for my dad and myself on his birthday. (TIP: I always buy my peanut and almond butter at Trader Joe’s – all natural and cheaper.) I’m consciously adding more protein to my meals, and today, I brought two hard boiled eggs as part of my afternoon snack. Let’s see if that diminishes the urge for office Twizzlers.

Here’s another food-related thing: I’ve been watching a lot of food videos on youtube lately, with titles like “What I Eat As a Runner” and “What I Ate While Marathon Training” and “Counting Calories With a Ballerina.” (Have you guys seen the ballerina who eats corndogs for breakfast? I love her.) And I’ve noticed that many runners, and ballerinas, seem to eat bigger meals than I do – but they snack less.

Hell, let’s break it down! Here’s about what I eat in a typical weekday:

Breakfast: 250-350 calories
Lunch: 250-350 calories
Dinner: 400-600 calories
Snacks: 700-900 calories

I tend to eat lighter in the beginning of the day, with lunch (salad w/ protein) almost always my lightest meal. I like not feeling too full too early and leaving room at the end for dinner and snacks. However, this leads to either 1) too much afternoon snacking on candy at the office or 2) feeling so hungry by the time I eat dinner at 9:30 pm I’m borderline dizzy – in addition to more post-dinner snacking because my brain still thinks it’s starving.

So I want to change things up. I want it to look more like this:

Breakfast: 550-650 calories
Lunch: 300-400 calories
Dinner: 400-600 calories
Snacks: 400-500 calories

Those are rough estimates, by the way, and really for weekdays. I eat a lot more on the weekends. Trust me.

I’ve already started implementing this, and I think it’s working. Yesterday and today, my breakfasts were double what they normally are – in the 600 calorie range – and sure enough, last night I felt much less of an urge to snack after dinner. I’ll write a whole post about my breakfast soon because I really love it. It’s too much for this already bloated post and I need to wait so I can take some nice pictures.

This was a lot more writing about food than I had planned, although, as usual, I didn’t really plan anything for this post. I just started writing. And now there are words here! Crazy how that happens.

I admit: I have a weird relationship with food – one that I wouldn’t call unhealthy, but it’s also much more mentally consuming than I’d like it to be. It takes up a lot of brain space. I love food and I love eating and luckily have never had a problem with not eating. I’d just like to devote a little less energy to it so I have energy for, you know, other stuff. I’m working on it.

To close, here are a couple of pictures I took this weekend on my runs.


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