Posts Tagged ‘running’
Hand me a drum, it’s National Nutrition Month. For people who are making an effort to live a healthier life, this month presents a great opportunity for inspiration; there will be great nutrition tips everywhere. Here are a few of my own (and this column might be a good one to clip for the refrigerator door).
Snack light. Snacking is unavoidable for all but a few, so why not just control the part you can? Kids follow good examples, so have fruit and veggies cut up and ready to enjoy, for both your sakes.
The freezer is your friend. Keep it stocked with fruits and veggies, too; they’re just as healthy as fresh, and then you can toss them into whatever you’re making.
Soft can be good. Soft fats (like olive oil) are so much better for you than hard fats (lard).
Deep Color, Good Health. Vivid, colorful vegetables (carrots, broccoli, peppers, tomatoes) are more nutrient-dense than pale celery, cucumbers, and mushrooms. Blue and purple fruits contain flavonoids (the most powerful phytochemicals in nature). Phytochemicals decrease the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and more.
Avoid Cereal Killers. Choose cereals that contain at least 3 grams (g) fiber/serving, and no more than 6 g sugar/serving. And no trans fats!
Pack at Night. Preparing your next lunch before bedtime avoids a last-minute, access-and hunger-driven purchase of processed food. These few minutes of preparation can dramatically change the quality of your weekly intake. Stock your workspace with healthy snacks for preventive nutrition: whole-grain crackers, trail mix, fruit cups.
Fewer Legs, Fewer Risks. Meat which used to live on two legs is healthier for you than its four-legged counterparts. Protein that used to swim is packed with omega-3 fatty acids: great for your heart. Save cows and pigs for occasional indulgences, and think of them that way.
Be Pro-Digestion. Digestive health starts with fluid consumption, fiber intake, exercise, stress reduction and probiotics. Be proactive.
100 x 365 = 10. Cutting 100 calories per day could result in losing 10 pounds per year. That’s one fruity drink, the cheese on a burger, or a bag of chips. Smart substitutions pay off.
Fruit Juice: Upgrade, Downsize Switch from regular juice to calcium-fortified juice, but beware the serving size. Juice is not calorie-free, by any means.
No Curves Ahead. Decrease your risk of osteoporosis. Eat (and drink) calcium-rich foods for bone strength and density. Exercise helps too.
Life’s a Bowl of Cherries. Dried or fresh cherries are rich in vitamin C and fiber. They boost heart health, reduce the risk of cancer, and are rich in melatonin (which helps sleep).
My Take on the Cs. Carbohydrates do not cause fat. Calories do.
Be Proactive in Restaurants. A meal out can be healthier than the menu indicates. Ask for whole grain foods and brown rice. These are easy substitutions which make a difference.
Fiber Fights Hunger. Breads, cereals and pastas rich in fiber fight hunger urges and help with weight management. Just watch your serving sizes.
You don’t have to be a hard-core athlete to appreciate endurance. Sometimes we want to push ourselves physically, for all sorts of reasons. Walking 18 holes. Winning the football game. Playing doubles. Running that annual 5K. A long bike ride on Saturday.
So it’s “competition” day . . . now what? You may have trained and trained, but have you consistently fueled your body with the right substances (foods and fluids)? It really matters what fuel you choose; why wouldn’t it? And the body’s energy is finite: if it’s not resupplied, it will run out. Push it hard, it runs out faster. Fuel incorrectly, and all your training will be for naught. What a pity.
Here are some Keys to give you a competitive edge. They will unlock a new level of physical success for you, in whatever arena you need it.
Key #1. Plan, plan, plan. You already know you need to prepare physically for an event. But even more key is planning ahead nutritionally. Take time to learn how starches, carbs, protein and hydration fuel the body for highly physical endeavors, and how they’re also used to help it recover quickly, building lean muscle tissue as a result. I’ve given you some great starter tips below.
Key #2. Practice, practice, practice . . . but I don’t mean training! Literally practice your “competition day” eating before that important event. A coach once told me ‘ if you put the maximum effort into your practice, you will have the maximum benefit during your game days.’ Now I tell all my athletes that same thing.
