Run Oregon’s Racing Weight Test Kitchen

Beginning in March, a team of runners who blog for Run Oregon began testing recipes from Racing Weight Cookbook: Lean, Light Recipes for Athletes by Matt Fitzgerald.

What did they think of the recipes? Take a look!

Tomato & Beef Florentine Soup
Cauliflower, White Bean, and Cheddar Soup
Pumpkin and Maple-Nut Oatmeal
Pork & Pepper Sauce over Rotini
White Bean, Tomato, and Cucumber Salad

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The Racing Weight Series™ is the proven weight-loss program for endurance athletes. Find Racing Weight, Racing Weight Cookbook, or Racing Weight Quick Start Guide in your local bookstore; bike, tri, or running shop; or from these online retailers:Racing Weight Cookbook Lean Light Recipes for AthletesRacing Weight 2nd Ed. RW2 96dpi 400x600p strokeRWQSG 72dpi_400x600_stroke Racing Weight Quick Start Guide

The Racing Weight Series™ is published by VeloPress, the leading publisher of books about endurance sports.

Fit Bottomed Eats & Racing Weight Cookbook Recipe One-Pot Quinoa, Chicken, and Veggies

“[The Racing Weight Series] focuses on incorporating high-quality foods based on an easy-to-understand point system designed to help athletes become lean and strong and healthy…Racing Weight Cookbook is …WAY more than just a cookbook.” — Fit Bottomed Eats

Sample a Racing Weight Cookbook recipe: One-Pot Quinoa, Chicken, and Veggies!

Fit Bottomed Eats Racing Weight Cookbook

The Racing Weight Series™ is the proven weight-loss program for endurance athletes. Find Racing Weight, Racing Weight Cookbook, or Racing Weight Quick Start Guide in your local bookstore; bike, tri, or running shop; or from these online retailers:Racing Weight Cookbook Lean Light Recipes for AthletesRacing Weight 2nd Ed. RW2 96dpi 400x600p strokeRWQSG 72dpi_400x600_stroke Racing Weight Quick Start Guide

The Racing Weight Series™ is published by VeloPress, the leading publisher of books about endurance sports.

Your Weight Predicts Your Race Performance More Accurately Than Your Training

You are not going to believe this: your weight is a better predictor of your race performance than how much or how well you train.

From Chapter One: Get Leaner, Go Faster in the new edition of Racing Weight:

The advantages of being light and lean for endurance performance are so obvious that they hardly needed to be scientifically proven, but exercise scientists have gone out and proven them anyway, and the proof is interesting. In a 1986 study Peter Bale and his colleagues at England’s Brighton Polytechnic University compared a host of anthropometric measurements in a group of 60 male runners (Bale, Bradbury, and Colley 1986). The subjects were divided into three groups of 20 based on their best 10K race times. The average weight of the men in the “average” group was 152 pounds compared to 145 pounds in the good group and 141 pounds in the elite group. Body composition measurements followed a similar pattern. Average body-fat percentages were 12.1, 10.7, and 8.0 in the average, good, and elite groups, respectively.Racing Weight Quick Start Guide

It bears noting that even the runners making up the average group were somewhat lighter and significantly leaner than the average nonrunner. The sport selects for naturally lighter and leaner individuals because they generally find greater initial success. The selection pressure continues within the sport right up to the top level. While most world-class runners have similar body weights (with women being lighter than men, naturally), research has shown that within the population of world-class runners, those with the lowest body-fat percentages tend to have the fastest race times.

Studies involving other types of endurance athletes have yielded similar findings. In 2011 Swiss researchers compared anthropometric variables against Ironman® swim, bike, and run split times in a group of 184 agegroup triathletes (Knechtle et al. 2011). Body weight was found to have a statistically moderate effect on total race time, while body-fat percentage had a large effect on total race time and a moderate effect (bordering on large) on swim, bike, and run splits. Both body weight and body-fat percentage were more strongly correlated with split times and total race time than are training variables such as average weekly training time.

The Racing Weight Series™ is the proven weight-loss program for endurance athletes. Find Racing Weight, Racing Weight Cookbook, or Racing Weight Quick Start Guide in your local bookstore; bike, tri, or running shop; or from these online retailers:Racing Weight Cookbook Lean Light Recipes for AthletesRacing Weight 2nd Ed. RW2 96dpi 400x600p strokeRWQSG 72dpi_400x600_stroke Racing Weight Quick Start Guide

The Racing Weight Series™ is published by VeloPress, the leading publisher of books about endurance sports.

Tall and Lanky vs. Small and Lean: How Does Body Type Affect Athletic Performance?

