A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Weight Loss Wednesday: Racing Weight

on June 24, 2015

Last month, I read Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald and as I’m starting my training plan this week, I thought this would be a good time to talk about it as I’ll be incorporating some of these concepts into my eating for the next couple of months.

imageOne of the interesting things about this book from the beginning is that it takes the perspective that there is no ideal body weight. There’s the body weight and composition that allows you to have the best performance and that will be different for everyone. The first few chapters go into some interesting science about why performance might be better if you’re carrying around less fat but really keeps the focus on how those things affect your athletic performance rather than how you look or any particular number. As my goal this year is to get a healthier place in my relationship with food, where I’m seeing it as fuel rather than an enemy or something to be controlled, I really appreciated this perspective. That’s definitely the approach I’ve been taking for the last month in terms of making food choices and for the most part, it’s worked well.

DQSThe backbone of Fitzgerald’s approach is something called the Diet Quality Score. As you can see above, you get points for eating the “right” amount of foods that are better fuel for workouts in particular and overall health in general, with negative points for foods that aren’t adding much nutritional value or intriguingly, too many servings of things that are “good” in the right amounts. He specifically calls out carbohydrates as being something that runners need to be sure they are getting enough of, which is important given a lot of trends towards low carb and gluten free perspectives right now.

Interestingly, there isn’t a target number for your Diet Quality Score or even the recommendation that you track it every day. Instead, he suggests you check in periodically to see if it is getting higher and how that is correlating with your performance, your body weight, your body fat percentage, etc. As someone who lived and died by my daily points target for years at Weight Watchers, this boggled my mind a bit but I think at this point, I could handle something like this. It also goes back to one of the recurring themes of the book – this isn’t about dieting, it’s about performance. Restriction isn’t the goal here, quality is. It’s also interesting that there’s no mention of “earning” extra food by exercising. Your workouts are what you do because that’s part of your fitness goal, not something  you’re tracking to “buy” yourself a cookie.

Thank goodness this isn’t intended as a diet book, because this approach definitely would not have worked for me when I was trying to lose 100 pounds. 🙂 The whole idea of self-regulating what you eat (which includes a lot of tips like being intentional in your plan for what and how much you’ll eat, learning to recognize true hunger cues, etc that are covered a lot more effectively in the Beck Diet book in my opinion) may not be effective for people who are interested in weight loss. Weight loss may be a benefit of optimal fueling your athletic performance, but if that’s your goal, I don’t know that this would be the book for you.

I liked the discussion of the science early on and the fact that he is fairly upfront about things where the science isn’t strong yet. I also liked that he explicitly calls out a little bit of chocolate or wine as good things to include in your daily diet (thus, I added wine to my list of acceptable alternatives to night time snacking) and that the occasional french fry off your kid’s plate won’t kill you. I did sometimes feel like this book wasn’t talking to me, particularly. It did feel like it was targeted more at front of the packers in a lot of places, but that may have been my own projection onto the material. It also doesn’t give you a whole lot of concrete guidance for what to do, but there are companion cookbooks and things you could get as well. There are sample daily menus included, which are interesting, but because they come from elite athletes, I had a hard time seeing how they would apply to me. That’s a common complaint in the Amazon reviews as well.

All in all, I found this book really interesting conceptually and I’d definitely recommend checking it out at your local library if you’re interested in some of the science of food and performance and in thinking about how those things play out in your own life in a different way. Practically, I’m taking from this:

a) keep the focus on quality and performance, not the superficial stuff;

b) quality might mean adding more of good stuff like nuts, the occasional glass of wine and extra dairy;

c) eating good stuff doesn’t mean eating ALL THE THINGS – even healthy foods need to occur in moderation.

A lot of these concepts were part of the Weight Watchers Simply Filling plan too, where you just ate good stuff. I didn’t feel like I was particularly good at the self-regulating volume part last time I tried Simply Filling. We’ll see if I do better with the “eat good stuff” model this time around.

Do you think worrying about fueling runs with your everyday diet is silly for someone looking to break 2:30 in the half marathon rather than someone looking to break 1:30? I don’t – eating well is important to all of us and if putting it in the perspective of training helps me a) break the bad link between the almighty calorie and the scale and b) stick with a reasonable, healthy diet like a sane person, that’s worth a little bit of feeling like a poser. 🙂



16 responses to “Weight Loss Wednesday: Racing Weight

  1. This is really interesting- i love the idea of considering the quality of your diet, instead of just the quantity or calories!

    • It would be nice if it was something we could all easily and automatically do, wouldn’t it? Sadly, the world is not set up to make that easy for us.

      On Wed, Jun 24, 2015 at 8:17 AM, A Little More Each Day wrote:


  2. I don’t run, but I have become a “walker”. One question? Did you say you lost 100 pounds?

    • Yep – next week I’ll be at two years of maintaining 100 lbs down. It’s hard to believe sometimes until I see old pictures of myself!


      • Wow! I didn’t know. Congratulations! I’ve lost 91 pounds. It would be great to make that 100 mark.
        But I haven’t really tried, I’ve just been maintaining. Hmm, something to think about.

  3. I agree with you that fueling your runs is important for every runner. I think it might even be more important for slower runners because we are out there longer. In my last training cycle, I used the guideline of eating the proportion of carbs related to how many hours you were training. Well, I tried to. There was absolutely no way I could eat all the recommended carbs. It was just too much. Still, I made an effort to eat more and to make them the high quality carbs that he recommended…and I gained weight. However, at the time I think I was eating more in general and letting the “eat more!” mentality creep into my diet overall. I will say that I felt the high-carb diet really did help my performance. Next time, I might try to eat more carbs while still following Weight Watchers. Not sure how possible that will be, but we’ll see.

    • That was the part that seemed a little off for me, as someone who has had trouble with controlling the volume of what I eat in the past. We’ll see how that goes this time around.


  4. I really liked Racing weight. It has really helped me to think of fueling myself and quality rather than restriction. It’s been much easier to maintain and lose weight with that mindset for me.

  5. […] of the tips in the Racing Weight was to front load carbohydrates during the day, with more protein heavy meals at night. This article […]

  6. […] training for the Des Moines half marathon and am working on thinking of food as fuel a la the Racing Weight concepts we discussed last month, I’ve decided that this month I’m not going to weigh […]

  7. […] I will weigh in once a month. I’ll also do some tracking the first week of August and use the Racing Weight score system to check in. I’ll do it again at the end of the month to be sure I’m still […]

  8. […] training, as well as some more focused yoga time. I’m also going to track my food using the Racing Weight scoring scale just to see where I am. I feel like I make good choices most of the time, but looking […]

  9. […] manage your weight and get a better understanding of nutrition, I think both Eat to Peak and Racing Weight are better choices, particularly Eat to Peak (my reviews of both through the links). If you really […]

  10. […] but training requires a lot of attention to nutrition as a whole. I’m also re-reading Racing Weight and Eat to Peak this month to refresh my nutrition basics for training and to make a […]

  11. […] I’m also going to start checking my food with the “Diet Quality Score” from Racing Weight just to give myself a little reinforcement that I’m doing the right […]

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