Review: Racing Weight series

For the past two years, my focus has been on losing weight – lots of weight. I lost over 100 lbs following the P90X nutrition guide  and its ultra low-carb diet, but it is very much a “do as I say” guide without much explanation or customization.

Eventually, I got hurt in late 2013 and had to stop running for several months. The idea of regaining that weight (which I did during finals/holidays – around 25 lbs) horrified me, so I went extremely low calorie to lose weight again. I had a “good diet” – all lean protein and vegetables, but very little of either.

I was carb starved and running & coaching endurance sports. I constantly felt drained and when I hit the wall in a long run, it was brutal. Something had to change. I had heard of Matt Fitzgerald’s nutrition program from magazines and Amazon suggestions, so I read up on it.

Let me lay it out clearly, Racing Weight is an amazing nutrition system built specifically for endurance athletes.

RW QSG cover

The Racing Weight Quick Start Guide is, contrary to what I thought, not merely an excerpt from the main book. The Quick Start Guide is meant for (a) people who have 20+ lbs to lose, and (b) athletes coming from an off-season. The plan in this book is more strict and meant to let one drop body fat quickly, transitioning into the optimal racing weight maintenance mode of the main book.

In the first few chapters, you will take your height/weight/BF%/etc. and the author will guide you through several formulas to get your racing weight, TDEE, and other useful numbers. Next, you will get an explanation of the Diet Quality Score (DQS) – the real heart of this system. In short, you try to eat such that you maximize your DQS by matching up your food with a matrix in the book. An ideal diet is a DQS of 32, but a score of 25+ is very good. The Quick Start Guide will help you learn the DQS system by providing sample meal plans for athletes at different caloric levels.

Finally, the author sets up several training plans to maximize the effectiveness of the Racing Weight nutrition system. I have to admit, I had already picked out my 1/2 marathon training program so while I read these, I have not followed one.

Bottom line: The Racing Weight Quick Start Guide is a great way to get introduced into the Racing Weight system. The math is all together and at the beginning of the book – very nice.

The foods & meals are limited, so if you want variety you will need to pick up the Racing Weight Cookbook (see below). But you could easily work the Racing Weight system down to your optimal weight with just this book.

Racing Weight Cookbook Lean, Light Recipes for Athletes

The Racing Weight Cookbook picks up where the Quick Start Guide leaves off. You get an abbreviated explanation of the DQS system, then it is right into the recipes (which is why we are here, after all).

The recipes are split into three categories, based on the culinary comfort level of the athlete – can’t cook, can cook, & loves to cook. Don’t worry that the “can’t cook” recipes are limited to cold cereal, or that the “love to cook” recipes are all Iron Chef level. The big difference seems to be (1) the number of ingredients, and (2) the prep time.

I have been using the Racing Weight Cookbook for about a week, and I have already found some new favorite foods. The Cinnamon-Raisin Wheat-berry Bowl is my new go-to weekend breakfast.

The real reason to pick up the Racing Weight Cookbook is that each recipe has the DQS breakdown at the bottom of the page. This simplifies calculating your daily DQS immensely, and knowing that the recipes are all balanced is great. There is also an index in the back separating out the recipes in “High Protein”, “High Carb”, and “Recovery” categories. Very nice when you are working out the next day’s meal plan.

Bottom line: The Racing Weight Cookbook is not strictly necessary for the Racing Weight system. However, it makes the process of entering into the DQS mindset so much easier that it may as well be.

If you want to jump into Racing Weight, do yourself a favor and pick up the Racing Weight Cookbook as well. Good food, good system – it is my preferred nutrition plan.


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