Last week I finished reading Matt Fitzgerald’s book “The Endurance Diet”. I found it very informative and chocked full of good advice. So I decided to publish my thoughts about it here.
There are five core habits that Matt lays out in his book. For me they were a breath of fresh air. In the past I have subscribed to the methodology of a slew of diets from Paleo to Weight Watchers and even Atkins for a while. I would lose weight but eventually the restrictiveness of the diet would get tiresome and I would fall back into old habits. The other issue was that as a non-completive exerciser my motivation was chiefly to look good. With my shift in motivation towards peak competitive fitness I became interested in The Endurance Diet and how it could affect my fitness goals.
In the last six months I have shed 23+ pounds (~10.5kg). The first 15 pounds were lost through only increasing my workouts frequency and intensity. After the initial weight loss though I plateaued for several months. I did not lose any further weight until I radically improved my diet. Radically may seem to be a slight exaggeration but as you will see in the DQS section below my diet was in dire need of a revamp.
At this point I think that my best race weight will probably be at least another five to ten pounds lighter. Realistically I believe this goal weight will take several months to achieve. Why? Because as I lose fat weight I am simultaneously gaining weight from an increase in lean mass a.k.a. muscle. Put another way I feel that my current weight decrease, through fat loss is only slightly greater than my lean mass weight gain. Consequently, the rapid gains I have seen in the last few months will taper off and be replaced by smaller gains. I am hoping to conduct a DEXA scan this month to confirm these suspicions. When I do I will share my results here.
Practicing The Endurance Diet is not sufficient in itself to maximize endurance fitness; however, during the initial phase of attaining my peak fitness I have found it to be very helpful in shedding excess weight. Case in point: A few weeks ago I went on a family vacation where I knew that finding time to work out was going to be difficult. Rather than feel guilty all week, I switched gears and made it a “Recovery Week”. During that week I followed The Endurance Diet’s methodology and despite not working out, I lost nearly three pounds.
The Endurance Diet methodology
Before I begin let me point out that rather than poorly paraphrase what Matt lays out in his book I chose to
[Square brackets] are my words added for clarity.
For me, the Endurance Diet’s two most impactful aspects were the Diet Quality Score (DQS) system and the “Five Core Habits“.
Diet Quality Score (DQS)
When I started my quest for peak fitness in April of 2018 I thought my diet was pretty healthy. For starters I ate pizza maybe once or twice a month. I drank a soda once or twice a quarter. My fried food intake was minimal and I hardly ever ate any sweets. How bad could my diet be right? Well when I plugged my food intake into the DQS matrix to say I was horrified would be an understatement. My best score was in the low teens, but more often it fell in the single digits. I thought I had been eating healthy but the DQS opened my eyes to how under fueled my body had been for so long.
My fruit intake was close to zero servings a week. Why? Because fruit has sugar in it and sugar is bad for you. My nut and seeds intake was close to zero servings a week as well. Why? Because nuts are high in fat and that is bad for you too. My vegetable intake was almost always only at dinner. However, the veggies were normally smothered in a highly processed sauce to improve the “flavor”. Add in a couple glasses of adult beverages and my nutrient intake was a disaster.
The above mentioned problems were the low hanging fruit that following the DQS system identified as areas for change (here is a link to a DQS spreadsheet I created with a sample day on Monday). Another key area that required attention was my consumption of refined grains such as white rice, chips, & crackers. Within a week or two my score was in the mid to low 20’s. I have even got a couple of 30s. All I had to do was adopt the Five Core Habits. Sound difficult? It was actually very easy and surprisingly fun.
↓ Click below to continue reading about The Endurance Diet’s Five Core Habits