A few months ago, I discovered the importance of including more protein in my diet. Specifically, more lean meat.
I realize this might sound silly, not to mention obvious, but I’ve pretty much followed the same food routine over the past four or so years. I bring something healthy for lunch (which usually means a pile of vegetables), add in a small sandwich or wrap and graze before and after lunch. I love toast and peanut butter, and also eat a lot of bananas, apples and yogurt.
My eating habits haven’t changed and I consider them to be pretty good. My running, on the other hand, has changed. A lot. And if I’m going to make changes to one of these aspects of my life, I must also modify the other.
As I’ve started training more for the upcoming Manitoba Marathon in June, I’ve been consistently increasing my weekly mileage. What I wasn’t doing was increasing my food intake – specifically my protein intake. I was still eating the same mini sandwich at lunch, along with one serving of meat at dinner (most days).
This just wasn’t cutting it, and I found myself absolutely starving by mid-afternoon which resulted in extra snacking, bad food choices and an overall lack of energy to keep clocking those miles.
Something was definitely wrong, and by process of trial and error I discovered the issue was the amount of protein I was getting during the day.
The fix was surprisingly simple. I swapped my mini sandwich for a serving of meat. So, instead of a bun, two tiny pieces of meat and some lettuce, I’d bring a chicken breast and eat it with my salad. Or, a pork chop from dinner the previous evening. The calories are about the same, but the difference was almost instantly noticeable.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m still eating my toast with peanut butter, bananas and yogurt. I’m still grazing during the day. But what I’m not doing is constantly thinking about food and when I’m going to allow myself to eat again. My mind is off my stomach, giving me more time to daydream about more important things – like running my first half marathon in a few short months.
In fitness classes, instructors always reiterate the importance of “listening to your body.” Well, my body was yelling at me daily to make a change. Finally, I’ve gotten the message.