Each sport favors a particular body type.

body typeDuring the Olympics, we stumbled across a blog post on a photo book called The Athlete by sports photographers Howard Schatz and Beverly Ornstein. This book is a collection of photographs of Olympic athletes wearing very little–and perhaps a bit more oiled up than is strictly necessary. Nevertheless, to see a tiny figure skater next to a weightlifter is a fascinating reminder that the elites in our sports are elite in part because of how they are built.

The BBC picked up on the fun of this during the London Olympics with this “body type matcher” where readers could enter just two variables–weight and height–to be matched with an Olympian of the same stats. Obviously, this little web app is so simplistic that it’s really for entertainment.

Racing Weight explores the average body types of athletes in cross-country skiing, cycling, rowing, running, swimming, and triathlon. Why? To show how the demands of each sport enforce body composition types.

Racing Weight explains why each average body type makes sense for each sport, but here’s the basic message: the best athletes in any sport tend to be built in ways advantageous to that sport’s demands.

The best basketball players are tall because the point-scoring method involves a 10-foot high basket. The best football linebackers are massive because their job is to be immovable.

So what’s the best body type for endurance sports? Mostly, one that is light and lean.

In fact, weight and body-fat percentages are more strongly correlated with finish times than training variables. That’s right, the fastest elites also have the least body fat. Why?

  • Because they are more efficient (less gravity to overcome),
  • dissipate heat better (less insulation), and
  • can send more oxygen to muscle when there’s less oxygen demand from fatty tissue.

The Racing Weight Series™ is the proven weight-loss program for endurance athletes. Find Racing Weight, Racing Weight Cookbook, or Racing Weight Quick Start Guide in your local bookstore; bike, tri, or running shop; or from these online retailers:Racing Weight Cookbook Lean Light Recipes for AthletesRacing Weight 2nd Ed. RW2 96dpi 400x600p strokeRWQSG 72dpi_400x600_stroke Racing Weight Quick Start Guide

The Racing Weight Series™ is published by VeloPress, the leading publisher of books about endurance sports.

Carb Up! Low-Carb Diets Can Hurt Athletic Performance

Carbohydrate restriction in many popular diets actually hurt endurance sports performance

In the new edition of Racing Weight, author and certified sports nutritionist Matt Fitzgerald debunks the low-carb approach to dieting.

rwc_website_background_1500.jpgLow-carb diets restrict calories from carbohydrates, a fuel source that dozens of studies over decades have shown to be the most critical fuel source for high performing endurance athletes. Citing a wide variety of recent academic studies that show decreases in performance among devotees of low-carb “diets with a name”, Fitzgerald argues that among endurance athletes, carbohydrate is king.

From the new edition of Racing Weight:

Such diets typically do not deprive athletes of the total calories they need to support their training. But like the popular weight-loss diets, they do tend to deprive athletes of adequate carbohydrate. Also, their restrictive, imbalanced nature makes them just as hard to sustain as low-calorie diets. Research dating back almost a century has demonstrated that low-carb diets such as the Zone Diet reduce the body’s capacity to handle higher training loads. In 2002, researchers at Kingston University in England looked at the effect of the Zone Diet on training capacity in runners (Jarvis et al. 2002). Volunteers were required to run as long as they could at a fixed intensity of 80 percent of VO2max on two separate occasions: before starting the Zone Diet and again after a week on the Zone Diet. The average time to exhaustion before the Zone Diet was 37:41. A week later the average time to exhaustion had dropped all the way downto 34:06. Just seven days of inadequate carb intake had reduced these runners’ intensive endurance by nearly 10 percent.

Fitzgerald offers a few other critiques of the Paleo Diet in this recent post on Triathlete.com. Read more on the Paleo Diet and the Zone Diet’s effects on performance in Racing Weight, 2nd Ed..

The Racing Weight Series™ is the proven weight-loss program for endurance athletes. Find Racing Weight, Racing Weight Cookbook, or Racing Weight Quick Start Guide in your local bookstore; bike, tri, or running shop; or from these online retailers:Racing Weight Cookbook Lean Light Recipes for AthletesRacing Weight 2nd Ed. RW2 96dpi 400x600p strokeRWQSG 72dpi_400x600_stroke Racing Weight Quick Start Guide

The Racing Weight Series™ is published by VeloPress, the leading publisher of books about endurance sports.

What’s Your Body Type: Cyclist, Runner, Triathlete, Rower, or Swimmer?

Each sport favors a particular body type.

Racing Weight explores the average body types of athletes in cross-country skiing, cycling, rowing, running, swimming, and triathlon and explains how each body type is suited to its sport.

