Swim, Bike, Run- Eat
Who Should Read It:
Of course all triathletes, but also the average person looking to eat healthier.
Why Should We Read It:
This book offers the full package of nutritional guidance for daily living and for physical activity.
What Will We Learn:
We will learn critical concepts for healthy daily nutrition, whether we are triathletes or not.
"...We must fuel the triathlon lifestyle as intentionally as we train..."
Ironman Triathlons originated in the 1970's among military personnel in Hawaii as a means to determine whether a swimmer, cyclist, or runner was the fittest athlete in the world. Apparently, the debate could only be settled in the all-American way: combine the distance of the "Waikiki Roughwater Swim (2.4 miles)", the "Around Oahu Bike Race (~112 miles)", and the "Honolulu Marathon (26.2 miles)" into a single day race! Ironman Triathlons have now become a global movement in which thousands dedicate themselves to the 140.6 mile holy grail of finish lines. How do they do it? A detailed exercise regimen is of course necessary, but it is not sufficient. We must fuel this lifestyle as intentionally as we train, and there is no better nutritional guide than Tom Holland's Swim, Bike, Run- Eat: The Complete Guide to Fueling Your Triathlon.
"We should be eating carbohydrates, proteins, and fats every day- the 'good' versions!"
The core principle for fueling a triathlon is to maintain a healthy eating pattern every single day, even if we are not going to be racing at all. This is exponentially easier said than done: most Americans have horrible diets and very limited understanding of nutrition in general. Should I have carbohydrates or protein? Should I avoid fats? Yes, and no! Our bodies need carbohydrates, protein, and fats for different purposes, so yes we should be eating the "good" versions of all three. Mr. Holland dedicates one chapter to each macronutrient, and the explanations are both scientifically sound and accessible for the average lay person. A solid understanding of each macronutrient then enables the triathlete to make the necessary adjustments if they also subscribe to a specific food philosophy (vegan, Paleo, etc). This leads to a very critical concept for us all, triathlete or not: our individual food philosophies don't matter. What matters is we take in the right macronutrients at the right time in the right amounts.
"Good" Carbohydrates: vegetables, fruit, potatoes, cereals, rice, whole-grain pasta, whole-grain bread, whole-grain anything.
"Good" Protein: fish (especially oily fish like salmon), low-fat dairy, eggs (especially if fortified with omega-3), poultry, whole soy foods, beans, nuts, shellfish, wild game. Limit full-fat dairy and red meat to twice a week.
"Good" Fat- extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, soybean oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, peanut butter, granola, egg yolk, tuna, salmon, cod, crab, shrimp, oysters, soybean.
There should be 5-6 medium sized meals in our daily schedule, and each of the meals should always have a "good" carbohydrate supplemented with a "good" protein and/or fat. This proposal may sound excessive because many of us believe we only need 3 meals per day. In fact, most of us are snacking on junk food throughout the day while telling ourselves we only eat three meals per day. Mr. Holland's strategy of 5-6 meals per day addresses this paradox. If we are grazing on "good" macronutrients throughout the day, then we will not feel hungry enough to seek out junk food. Instead, we will lose weight before we even begin training (less race day baggage!) while also feeling stronger overall for our workouts. If we can maintain this strategy 80% of the time, then we will have a solid foundation for our triathlon training while also allowing ourselves to enjoy our city's finest restaurants 20% of the time.
"...eat 5-6 meals per day, especially within 30 minutes of exercise..."
We should always have one of the above 5-6 meals within 30 minutes of finishing any strenuous exercise routine. The primary goal is to take advantage of the "metabolic window", the 30 minutes in which our bodies have maximum ability to replenish our carbohydrate stores and to utilize consumed proteins to make muscle. The secondary goal is to avoid "compensatory eating", a common phenomenon in which people gain weight despite consistent vigorous exercise. When we work out, we burn a lot of calories. If weight loss is the fitness goal, then we will be tempted to avoid eating after exercise. Why throw away the progress we made? This thinking is flawed. We will be ravenously hungry after exercise. If we intentionally avoid the "metabolic window", we are more likely to make less healthy food choices (and eat large amounts of it) later in the day. Therefore, we should embrace our 5-6 daily meals, especially within 30 minutes of exercise!
This book is for everyone, whether our goal is an Ironman Triathlon or simple healthy living
Swim, Bike, Run- Eat is primarily geared towards triathletes, and is replete with quantitative advice for those who want it. For example, we should be eating a carbohydrate: protein ratio of 4:1 to 7:1 if recovering from a work-out, and we should be drinking 16 ounces of fluid for every pound lost during exercise (24 ounces per pound if we intend to conduct another work-out session later in the day). It also provides detailed nutritional guidance for race day, whether it is a "sprint triathlon" (0.5 mile swim, 12.4 mile bike, 3.1 mile run), an "Olympic triathlon" (1.0 mile swim, 25 mile bike, 6.2 mile run), or the full 140.6 mile Ironman. This book absolutely fulfills its stated purpose in helping all triathletes achieve their personal goals. I believe that Swim, Bike, Run-Eat is also an excellent introductory book for those who simply wish to live healthier and perhaps some weight along the way.