1. What diet/nutrition plan did you use at sea?
For the Atlantic, a typical day’s menu was:
- Oats 2 Go with all the trimmings –
- hemp protein powder, dried whole milk, nuts, dried fruit, ground ginger and cinnamon
- Scrambled eggs with ham (using rehydrated omelette pieces and dried milk) with seasoning and freeze-dried herbs
- Cod and Potato Casserole with added freeze-dried prawns, peas and sweetcorn
Snacks throughout the day and night:
- 9 Bar (mixed seed bar with hemp) x 4
- Flapjack x 2
- Dried fruit and nuts
- Hot chocolate
- Dandelion coffee
- Go and Re-Go sports drinks
This turned out to be approximately:
My nutrition programme for the Atlantic generally worked very well, but although I loved my flapjacks and nut/seed/carob bars, they contained quite a lot of sugar. This was fine while I was on the ocean, burning over 3,000 calories a day, but my sugar addiction caused significant problems once I got back to dry land. It resulted not only in very rapid weight gain, but also in scary sugar cravings that left me shaking with the need for a cookie or other sugar fix. It took me 8 months to kick my sugar habit. So now I take very few containing refined sugar – just occasional treats. My LaraBars contain only fruit, nuts and spices, with no added sugar.
With each ocean crossing I’ve since refined and improved my nutrition strategy, moving away from processed foods and towards a largely raw, mostly vegan diet. So my shopping list for 2010 looked something like this:
100 freeze dried dinners
10lb dried fruit
4 jars coconut spread
4 jars chocolate syrup
4 lb coconut powder - really excellent added to most things, sweet or savoury, and full of calories
Assorted rawfood crackers – made for me by friends in Maui and California.
Oats2Go instant porridge
2 lb of biltong – in case I get a major protein craving
4kg of beans, peas and lentils for sprouting
Nama shoyu sauce and 6 jars tahini – great mixed with the sprouted beans
And no doubt a bit of chocolate will find its way on board as well! For its anti-oxidant properties, obviously….
And although this is a super-healthy diet, just to make sure, I’ll also be taking Biocare vitamin supplements (multivitamin, multimineral, calcium and magnesium).
I haven’t worked out the carb/fat/protein percentages for this – but if you want to do so, please let me know the results!
For further reading on sports nutrition generally, these books are good starting points:
The Complete Guide to Sports Nutrition (Complete Guides) by Anita Bean
The Endurance Training (Complete Guide to) by Jon Ackland
2. Where did you source your food?
Largely through donations of product. Larabar and Wilderness Family Naturals have been especially generous. I haven’t managed to get a sponsor for my expedition meals. The best deal I got on those was when I scavenged around the leftovers left in Antigua by the other crews at the end of the Atlantic Rowing Race!
3. Any tips with regards to foods?
Take a good variety, and some treats. After my daily mileage (or maybe on an equal par!) food is the most important thing in my life while I am on the ocean. It is a reward, a consolation, and the source of endless happy daydreams. Some rowers take daily ration packs, so they have broadly the same pattern of meals every day. I prefer to treat my lockers more like kitchen cupboards – expedition meals in one, Larabars in another, nuts in a third – so I can pick and choose according to what I feel like eating.
I used sports drinks – Go Electrolyte and ReGo Protein – on the Atlantic. They were okay, and I know some people like them. For me, I’m just as happy to use plain water, and the water from my watermaker tastes pretty good. So I’m just as happy to save my money and do without these rather highly processed, artificial products.
I also really enjoy growing my beansprouts. It really is dead easy. I use a Sproutamo pot, which I keep in a string bag tucked under the side deck in the rowing cockpit, secured to a D-ring with a lanyard. Soak the beans for 8 hours, drain them, then rinse with water twice a day. After 2-3 days you have fresh crunchy beansprouts, full of fibre, vitamins and enzymes. It’s really great to have fresh veg even while at sea, and growing your own gives a great sense of satisfaction.
4.Hydration; what drinks did you use on board? Did you use any supplements during the row or for your training?
5. How did you work out how much food to take?
For the Atlantic Rowing Race, I calculated my normal Resting Metabolic Rate on dry land by counting calories over a period of several months, measuring my weight, and adjusting the result depending on how many hours of exercise I had done each day (RMR being the number of calories I would burn if I did NO exercise in a day).
RMR = 1808 cals/day, or about 75 cals/hr
Then I worked out how many calories I burned at various heart rates (bpm), starting with generic estimates for calories burned per hour for running, rowing, etc., and adjusting them for my bodyweight, with further refinement based on my empirical observations.
So to calculate my calories:At 105 bpm, I burn 165 cals/hr.
(16 hrs x 75 cals) + (8 hrs x 165 cals) = 2968 cals/day
So for each of the 3 stages of the Pacific (each of which is about as long as the Atlantic crossing) I will need:
100 x 3000 cals = 300,000 cals
Or a total of 900,000 calories to get me all the way across the Pacific. But I don’t really count calories any more – I just take plenty of everything, and eat what I want, when I want. Even so I tend to lose around 30 lb on each ocean crossing.
6. Any foods you wished you had brought?
I always get food cravings for various unobtainable things while I’m out on the ocean. Eggs, caramel lattes, cookies, cakes and scones, bread and butter. Fresh fruit and avocados. Sushi. But none of these are things that would last for more than a couple of days out of port. I do take some fresh foods with me and make them last as long as I can. And then once they’re gone, they’re gone.