So what body type do you have?

Racing Weight and Body Mass Index BMI for athletes

The Runner’s Body: Let’s face it, top runners and light and skinny. Elite male marathoners average 7% body fat (only cross-country skiers are leaner) and women weigh in at 12% body fat, the leanest of all endurance sports. Why? Runners who have less gravity to fight with each step are more efficient.

The Cyclist’s Body: There’s more than one body type in cycling because cyclists often specialize in climbing or time trialing. Cyclists tend to be twiggy up top with muscular legs. Cyclists range from 6-11% body fat for men and 12-16% body fat for women. The average elite climber is 5′ 7″ and 130 pounds. The typical time trialist body is 6 feet and 147 lbs.

The Swimmer’s Body: The best swimmers are very tall, often with unusually long torsos and arms. They have large feet and flexible ankles–great for kicking propulsion. Swimmers carry more body fat than other endurance athletes: 10-12% for men and 19-21% for women. Why? Fat is more buoyant than muscle. One study also found that swimmers’ bodies add fat because of repeated exposure to cold water.

The Triathlete’s Body: The three-sport discipline of triathlon allows for great leeway in the body types of the best triathletes. The nature of the sport means that there are more ways to win, which lessens the competitive selection pressure on body type. Triathletes are often tall, but not exclusively so. Male elites have body fat percentages from 6-10% and females range between 12-15%.

The Cross-Country Skier’s Body: Elite cross-country skiers tend to be average height or slightly tall. They are muscular but the leanest of any endurance sport. Average male: 5′ 10″, 165 lbs, and 5% body fat | Average female: 5′ 7″, 141 lbs, and 11% body fat

The Rower’s Body: In rowing, mass is an advantage so the sport is divided into lightweight and heavyweight classes. Both classes feature muscular bodies. Men have body fat ranges under 8% while women are in the 12-16% range.

The Racing Weight Series™ is the proven weight-loss program for endurance athletes. Find Racing Weight, Racing Weight Cookbook, or Racing Weight Quick Start Guide in your local bookstore; bike, tri, or running shop; or from these online retailers:Racing Weight Cookbook Lean Light Recipes for AthletesRacing Weight 2nd Ed. RW2 96dpi 400x600p strokeRWQSG 72dpi_400x600_stroke Racing Weight Quick Start Guide

The Racing Weight Series™ is published by VeloPress, the leading publisher of books about endurance sports.

Why Are Leaner Athletes Faster?

Research, common sense, and race experience have shown that leaner athletes tend to be faster. Why? It’s not just gravity.

Why Skinny Athletes Are Faster - Racing WeightGravity

It’s the most obvious reason. We’ve all felt the heaviness that comes with fatigue while running or riding uphill. Swimmers that have to move larger limbs get tired more quickly, too.

Competition for Oxygen

One of the most crucial underpinnings of endurance performance is the ability to deliver oxygen to the working muscles at a high rate. As body-fat levels go down, aerobic capacity goes up, because muscle has less competition from fat tissue for oxygen and fuel.

Heat Dissipation

The primary function of body fat, of course, is insulation. An athlete’s ability to dissipate heat is an important performance factor in all forms of long-distance racing. While this ability is partly a function of the ratio of body surface area to body volume, this ratio is smaller in bigger athletes. So excess body fat impedes heat dissipation. It’s easier to stay cool on a long ride on a hot summer day if you’re very lean.

Fat-Burning vs. Carb-Burning

Sure, heavier athletes have more mass to move, but body fat isn’t just dead weight. Fat is a metabolically active organ that affects exercise metabolism in important ways that are not yet fully understood. One thing we do know is that athletes with larger amounts of body fat burn less fat and more carbohydrate at lower exercise intensities. Since the body burns carbs during racing but can only store small amounts of carbs, less lean athletes will burn through their valuable carb stores before leaner athletes.

Inertia

Lighter cyclists can accelerate more efficiently. Good criterium riders are often smaller riders who can match surges in the race more quickly than others.

Swimmers with heavier limbs have to use more energy to move their arms and legs.

But small athletes are often at an advantage on flat courses. Why? Inertia and hydrodynamics.

Hydrodynamics

In swimming, the fastest athletes tend to be tall and rangy instead of broad. Their narrower bodies present less frontal area in the water, making them more hydrodynamic.

But Get This…

Excess fat hurts performance, but excess muscle is in fact even more detrimental because it is far more dense, which is why we’re as unlikely to see a muscle-bound Tour de France winner as an obese one.

