In a world of fad diets such as veganism, carnivorism, animal-based, plant-based, ketogenic, paleo, low carbohydrate, or pescetarianism, to name a few, knowing how to eat to perform optimally can be very confusing.

Mindset Tuesdays: How I use my diet to live life with energy and health

Dillon Quitugua eating energy gel to help sustain him during the Tahoe 200 this past June in Homewood, California.

As an athlete, I have experimented with a variety of different diets to find what has worked best for me and what has helped me live a life full of energy and health so that I can continue to do the things that make me feel alive. This experimentation led to years of veganism, keto diets, and animal based diets.

Growing up CHamoru, I ate a lot of amazing food. My nåna and tåta taught me how to kåmyu coconuts for kelaguen and coconut milk, how to make coconut oil, how to prepare chicken, ducks, pork, venison and gather eggs from our own backyard.

On the other hand, I’ve also seen how poor dietary choices can hurt you. Whether it’s drinking too much alcohol, too much coffee, consuming too many processed sugary snacks, processed meats and the like. I realized there must be a balance.

Keeping a journal

So what’s the best diet for you? I wish there was an easy answer to this question. But there really isn’t one. This question rang in my brain for a very long time, and so I experimented with my diet and kept a journal of my process.

This daily dedication to log my diet allowed me to find what truly worked for my body to do the things I do, such as run 100 miles around the perimeter of Guam.

A good place to start with your diet is to eat things that make you feel good and to stop eating the things that make you feel bad. I utilize a food journal to keep track of the things that work for me. When I journal, I write down everything I ate for the day.

I don’t write down portions or count my macronutrients or micronutrients. I just allow myself to be one, more conscious of what I am eating and two, have a better understanding of why I may feel either really good or really bad during the day.

If I feel amazing one day, I’ll examine my journal for what I ate to see if it contributed to this feeling. And this works on the other side as well: if I felt terrible during a workout, I would examine my journal to find clues as to what gave me the feelings I had.

Finding guidance

My running coach, Michael “The Low Carb Runner” McKnight, is a professional ultramarathon runner. While under his tutelage, I was able to achieve the Fastest Known Time, also known as FKT, for running the Mariana’s 100 — a hundred miles around the perimeter of Guam.

Mindset Tuesdays: How I use my diet to live life with energy and health

Brandon Perez and Dillon Quitugua take a snack break during the Marianas 100 this past March on Guam.

McKnight is a special runner in that he runs without relying solely on carbohydrates to fuel his energy. He takes an approach of clean eating, with an emphasis on whole, unprocessed foods.

He describes his diet as a “high keto carnivore-ish diet consisting of a lot of meat and fat.” He has a very long list of achievements from setting course records for 200 mile races, to running 118 miles in 24 hours without eating anything!

When I asked Mike for a few words on food consumption and his career as a professional runner, he said, “I’ve been Ultra Running for 10 years, and only started eating clean 5 years ago. Before that, I was eating anything and everything because I was told it didn’t matter what kind of calories I ate, as long as I was eating calories. I eventually learned that it was garbage and started cleaning my diet up. Since then, my performance and recovery have improved drastically!”

Creating intentions

Listen, I’m not asking anyone reading this to eat a specific way or to start running ultramarathons, but I do however want to draw awareness to the fact that we will perform the best physically, mentally and emotionally when we eat well.

I believe that being more conscious about how we eat and creating intentions to better your health are great steps to achieving wellness and longevity.

How do I eat, you might ask? As a highly active person, I feel best with raw fish, beef, pork, fruits, vegetables, brown rice and quinoa.

Every morning, I drink a large fruit smoothie containing a superfood blend known as Kachava, with frozen fruits, honey and water. For lunch, I keep it light with fruits and for dinner, I will eat a nice large meal consisting of meat, veggies, and fruit.

I almost never eat gluten, sugary junk food, alcohol and caffeine.

Our bodies are vehicles that need fuel to operate. If you give your body fuel that isn’t optimal for it, you can’t expect your body to perform optimally. But, if you give your body optimal fuel, you will set yourself up to have the best performance possible.

I would also like to add that I am not a nutritionist or doctor — this is my personal journey to health and fitness and what I do or what others do may not be right for you. I encourage you to find the food that makes you feel the best and to also consult your doctor.

Mindset Tuesdays: How I use my diet to live life with energy and health

Dillon Quitugua’s smoothie line-up which includes Kachava superfood blend, bananas, dragon fruits and honey.

Fun Fact

What I ate during the Mariana’s 100:

Kachava superfood blend, fried rice, smoothies, smoked pork, bananas, oranges and dark chocolate.

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