Eating clean by Luis
Posted 02:11 PM, September 02 2012

Just this week I started a Facebook group where I shared my recent changes to my eating habits. Although this is recent effort, to get to this point I have to go way back in my life. Weight has always been a battle for me, so I had to look back at my life and how my weight fluctuated and why. I also looked into all the recent diets out there and took what I thought may work for me. But best of all, I tried to not just follow something written in a book. I learned as much as possible and came up with something that I think can be sustained long term. As all of you know, the biggest problem with diets is that after a while we get off them and the weight comes back.

You need motivation. We all need a great amount of motivation to change our eating habits. This is even more important if our eating habits are emotional and we eat for comfort. Food makes people happy in many cases, so changing something that makes you happy will be difficult. For me the motivation came after the Boulder Sprint Triathlon. I put on some additional pounds earlier this year, and my race was horrible. I was mad at myself and I knew it was not because I did not train. It was because I weighed too much relative to the competition. I had to change what I eat and eat less.

I also had this video from 60 minutes on my head. Watch it.

Sugar is toxic and it can be habit forming. Hope you watched the video. I have always liked carbohydrates, maybe not so much sweets but rice, bread, pasta, potatoes, cake, chocolate and many others. Some people are just like me and some are not. I always tell the story of my two kids. One is like me. If there is a cookie to eat it will be gone quickly. The other is different. I find half eaten candy bars or cake left over. Wow! Lucky kid. A person's make-up makes us more susceptible to the good feelings we get from food. But like any addiction, there has to be a way to beat it. One challenge, however, is that sugar is everywhere. Food makers add it to many foods that we will assume are sugar free. Just last week I went to whole foods and upon asking I was told their chicken stock has added sugar. Natural it may be, but added sugar on chicken stock? Unbelievable! Cutting added sugar was going to take some work.

Three basic rules. The first rule is to not eat any sugar, foods with added sugar or super sweet foods. This means no candy, no pastries, no cake, nothing whatsoever that a machine or a human added sugar to. This also includes honey, syrup and artificial sweeteners. We have to starve the body from that high that we get when tasting super sweet foods. This will be very hard to do in the beginning, perhaps the hardest thing in this program.   You have to read the labels. The second rule is to eat foods in their raw form as much as possible. I cut sport bars, premixed drinks, most packaged food, bread, gels, spreads and many others. In my case I also cut rice as it's mostly carbohydrates with limited nutritional value. The last rule is to only eat what you need so as to not eat extra calories. Even if you only eat veggies and fruit you can eat too many calories. Figure out your basal metabolic rate. There are many online calculators that can help you figure it out. Mine is about 2200 calories. I then added 500 calories for every hour of exercise on any given day and that gave me the number of calories my body needs to maintain weight. Since I wanted to lose weight, I took 500 calories off that number and I got my calorie goal for each day. I use which is an online service where I type my foods and it calculates my calories and break down of carbohydrates, protein and fats.

The suggested foods. Here is what I have been eating. First we need to make sure we get carbohydrates. You will find that when added sugar is no longer consumed the amount of carbohydrates goes way down. However we still need carbohydrates. I got the majority of mine from fruits and from quinoa. Quinoa looked really boring to me as my replacement for rice and bread, but I now really like it and look forward to having it with many other foods. It is technically a seed vegetable but looks like a grain and it has a lot of protein as well, not to mention fiber so it fills you up. Quinoa replaced all the bread, pasta and rice I used to eat and the added protein and nutrients are a great plus. Like quinoa but to a lesser extent, I eat plenty of black beans. In the fruit world I buy many kinds: apples, grapes, strawberries, peaches, bananas, pears, mangoes, blueberries. That is my list, but most fruits are fair game. Some may be high in the glycemic index, but they have no added sugar, have fiber and you can use them when feeling weak and in need of some carbohydrates. 

Fruits of your choice

In the world of protein I eat lean beef. You want to get "choice" or "select" grading cuts and also look for cuts with the fat trimmed. Also you want to get grass fed beef. I also eat chicken. The best would be white meat which is breast. You want to cut out the skin. Buy free range chicken. You pay more for grass fed beef and free range chicken, but it's worth it to avoid all the hormones and antibiotics. I also eat fish and seafood about once a week. I like Salmon. I eat eggs and buy egg whites. Finally, I also take protein powder from BiPro USA mixed in with some unsweetened almond milk. It's not raw food but the only reason I consume this is because it's the only way to get sufficient protein without added fats or carbohydrates from real food.

If you are a vegetarian and do not eat meat then use tofu and whatever else you get your protein from.  

Lean grass feed beef
Free range chicken no skin
Fish and seafood
BiPro USA Protein powder

Finally fats. Here I get mine from seafood and from nuts like almonds. I also make my own olive oil, sea salt and balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing. 

Olive Oil
Flax seeds
Cold water fish like Salmon

More nutrients. Finally you want to eat salads every day. Here color is the game. Get as many colors in your salad and eat away. There are two veggies that you must include: kale and brussel sprouts. These two veggies are not the tastiest, but they are some of the most nutrient rich ones.

Snacks.   When cutting back on sugar, it will be important to not eat even a little added sugar at first. No sugary snacks will be important. Use fruit as a snack. I also found a nice snack thanks to my young daughter, toasted seaweed. Like shell fish it has iodine so if allergic to it be careful. But I use it to kill a craving. Finally I also drink black coffee. If I have to put some sort of sweetener I use agave as it is low glycemic. But for the first week it would be better to skip the Agave and maybe put some unsweetened almond milk.

Endurance athletes need carbohydrates. Triathletes and endurance athletes need carbohydrates in order to be able to train. If you decide to try something similar to what I recommend here you may find yourself short of carbohydrates. Training can get very challenging for endurance athletes, and I would not recommend anyone start this if they have a big race soon. Wait for a good period when you do not have to be worried about going fast.

Here are some recommendations for when you do train long:

  • Go easy. Make sure you burn fat and save your precious glycogen.
  • Eat a good meal before you go.
  • Take fruit as snacks. Figs are a great source as athletes used to eat them before sports drinks were invented.
  • Try drinking some natural coconut juice during long training.
  • Bring some fast calories like a sports drink in case you get weak and start bonking. In theory they will get absorbed quickly and not cause as much an insulin release.

Training may be challenging and these nutrition recommendations is not what I recommend for race day or in final preparation for a race. But in order to break the sugar cravings, be healthier and be at the right weight it will be important to try.

This has to be maintainable. In order to break from the sugar addition and craving you will need to be very strong and stay away. Do not put yourself in an environment with a lot of temptation. However, it will be impossible to clean the entire environment especially outside the home. Once this is accomplished everything will become easier. The good foods here will become tastier and you can give yourself some more freedom of choice as long as the general guidelines are followed.

For any questions join my FaceBook group at

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