But what constitutes excess muscle is very different from what constitutes excess body fat since muscle is the engine of movement whereas body fat makes no contribution to endurance performance beyond providing energy for low-intensity exercise. Even the skinniest runner carries enough body fat to fuel 24 hours of continuous exercise.

Too Much Fat Is Bad for Athletes in Many Ways

Not only are top-level athletes quite lean, but also body composition is an excellent predictor of performance at all levels of endurance sports.

The Racing Weight Series™ is the proven weight-loss program for endurance athletes. Find Racing Weight, Racing Weight Cookbook, or Racing Weight Quick Start Guide in your local bookstore; bike, tri, or running shop; or from these online retailers:Racing Weight Cookbook Lean Light Recipes for AthletesRacing Weight 2nd Ed. RW2 96dpi 400x600p strokeRWQSG 72dpi_400x600_stroke Racing Weight Quick Start Guide

The Racing Weight Series™ is published by VeloPress, the leading publisher of books about endurance sports.

Racing Weight Cookbook: Flaxseed & Herb-Crusted Chicken

Racing Weight Cookbook delivers more than 100 flavorful, easy recipes for athletes that will help you hit your ideal weight without compromising your performance.

This is a Level 2 recipe, meaning it will take a little bit more time (30 minutes) and is intended for athletes who have some cooking experience in the kitchen. But the effort will pay off! The crisp flaxseed crust keeps the chicken wonderfully moist inside. You can use golden or brown flaxseed; the only difference is color.Racing Weight Cookbook: Flaxseed & Herb-Crusted Chicken

3 SERVINGS // 30 MINUTES
Recipe profile: High Protein

cooking spray
¼ cup ground golden flaxseed
2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
½ teaspoon each dried dill, dried oregano, garlic powder, and salt
¹/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons egg substitute or 1 egg, beaten
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and place wire rack on top of it. Mist rack lightly with cooking spray.

2 In a shallow, wide bowl combine flaxseed, onion flakes, dill, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper. Place egg substitute or beaten egg in a separate bowl.

3 Dip one chicken breast into egg, allow excess to drip off, and press each side into flaxseed mixture to coat. Place on wire rack on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with each chicken breast.

4 Bake for 20 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in thickest part of chicken reads 160 degrees F.

Per serving: 203 calories, 5 g fat, 6 g total carbohydrate, 4 g dietary fiber, 37 g protein

TIP: If you don’t have a wire rack, you can cook the chicken on a baking sheet alone.

DQS COUNT (per serving)
LEAN MEATS & FISH 1
NUTS & SEEDS 1

The Racing Weight Series™ is the proven weight-loss program for endurance athletes. Find Racing Weight, Racing Weight Cookbook, or Racing Weight Quick Start Guide in your local bookstore; bike, tri, or running shop; or from these online retailers:Racing Weight Cookbook Lean Light Recipes for AthletesRacing Weight 2nd Ed. RW2 96dpi 400x600p strokeRWQSG 72dpi_400x600_stroke Racing Weight Quick Start Guide

The Racing Weight Series™ is published by VeloPress, the leading publisher of books about endurance sports.

Why Body Mass Index Doesn’t Work for Athletes

Racing Weight and Body Mass Index BMI for athletesBody mass index (BMI) has been in the news lately. It was put there put Katherine Flegal, a researcher on the epidemiology of obesity. Flegal and a few of her colleagues conducted a scientific review of past studies that had correlated body mass index with the risk of dying of various diseases. Their “meta-analysis” was published in the January 2013 edition of JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association). The reason it made news was that Flegal’s study reported that men and women who were classified as overweight (but not obese) by official BMI standards tended to live longer than people who were classified as normal weight.

What’s Wrong with This Picture?

Many strong opinions about this surprising finding were expressed. A number of Flegal’s fellow obesity experts dismissed it as an erroneous result of faulty methodology. So-called fat advocates hailed it as final proof of what they had known all along. As for me, when I read about the paper I merely felt glad that I had stopped giving credence to the BMI scale long before.

BMI, in case you don’t know, is a number that represents the relationship between a person’s height and weight. Since taller people tend to weigh more, BMI was created as a tool that people could use to determine whether they were too heavy for their height. The problem with BMI is that while it effectively neutralizes the influence of height on body weight, Body mass index makes no distinction between body fat and lean body mass. For example, a lean football player with a BMI of 25.5 and a couch potato with a huge beer belly and a BMI of 25.5 are both classified as overweight by the BMI scale, which defies common sense.

