A Shift to More Nutrient Dense and Higher Protein Foods the Fortnight Prior to BWOWM

It is a little less than a fortnight until BIKE WITH (OR WITHOUT) MELINDA, the Labor Day weekend social biking event I host every year (since 1999) in Shell Lake WI, and I am embarking on a pre-ride health challenge to consume a diet richer in nutrient dense and higher protein (healthy) foods to prepare me for the event.

The ride is just a social one of about 50 miles round trip between Shell Lake and Stone Lake WI, with many rest stops for refreshments and food, much of which will be nutrient poor and calorie high. It is not a race but I need to make sure my body has maximum good nutrition before the ride. I also want to reduce my weight by a few pounds, which the ride is sure to restore.

The idea for this challenge came because I got a new grill from my family as a house warming gift after I moved to Madison. My sister inspired me to use it often to cook lean meats and vegetables (it has a slick vegetable cooker tray). I fully plan to do so.

It is also nearing the end of summer proper and my activity levels begin to drop as it gets cold in Wisconsin. That means more storage of empty calories as fat, so I need to adapt my dietary lifestyle to compensate. This challenge will serve as a reset for my summer dietary habits, which tend to be less restrictive due to my frequent physical activity, transitioning to winter habits that are healthier.

At work, the cafeteria has a decent salad bar with a variety of nutrient dense and high protein foods. This is fortunate with respect to my fitness challenge. I am not a dieter, in the sense of restricting calories. Instead, I change the type of calories and the ratio between nutrition and calories. That is, I focus on foods with a high nutrient density relative to calorie content, which are healthier and stimulate less weight gain due to their minimal impact on insulin metabolism.

Beans and nuts and eggs have calories, but the ratio of nutrients to calories is higher than in say, ice cream, which has a lot of empty calories relative to nutrient content.

The salad I bought for lunch today  contained, in no particular order:

Chick peas - protein/dense
Red and green peppers - dense
Broccoli - dense
Mushrooms - protein/dense
HB egg - protein/dense
Walnuts - protein/dense
Spinach - dense
Grilled chicken - protein/dense
Newman's Own Light Italian Dressing (1 packet) - dense (80 calories, all from olive and vegetable oils)
Newman's Own Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing (1 packet) - dense (150 calories, from olive and sugar)

The vinaigrette dressing is the only source of refined carbohydrate in this salad and I probably should have avoided it, but it adds a lot of flavor. The Newman's Own brand of light Italian dressing is the only one I know of that contains no sugar at all.

I also avoided dairy in this salad, though I had the option to add several kinds of cheese, including cottage.

I also avoided the mock crab meat, which, albeit high in protein, has a questionable manufacturing process.

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