Now that I have addressed the fitness side of my approach to becoming Batman, I should also cover the nutrition/diet component.
Back in April, there was a study published in Pediatric Obesity titled “What Would Batman Eat?” It has gotten some renewed attention thanks to the release of The Dark Knight Rises. In the study, children are presented with a Happy Meal and given the choice of apple slices or French fries as the side dish. When asked, “What would Batman eat?” the kids tended to pick the apple slices, which the researchers claim would save the children three pounds of fat a year if they ate one Happy Meal a week. As much as I love the idea of “What would Batman do?”, that is not much of a plan, though.
I never saw Batman eat or drink anything in the comics, other than coffee when meeting Gordon in a diner or chicken soup from his utility belt after facing off with Mr. Freeze. I tried to do some research on what Christian Bale did to go from The Machinist to Batman Begins. Sadly, the internet turned up nothing but aspiring trainers pushing their own “Batman Diet” plans based on nothing but conjecture, so I had to take matters into my own hands.
In the past, I had used The Hacker’s Diet with some success. In this plan, you weigh yourself daily, and the goal is simply eat fewer calories so that you end up weighing less than your “trend weight” (a weighted average of your previous weights). There is an additional exercise component, but the emphasis is clearly on the idea of the “trend weight.” I started this plan again around September 2011, but it did not work as well for me as it had in the past. I later learned that it was because my previous dieting destroyed my muscles and my base metabolism was so low that low-calorie diets would not be enough anymore. However, my takeaway from this plan is that measurement is key! Even though I would tweak which metrics I use, the idea of “you cannot improve what you do not measure” started here. And I still use Libra, an Android app based on the principles of the Hacker’s Diet, to track my weight.
Then I read Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Body, based on recommendations from co-workers at Automattic. His approach was a series of “body hacks” to optimize your metabolism. I was not crazy about the amount of supplements he recommended, but I did start the “Slow-Carb Diet” just before Thanksgiving 2011. This plan also had an exercise plan that I did not incorporate. I did not get quite the results he promised, but it get me jump-started. My takeaway from this plan was that a calorie is not just a calorie, and that I needed to take a look at the nutritional composition of my meals.
When I started weightlifting in January of this year, I felt sluggish due to my low-calorie diets, so I looked around for something else to try. I stumbled onto IIFYM, and it seemed to fit me perfectly. The acronym stands for “If It Fits Your Macros,” and it is a very simple diet. The premise is that your body needs the three macronutrients – protein, fat, and carbohydrates – in a specific ratio, so you just punch your body data into a spreadsheet and it tells you how much of each you should eat. You can eat anything you want and as much as you want as long as it “fits your macros.” Oh, and keep in mind that the numbers are goals, not maximums, so you want to get as close as possible to them. I have had a lot of success with the combination of the IIFYM diet plan and my workout routine. I plan to stick with it for the foreseeable future.
Also, I do not know how thoroughly the researchers above looked into superhero diets, but Batman would drink Diet Coke:
And Catwoman agrees: