Book Review: Racing Weight

Feb. 14, 2014

It’s Friday Rest Day book review! Racing Weight: How to Get Lean for Peak Performance, by Matt Fitzgerald 2nd edition (2012) 296 pages.


Matt Fitzgerald is a giant in the endurance nutrition field. He regularly writes a column for Runner’s World magazine about nutrition, and has authored several books. The dude knows what he’s talking about.

In the first chapters he basically makes the case for getting lean, and gives you an idea of typical body fat percentages for athletes from different sports. Chapter 2 covers how much you should weigh, but it’s based on body fat percentages. I don’t yet have a body fat scale, so this wasn’t much help to me. Chapter 3 talks about various different diets and how to eat for training versus eating like a non-athlete who wants to lose weight. The next 6 chapters lay out the 6 steps of his weight loss plan/nutrition program. His plan in this book consists of 4 steps: 1) improve the quality of your diet 2) manage your appetite 3) balance your energy sources 4) monitor yourself 5) time your nutrition, and 6) training for racing weight.

Chapter 4 introduces you to the idea that some foods are, obviously, better than others, and something he calls “diet quality score.” Interestingly, in his plan, the diet quality score of a food can change depending on how many servings of a given type of food (e.g. refined grains) you eat. It might be good the first serving or two, but by the 4th, 5th, and so on, less so. Which makes sense. And he includes an adapted version of this for vegans and vegetarians – yay!  He also goes by servings, not ounces or volume measures like cups or tablespoons. In the next chapter, he gives some very good tips that I have personally used with great success to help control your appetite. In particular, I try to avoid having an empty stomach so that I do not get extremely hungry. Although I count calories, if I am hungry, I will eat a small amount of food. This avoids me overeating at a later time and/or becoming incredibly grouchy!

Chapter 6 talks a lot about carbohydrates and how to balance them with other macronutrients to optimize your training and performance. He points out, too, that there is no magic ratio between these macronutrients. In his chapter about monitoring, he gives advice on how to properly manage yourself so that you’re not weighing yourself too much or too little. The next chapter about timing your nutrients was extremely helpful for me, and something I really try to do. I try to eat my carbs early in the day to fuel my workouts, and protein later at night to help with recovery. He also gives some sample schedules based on a couple different workout schedules to help you get the hang of this. You get some great workout advice in the last chapter for his plan, and he also gives some advice about what kinds of proteins to eat and supplements to take to compliment training.

The next 4 chapters were really interesting, as they included 10) how to implement the steps for beginners and over a year’s training cycle 11) advice on what foods to eat 12) sample menus from several professional athletes 13) and applying the diet to special situations, such as those who want to be gluten free or vegetarians – yay!  These chapters are pretty self-explanatory, so I won’t go into as much detail about them. Really, the best part of the book is the 6 steps. Because of the amount of info in the book, his is the kind of book I recommend reading straight through, and then reference frequently and re-read several times in short-chunks as you tackle each step or have specific questions. But it’s a great book, and highly recommended as a starting point for learning more about nutrition.

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