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Nutrition

Nutrition (18)

Avoiding the Post-Run Bonk

Written by Ashley Benson February 06, 2020
toxins-cause-exhaustionClyde Wilson was a naval service member who enjoyed weight training and working out, when his doctor on the USS Carl Vinson informed him he was on the verge of needing medication for high blood pressure and cholesterol.  After making a transformative change in his nutritional habits, he went on to study chemistry and cell biology at Stanford and now teaches there and the University of California San Francisco Medical School.  In addition, he runs The Center for Human Nutrition and Exercise Science in Palo Alto, California.


This month, we asked Dr. Clyde to weigh in about the lethargy many runners struggle through after a long run.

1.  When many runners finish a big long run, often they report feeling extremely lethargic and low energy for much of the rest of the day, even after eating.  From a nutrition perspective, what may be going on here?

 Athletes need to replace their carbohydrate losses from training at a rate that their muscles are willing to absorb those carbohydrates.  If you burn 1000 calories in a workout, roughly 800 calories of which are carbohydrate, and attempt to replace all of those carbohydrates at one sitting, the over-flow of calories into your bloodstream will send more than half of it to fat cells, where the carbohydrate will be converted into fat. 

Therefore, eating enough calories is not enough. 

The calories have to go into lean tissues to actually help you recover.  Not eating enough is another way to fall short.  So the athlete has to eat enough carbohydrate, but spaced out over time or eaten with vegetables so that the carbohydrate calories enter the body at a rate muscle is willing to absorb them.  Protein helps re-build lean tissue but is unrelated to the feelings of lethargy after hard training.

2.  What are some best bet tips on things runners can do after the run to avoid that day-long bonky feeling?


The best thing a runner can do to avoid the day-long bonky feeling is to eat 100-200 Cal of carbohydrate, mainly in the form of glucose, every 2-3 hours.  You could start with a recovery drink (first ingredient should be maltodextrin) right after training, and then granola, bread, yams, or similar foods an hour later and every 2-3 hours after that.

3.  What, if anything, can runners do during the run to help avoid these post-run problems as well?

During running, consume 50-250 calories glucose per hour (depending on training intensity, how much lean mass you have, and how well you are hydrating).


Pumping Iron In Your Diet

Written by Dena Evans February 28, 2011

 

 

romanticlifestyleironrich3Not much frustrates a runner more than putting in a ton of work in training only to find oneself unable to produce the desired result.    Many of us fear this scenario in connection to a potential injury, but another crucial area in which we may fail to give ourselves the best shot is with our diet and nutritional habits.

 

There are many factors involved in formulating a solid diet and nutrition plan that will power you to your next running goal.  In previous columns, we have touched on the importance of hydration and race weekend fueling.    This month, we wanted to touch on the topic of the role an iron-rich diet can play in helping you succeed in training and on the big day.

 

Simply put, iron helps carry oxygen to our muscles via the bloodstream.  It is the binding agent that allows the oxygen molecules to go for a ride from our lungs to our arms and legs, our brain, and our immune system.  All that belly breathing we talked about in last month’s column would go for naught if we didn’t have iron to help make the connection between those deep breaths and the cells that need the air to keep you on pace.

 

A normal day for anyone will include iron loss through bodily fluids (with more for women during menstruation), and the demands avid endurance athletes put on their bodies can hasten these losses.    If you have ever felt repeatedly tired over a length of time, without other explanation and on runs that previously were no problem, or if your hands and eyelids have been noticeably more pale than usual, you might want to consider consulting your physician about the possibility of checking your iron levels with a quick blood test.

 

However, to give yourself a good chance of avoiding that iron deficient state, or Anemia, in the first place, we encourage you to incorporate foods into your diet that will help you add iron on a regular basis.    Lean red meat, salmon, tuna, leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale, along with lentils, beans, and nuts, are great sources of iron.  Iron is absorbed very effectively when consumed concurrently with foods rich in vitamin C, so bring on the berries and orange juice.  Calcium makes it tougher for you to absorb iron, so save that glass of milk or slice of cheese for a different time of day if you are actively trying to consume a food for its iron content.  Likewise for coffee and tea, both of which also hinder the absorption process.  We encourage you to consult your physician on any drastic individual dietary choice you make, but the Food and Drug Administration’s Daily Value recommended for dietary iron consumption is 18mg.

