Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Racing Weight Cookbook - Review!

As an endurance athlete, our nutritional requirements are somewhat different from other folks.   This is something I'm still learning 15+ years into my endurance sports lifestyle.  One thing I've definitely learned over the last few years is that what you put in to your body directly affects what you get out of it.  Knowing that, I try to eat as cleanly as possible which usually means I'm cooking something or other for dinner, which also means I need to plan ahead.  Sometimes life doesn't always work out that way.  Things come up.  You end up getting really busy at work and what limited time you have left in your day you devote to squeezing your workout in.  With no plan, you usually end up making less than ideal choices food wise.  Case in point:  last Thursday night, I had a 70 minute trainer ride and I got home from work a little later than normal so I got on the bike a little later than I would have liked.  G came downstairs when I was halfway through my ride and asked what we were doing for dinner.  I didn't even want to think about cooking something so I told him to order something.  I was SO HUNGRY that day that I ended up ordering sweet potato fries with my 1/4 chicken dinner + a salad.  And, I ate it ALL.  Did I need the fries?  Probably not.   But hunger led me to make a less than ideal choice.   But it doesn't have to be that way.  Yes, there are some days that I just want to have Swiss Chalet and french fries so I'm going to have them.  But it doesn't have to be a default.

Enter the lovely Georgie Fear.  I have never actually met Georgie but I have had the pleasure of knowing her virtually for almost 3 years (oh the wonder of the interwebz!).  I first "met" her in an online forum and have been gobbling up her recipes and nutritional knowledge ever since.  Her recipes are some of my go to favourites because they are simple, easy to prepare and they taste great.  When I heard that she was teaming up with Matt Fitzgerald to create the Racing Weight Cookbook, I was so excited.   Now, I'm going to come clean, I hadn't read Racing Weight before I got the cookbook but that is about to change. 

The first thing that struck me with this book was the way it was organized.  Not everyone has the desire or aptitude to spend hours in the kitchen making things and Matt & Georgie realize this so they've organized the recipes into sections for 1) The Athlete Who Doesn't Cook 2) The Athlete with Some Cooking Experience and 3) The Athlete Who Loves to Cook.  Each one of these sections is then broken down into breakfast, lunch & dinner.  The easy recipes are as simple as a smoothie or how to cook eggs 3 different ways.  The more complicated recipes are still quite simple in my opinion and I'd say that I fall into category three (on most days, ha ha).  

You will also find a code by the recipe that will tell you if it's a high protein (HP) recipe, a high carb (HC) recipe a vegetarian (V) recipe or a recovery (R) recipe.  This helps you figure out what you should eat in order to fuel your workouts and recovery.  The recipes also give you a Diet Quality Score (DQS).  DQS is the first step in the Racing Weight Program.  The program is based on 6 guidelines:

1.  Improve your diet quality
2.  Manage your appetite (I have a hard time with this!)
3.  Balance your energy sources
4.  Monitor yourself (again something I struggle with)
5.  Time your nutrition
6.  Train for racing weight  

Improving one's diet quality is probably one of the biggest factors in getting leaner and performing better.  I am a walking, talking testament to that fact.  For years I weighed anywhere between 130-135lbs.  At 5ft 5in, that's not out of the ordinary.  Even while training for both my Ironman races, I never really got much below 130lbs.  I'm going to chalk that up to two things:  1) the way I ate and 2) the way I trained at that point in time.  Because I was so busy training I relied on a lot of pre-packaged foods.  Frozen lasagna's, frozen pizzas etc.  Things that I could throw in the oven and cook while G and I were doing our evening workout.  Once I stopped relying on those things and actually cooking REAL food, the weight started to come off and stay off (imagine that!).   I'm now between 120 - 125lbs and my race performances have improved in leaps and bounds, despite getting older.

I've been cooking from this book on a regular basis since I got it a few weeks ago and I haven't been disappointed with anything I've made.  There are a few recipes in here that I was already familiar with as I have one of Georgie's other cookbooks (Fuel Up, which I also highly recommend).   Those of you that follow me on instagram know how much I love my pancakes due to the sheer amount of pictures I post of them.  Each one of my pancake recipes starts with Georgie's pancake recipe which was included in the Racing Weight cookbook.  They're delicious as is but also easily adaptable which I love.
Gingerbread pancakes - adapted from Georgie's recipe!
While they encourage you to cook as much as possible, there are also various recipe "hacks" in here that add more nutritional value to pre-packaged food.  One I really enjoyed was the Tomato Florentine soup.  It took no time at all and it was absolutely delicious.  They key with these is to find quality pre-packaged foods.  Another example they give is the 5 Minute Burrito using an Amy's bean and cheese burrito.  Definitely something I could get behind on a day where I am pressed for time and just want something quick, easy and healthy.

Tomato Florentine Soup
I'm loving this book so much it hasn't left my kitchen counter since I got it.  I think it's a very user friendly cookbook geared towards all levels of cooks.  I also feel that it's a solid resource to help athletes get their diet and nutritional goals on track.  Do you NEED to have the Racing Weight book to reap all the benefits...perhaps.  I do think that by following Matt's guidelines in this book that you will successfully be able to get leaner and perform better.  It's definitely a book that is going to stay in my regular rotation.

Disclaimer:  I approached Georgie and asked her for a copy to review.  All opinions are my own. 

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