BMI vs. Body Composition

By ignoring body composition, BMI sacrifices a lot of predictive power in relation to health outcomes. In recent years, medical researchers have performed a number of studies comparing the effect of BMI versus that of body composition (or body fat percentage) on the risk for various diseases. The conclusion is always the same. While the effect of higher BMI on the risk for lifestyle diseases such as heart disease than normal-weight men and women is muddled, the connection between body fat percentage and disease risk is much stronger. In fact, heavier individuals with a low body fat percentage tend to be healthier and to live longer than skinnier individuals with a higher body fat percentage. In other words, body composition is a far better predictor of health and longevity than BMI. Doctors recently coined the term “normal weight obese” to categorize men and women who fall within the normal body weight range but have more than 30 percent body fat. Studies have found that normal weight obese individuals have the same levels of circulating inflammation markers—a major heart disease risk factor—as those who are technically obese.

Muscle vs. Fat

A second reason why lean men and women are healthier than skinny people with more fat hidden inside them has to do with muscle. Recent medical research has shown that muscle mass is as beneficial to health as excess body fat is damaging to health. Having a little extra muscle has been shown to increase metabolism, reduce insulin resistance and diabetes risk, increase bone density and lower the risk of osteoporosis, and more. Having a little extra muscle even increases longevity. A number of studies have found that, among elderly populations, those with the most muscle strength live the longest.

In addition to telling members of the general population more about their health than BMI does, body fat percentage tells endurance athletes more about their fitness than BMI does. Research has demonstrated that endurance athletes perform best at a body fat percentage that is close to the minimum they can attain through focused training and healthy eating. Regularly monitoring body fat percentage makes a lot of sense for endurance athletes. A 2 percent drop in body fat could easily correlate to a big leap forward in performance, even if your body weight—hence BMI—stays the same.

So if you aren’t yet tracking your body fat percentage, start. And if you are paying attention to headlines about BMI, stop!

The Racing Weight Series™ is the proven weight-loss program for endurance athletes. Find Racing Weight, Racing Weight Cookbook, or Racing Weight Quick Start Guide in your local bookstore; bike, tri, or running shop; or from these online retailers:Racing Weight Cookbook Lean Light Recipes for AthletesRacing Weight 2nd Ed. RW2 96dpi 400x600p strokeRWQSG 72dpi_400x600_stroke Racing Weight Quick Start Guide

The Racing Weight Series™ is published by VeloPress, the leading publisher of books about endurance sports.

Racing Weight Cookbook: Greena Colada Smoothie

Racing Weight Cookbook delivers more than 100 flavorful, easy recipes for athletes that will help you hit your ideal weight without compromising your performance.

Racing Weight Cookbook Greena Colada Smoothie Recipe

Racing Weight Cookbook: Greena Colada Smoothie – so green!

Try out this easy-to-make recipe for as a pre-workout fuel-up snack or a light post-workout recovery snack.

1 SERVING // 5 MINUTES
Recipe profile: High Carb, Vegetarian

1 14-ounce can crushed pineapple in juice (unsweetened)
¼ cup canned coconut milk
1 cup baby spinach, loosely packed
1 serving protein powder (optional)

Blend all ingredients until smooth.

Makes one 16-ounce smoothie.

Per serving: 400 calories, 11 g fat, 66 g carbohydrate, 4 g dietary fiber, 2 g protein

WHY USE PROTEIN POWDER?

Protein powder can be a convenient way to meet your protein needs, whether you are making hot cereal for a preworkout breakfast, blending a recovery smoothie, or baking for postworkout snacks. We recommend buying a whey protein powder that is low in fat and sugar and is free of additional anabolic ingredients (e.g., creatine monohydrate) that are unnecessary for endurance athletes. Look for a basic whey protein powder with 20 or more grams of protein and fewer than 175 calories per serving (typically 30 g). If you have an allergy or intolerance to whey or dairy protein, soy protein is a generally tasty alternative. As for flavors, vanilla is the most versatile and complements all other tastes.

Feel free to omit protein powder from your smoothies. In baked goods, you can simply add the equivalent amount of flour.

DQS COUNT (per serving):
FRUITS 1
VEGETABLES 1

The Racing Weight Series™ is the proven weight-loss program for endurance athletes. Find Racing Weight, Racing Weight Cookbook, or Racing Weight Quick Start Guide in your local bookstore; bike, tri, or running shop; or from these online retailers:Racing Weight Cookbook Lean Light Recipes for AthletesRacing Weight 2nd Ed. RW2 96dpi 400x600p strokeRWQSG 72dpi_400x600_stroke Racing Weight Quick Start Guide

The Racing Weight Series™ is published by VeloPress, the leading publisher of books about endurance sports.