Coach Becca breaks up a carb party

Nutrition Nutrition Nutrition.  I love it, I need it.  I live it, it helps!  Here is Coach Becca’s thoughts on fueling, both as a human and as a marathoner.

If your workout is going to be longer than an hour (such as our Saturday runs) – that’s when you need to start adding calories. This can be in the form of sports drinks vs. water (which also have some electrolytes, though not enough to replace your electrolyte losses), sport beans, GU, power gel, power bars, etc. Or, the old fashioned way is to eat real things. You have to determine what works for you.. Others hate them and swear by GU and power gel. It is really individual. The only thing that is definitely true for everyone is whatever you choose should be easily digested and fairly simple. 

Now that we are consistently running more than an hour (especially on our Saturday runs) we need to start adding calories. This can be in the form of sports drinks vs. water (which also have some electrolytes, though not enough to replace your electrolyte losses), sport beans, GU, power gel, power bars, etc. Or, the old fashioned way is to eat real things. You have to determine what works for you, one year for me it was pop tarts, I was sick of everything else.  I don’t mind power bars and GU, but it’s is really individual. The only thing that is definitely true for everyone is whatever you choose should be easily digested and fairly simple.

Although many theories have come and gone, the basics have remained the same:

1. Eat a variety of whole, unprocessed foods
2. Control your weight
3. Eat a diet relatively high in fiber
4. Eat a diet relatively low in high-cholesterol foods and fat
5. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
6. Eat regular meals
7. Eat fewer simple sugars (candy, table sugar, sweets, etc)
8. Avoid junk
9. Avoid salty foods
10. Drink little alcohol
11. Make dietary changes gradually
12.Learn about your body, and whether high blood pressure, diabetes, blood cholesterol or other factors should influence your diet.
13.Rely on food, not pills for your nutrients, though consider a multivitamin supplement
Set yourself up for feeling great and and feeling energized!  Remember our bodies are like cars and gas. Our cars can’t run without gas and our bodies cant run without fuel so just pay attention to what you are and are not consuming.. 

GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF NUTRITION
The best current thinking is not new.. Rely on a variety of whole, unprocessed foods, Have food items in balance and in moderation. No one food supplies all of the many vitamins and minerals that we need. And there are probably still nutrients yet to be discovered. Too much  or too little of many foods is detrimental. It’s like tire pressure. Too little air and you have too much rolling resistance. Too much and too little and you risk flat tires!!! There are no truly good or bad foods. Its all a question of moderation. The USDA nutrition pyramid (which I will bring one for everyone) is an excellent guideline. Make carbohydrates (pasta, potatoes, rice, breads, and cereals) the center of your meal. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Add relatively small quantities  of protein and fat for their nutritional balance, taste and variety. That’s it, simple!

The recommended “healthful diet” for the general population is very close to the same diet as endurance athletes: high in carbo There are a few variations I will discuss below. Although marathoners may require more nutrients than the general population, the increased calories they consume usually compensate for their increased requirements.
Marathoners Nutrition:
Carbohydrates- Fuel for endurance athletes
Aerobic athletic performance demands glycogen, a storage form of carbohydrate. Your body makes glycogen from the carbs you ingest, not from fat or protein. The body can store about 2,000 calories in glycogen. For those who exercise for more than an hour per day, there’s a good chance that a diet high in carbs and low in fat will help your body make glycogen and continue to perform at a high level.
Carbo Loading and Reloading
Carbohydrate loading in a technique you’ve probably heard about- increasing intake of complex carbohydrates for a few days before a long run/race should boost performance. It’s helpful so scoop up the pasta, potatoes and breads before your event (or long run).
Carbo reloading- promptly replacing carbohydrates after activity is very important to help recover.
Extra Sodium
Marathon training, day after day especially in the heat will deplete our body’s sodium. Sweat contains about one gram of sodium per quart. On hot days when working hard, many of us will sweat more than that. The average runner ingests two-four grams of sodium per day. Since most of us exercise a few hours at a time, sodium is usually not a problem. Adding salt to our diet before, during and after exercise will help maintain exercise intensity, assist in hydration and re-hydration and prevent hypoontremia (sodium depletion in the blood) which is a lethal consequence of exercise. Sodium-rich foods and salting foods are suggested under these circumstances.
Hydration
Is it was that you need when exercising. Drink before you are thirsty. Clear urine is an indication of appropriate re-hydration. Dark urine can we a warning that you are dehydrated  and need to drink more. Drink one quart (32 ounces/one nalgene bottle) or fluids per hour when exercising hard or in hot weather. It’s possible to lose several quarts of sweat per hour, its hard for the stomach to absorb more than 32 ounce per hour.
Trying out new foods
Now is the time! Experiment away before, during and after your training run for the big day!
Pre-training Nutrition
A good breakfast is key to a good start on the day.  If your running an all out fast short race a big breakfast isn’t a good idea. If you are going for a long run, fuel your body. A half-hour before training, you’ll want to top-off your energy supplies and make sure you are well hydrated. Again, a  high-carb, low-fat diet works best. You will be able to run farther and faster if you do.
Gatorade/ Sports drinks
Gatorade helps you hydrate and get some calories and its easy on the stomach. If its too sweet, dilute it to one half strength. When it’s hot (and I keep mentioning this as we approach hot weather) you are working hard and it’s hard to get down solid food. Even sugar solutions with a 6 percent concentration is difficult to digest. The solution to getting calories while exercising is maltodextrins (carbs that keep the concentration down, but add calories by increasing particle size) So…look at nutrition facts labels, then look for TOTAL CARB, then look at Sugars. The difference is usually the carb calories from maltodextrins.
Energy Bars/ GU
They are convenient sources of calories while running and they fit in your fuel belt or pocket. GU makes some flavors with extra caffeine. GU’s are not a solid; not a drink. You suck gel into your mouth and then chase with 6 ounces of water. Get used to these, you will be happy you did.
Post-Training Nutrition
Even if you’ve had a good breakfast, even if you have fueled while running, long runs still leave you calorically depleted. Replenish your body’s carbs with a few hundred calories within the first half hour after a training run, and then again within the next two hours. This will help you recover, replace your glycogen and be ready for your next run.
(Below is an actual picture of my bran flakes cereal with bananas, cranberries, and no sugar added vanilla almond milk from….TRADER JOE’S!) Carb party!
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