Key #3. Fuel properly the night before. The big pre-competition “no-no’s” are 1) anything with a lot of sugar; 2) fried or spicy foods; 3) high fat foods: gravies, sauces, creamy soups, fatty meats. And DON’T try any foods you’ve never eaten before.
Key #4. Same no-no’s apply on game day. Eat starches approximately 3-4 hours prior to your event, and make the portions slightly smaller than normal meal. They give you “timed-release” energy. About 30-60 minutes before starting the event, top off your tank with fluids and a small snack (a piece of fruit or granola bar).
Key #5. During your competition (or on tournament days with multiple events or games) make sure you’re drinking at least 8-12 ounces of fluids between each game or event. Eat a healthy snack – such as yogurt, a sports bar or trail mix – between each game and event. If you’re exercising for longer than an hour without taking a long break, you need to keep refueling during the event, with foods like pretzels, fruit, granola or fruit snacks. Remember: drink plenty of fluids!
Key #6. When in doubt DON’T go without! Some people find that liquids are easier on their stomachs while they exercise. But what’s in the liquid is critical. Don’t go without proteins or nutrients; try chocolate milk, smoothies, or meal replacement shakes.
Got it? Plan ahead, practice, hydrate and don’t go without fuel.
Whether you’re trying to lose weight, lower your sugar intake for overall well-being, or wean your kids off sugar, you need to recognize sugar in its many forms. It’s amazing how many different words mean “sugar” on the contents label of a food or drink.
It’s also unbelievable how many food products include sugar in one form or another. To boost to your wellness plan, you have to know sugar terminology, and you have to know how to interpret the label (and teach your kids). The top three ingredients listed on the label are primary, so if you see a sugary term there, the product is loaded.
Some ingredients to watch out for: corn sweeteners, evaporated can juice, cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, confectioner’s sugar, dextrin, honey, invert sugar, maple sugar, raw sugar, malt molasses, turbinado sugar, brown and white sugars.
I was also taught, while earning my dietitian degree, that “if it ends in OSE, it means sugar.”
Sucrose, lactose, dextrose and maltose … Watch out!
Sugar has invaded many products where you don’t expect to find it. I’m talking about things such as salad dressings, canned foods, pasta sauces, lunchmeats, “healthy” cereals and granola bars, dried fruit snacks, and more.
It’s no wonder the average American consumes 128 pounds of sugar per year. Prepared foods are hiding pounds of sugar, and adding pounds of fat, especially to our kids, who are at grave risk for diabetes. (Ouch, that hurts me to just write that).
Hopefully you’re aware how much sugar is packed into a regular soda, but sports and energy drinks are culprits that often fly under the radar. Because their purpose is “beneficial,” these drinks make it easy to forget that their labels are also important. But that 20-ounce Powerade you rely on to hydrate you has more than 8 teaspoons of sugar in it!
Some other big offenders (teaspoons of sugar per drink in ounces)
- Propel: 1.5 tsp per 16 ounces
- Vitamin Water: 7 tsp per 20 ounces (this one surprised me).
- Regular Powerade: 8.3 tsp per 20 ounces *
* Powerade and Gatorade do have low sugar options.
- Full Throttle: 13.8 tsp per 16 ounces
- Jolt Energy: 22.3 tsp per 23.5 ounces
- Amp: 7.3 tsp per 8.4 ounces
- Monster: 12.8 tsp per 16 ounces
Other drinks that pack in the sugar
- 7-up: 9 tsp sugar per 12 ounces
- A & W Cream Soda: 11 tsp sugar per 12 ounces
- Average cola: 10 tsp per 12 ounces
- Nestlé’s Ice Tea: 8-14 tsp sugar per 16-20 ounces
The bottom line: high sugar intakes are contributing to an epidemic of obesity in this country.
Whether you’re a triathlete, a recreational or endurance runner, or even a power walker, your body relies on proper fuel to do what you ask it to do. Training will take you only so far, no matter how religiously you do it. Here’s a surprising statistic I mentioned last week: nutrition counts for 80 percent of athletic training.
I’ve always been an advocate of eating whole-grain foods – breads and pastas, wild rice, veggies, beans and oatmeal – but you must read labels carefully. Whole wheat does not equal whole grain.