 

Some runners enjoy the calorie-burning benefit running provides, allowing them the dietary flexibility of a higher metabolism.  Others incorporate running into an overall weight loss effort that includes a systematic effort to eat less.  Either way, if you are in it for the “long run” or maybe even several “long runs” it is important to include iron rich foods to make sure you are able to take advantage of all your hard work.



Q:  After some of my long runs I completely crash for the rest of the day, and I can't afford to be down for the count - I have stuff to get done!  What can I do?

A:  Make sure you are leaving for your runs with a full tank - hydrated, and with 100-200 calories at least in the hour or two before you start.  Plan for and consume 4-8 oz of electrolyte replacement beverage every 2-3 miles (25-30 mins.) for long runs beyond an hour.  And, most importantly, replenish with carbohydrates as soon as possible after your run = 15-30 minutes max.  A banana, apple, orange, peanut butter sandwich, or energy bar with primarily carbs and some protein included are great choices to save in your car or keep ready at home for your return.  We know that in a depleted state your body will grab carbohydrates and convert them to working glycogen quickly.  So the post-run quick meal (100-200 kcal) within 30 minutes is key.  Miss this window and you'll be playing catch up the rest of the day!


Q:  What should I eat the night before a race?

A:  You should eat familiar foods at a normal dining hour.  The day before a race, incorporate plenty of carbs, but do not stuff yourself with two pounds of pasta.  Eat a moderate amount of a well balanced meal (pasta, chicken breast or bolognese sauce, salad, roll is one example) at dinner, and sip both water and sports drink throughout the day.  Steer clear of alcohol.

One mistake a lot of people at destination races make is to set out from the hotel for dinner at 7, head to a casual dining restaurant which is busy on weekends, wait 45 minutes or an hour for a table, and all of a sudden, start dinner at 9pm when the alarm clock is set for 5am.  Plan ahead and give your body time to assimilate the food and get ready to sleep! You and the line of people behind you at the porta-potties will be grateful.


Q:  How much should I drink during a marathon or half marathon?

A:  First of all, we recommend taking a drink to the start line and consuming 4-8 oz right before the gun goes off.  This is your first water stop.    Plan to consume 6-8 ounces of fluid every 2-3 miles or 25-30 minutes.  For bigger races with aid stations every mile or two, one good rule of thumb is to just take fluid every time (so you don't have to think about it).  A good strategy is to alternate sports drink and water.  Pinch the top between your thumb and fingers, and you can nurse it for a few more yards.  Most importantly, do not wait to consume fluids until you are "thirsty".  At that point, you are already playing catch-up.  Drink early, and when in doubt, choose the electrolyte replacement drink over water - then you'll get both the minerals and the H2O necessary for hydration.


Q: Everybody says I should try this (bar/ gel).  How do I know if it is right for me?

A:  Practice!  Your initial long runs serve as trial and error nutrition workouts.  Once you find your comfort zone with a particular drink, gel or bar include consumption in your longer and more rigorous workouts. Nutrition-wise, nothing you do on race day should be brand new territory.  We recommend consuming a gel packet (always with fluid) or similar amount of carbs through another source such as a banana every 45-60 minutes during a marathon or half marathon, which means you should also be doing this on your Big Kahuna long runs.  Keep in mind if you are following the earlier recommendation of energy drinks every 25-30 minutes you may not need the additional gel/bar/banana replacement.  Many utilize a combination of drinks, gels and food to provide quick available carbs within the race.  Everyone's body is different - make your refueling plan during workouts as deliberate as the other parts of your race preparation and you'll have one less unknown to worry about!



To Gu or Not to Gu

Written by Dena Evans April 08, 2009

Call me old school. Or maybe, I’ve been reading too much Michael Pollan.  But I have had a hard time getting used to the “food-like” products marketed toward distance runners, marathoners in particular.    Whatever happened to old-fashioned energy consumption?  That is, what’s wrong with food and drink?  Am I the only one who feels this way?



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