The 3-2-1 Diet

A little while ago now coach and I decided between us that there may be some performance gains to be had if I was to attempt to become leaner. We decided 7-14 pounds was the initial realistic aim. The target weight was one I had achieved in the past, but I was training for a half iron distance triathlon at the time so it was easier to do (I remember due to the volume of long distance training I struggled to keep weight on at that time actually!) I tried the return to the weight watchers diet. It had always worked excellently for me. This time, though, I struggled. On weight watchers, I just wasn’t getting enough calories to sustain the volume and intensity of the training. I became very tired, and my performance started to suffer.

I needed a Nutritionist to give me advice. Luckily, I found Becky White, via Twitter (@onesixeightfit) and asked for her help. This was just before Budapest, so travelling and dining out meant I couldn’t really give the advice she gave me a proper go until this week, when I was back in England again.

I have to admit I found her advice very contrary to what I had been taught at weight watchers. She told me to train BEFORE meals, and to always try and do one session before breakfast each day. She called this the fat burning session. I had always thought I needed the food for fuel. I was instructed to eat a piece of fruit (to kick start the metabolism) and drink black coffee (to stave off hunger pangs) before I went out in the morning. This seemed very odd. The first time I tried it, I had a tough swim set in store. I had done this set earlier in the week, mid afternoon, half way between lunch and tea. I did it at 6.30am, with just an apple and my black coffee to keep me going, and found each speed set was significantly faster than it had been that afternoon a few days earlier. I was amazed. Becky wasn’t at all surprised!

So, maybe she was on to something? I was told to eat twice as much porridge as I had been doing for breakfast (jeeez, that was hard work at first!) I had to eat a medium sized lunch, with pasta, or something, then a light tea, filled out with mostly vegetables. I found this really tough at first. By the following morning, I was STARVING when I went out for my empty stomach ‘fat burning’ training session! I was told that food was fuel, so I had to eat wisely, only snack on fruit or nuts, and switch from tea to back coffee. Ok, odd, but I’ll give it a try. However, the thing that surprised me most was she told me I ate too many foods that contained man made sweeteners and I should cut them out. This was THE OPPOSITE to weight watchers. I took that thought to the weight watchers leader. She declared it nonsense. Well, if I am going to try it, I may as well try ALL of it, so I stopped buying diet foods, and cut back on things containing man made sweeteners. Seemed very very strange. I had got so used to choosing the low fat diet options! But, if you are in doubt as to the logic of this advice, so was I. See the separate blog on aspartame. I did my homework, then decided it was worth a try. Becky had not met me, knew nothing about me yet immediately asked was I struggling to get rid of the last few pounds, when I showed her my food diary.

So, 3-2-1 meals, black coffee, more veg, more fruit and HUGE breakfasts, and main meals within an hour of training sessions. One full week of trying that, and I went to weight watchers this Wednesday. It is also worth noting that this week has been a recovery week, post World Championships, so I have also done WAY less training than usual.

Despite this, I lost 4 pounds this week! The weight watchers leader asked what I had done. I reminded her about the nutrition advice. She was astounded. She said she honestly hadn’t expected it to work! Neither had I!

The main thing I took from this is that I need to start reminding myself that my body is the machine, and the food is the fuel. I am an athlete. I can’t just eat whatever I like, whenever I like. I need to think about what fuel combinations are best. The early training sessions can be tough to get up for some times, but with results like these… I’m keeping on this 3-2-1 diet for now!! I have had NO trouble with training intensity while on this food regime, so I’m a very happy bunny!

read more about the 3-2-1 diet and WHY it works here

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