Runners also need “good” fats, typically 20-30 percent of daily intake. Fat is energy for muscles, once quick-burning carbs have been used. Avoid trans fats. Heart-healthy omega-3s come in walnuts, flax seeds, cold-water fatty fish, soybean and canola oils and even tofu.
Don’t forget protein. A total of 15-35 percent of a runner’s diet should be lean proteins such as fish, poultry, low-fat dairy, nuts and seeds. Avoid foods high in saturated fats and cholesterol.
Find the percentages that work for you, and remember: hydration is key to the formula, and timing is everything. Drink early: do NOT wait for thirst to set in. Think of hydration as a pro-active commitment, not as a fix for thirst. Watch your urine: if it’s pale, you’re drinking enough water.
Always choose a pre-exercise meal that’s low in fat and fiber, is high carbohydrate and includes moderate protein. That’s the formula for endurance and energy.
While running, consume approximately 8 ounces of water every 15 minutes. If you’re exercising longer than an hour, alternate water and Gatorade about every 15-20 minutes. For high intensity workouts, I also suggest a sports drink like G2 (Gatorade2).
After running, you need 3 cups of fluid for every pound lost. Your body also needs protein and carbs (like chocolate milk and trail mix). A protein boost within 15-20 minutes of ending your workout will dramatically affect how your muscles rebuild and replenish.
The time period right after exercise – your short-term “recovery” window – is the most critical for improving your body. Training breaks down muscles, literally, and depletes natural energy stores (glycogen). During recovery, muscle tissue begins to repair and in so doing, strengthens. Energy replenishes.
Timing is key. Your short-term recovery window is only about 45 minutes, and can be wasted during a post-workout chat and/or drive home. Once this window closes, your muscles will no longer be receptive to the nutritional assistance you could have provided.
Bottom line: have a snack immediately following a workout that contains carbohydrate and protein, for this critical period. You’ll start to see a real change in your muscle tone, endurance and energy.
A good post-exercise meal, within 60-90 minutes, could be salmon, brown rice, broccoli, peppers and carrots. Let your body enjoy long-term recovery on “no-workout” days, while you focus on a healthy diet. And don’t skip meals. I personally eat six small meals a day.
Next week: nutrition for swimmers.
Over the next four weeks, I’m going to talk about proper nutrition for a variety of sports: running, swimming and cycling. Many Floridians participate in one or more of these physically demanding (but fun) outdoor activities. A few combine them for triathlons – my cap’s off to you.
And here’s the thing. The human body can excel at a demanding sport only when fueled correctly. This may shock you, but proper nutrition is at least 80 percent of the formula for successful exercise and athletic training.
Don’t be misled by my use of the word “training.” If you’re a soccer mom taking a lot of classes to keep your tush looking toned, you are training. Dads who cycle five nights a week to keep the effects of aging at bay are training. And, of course, if you’re an individual or team athlete striving for wins, records, medals or the like, you know I’m speaking to you.
But you can train seven days a week – devoting hours and hours of your life to your pursuit – and without giving your body what it needs to support and achieve those goals, you will not end up where you want to be, including in the weight department. You may not even come close.
Picture Kyle Busch on the track in Indianapolis, and his car without the right kind of gas and fluids. Nothing in his driving skills can overcome the fact that his vehicle is not fueled for the task, and your body is no different.
Sports nutrition has many components. Sure, it’s important what foods you include in your daily diet, be they carbs, protein, fats, sugar or liquids. Carbs and proteins both have specific functions. We must understand what our body needs, how it uses what we give it and how we can maximize what it naturally provides. This is how we learn to boost our energy reserves so we can train harder, build lean muscle and avoid storing fat.
As important as what an active adult eats is the timing of when it’s eaten. I’ll talk about how and why to “pre-load” for a workout, and how nutrition can speed up post-activity recovery. Much of our body’s healing from exercise takes place while we sleep, so nutrition for proper sleep is also critical.
Next week, we’ll start with nutrition for running. (If you spend time on the treadmill in your gym, this will apply to you.) All my running readers will gain a real footing on the road to success. It starts with nutrition.