Category Archives: Nutrition

A Low Carb Diet for Runners???

healthy fats>The Athlete’s Kitchen
Copyright: Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD   June 2015

Have you been hearing stories that fats are better than carbs for fuel for endurance runners and triathletes? Maybe you have wondered if scientific research supports those stories.

To find the latest science, I attended the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)*. At this year’s meeting in San Diego (May 2015), I was able to verify that carbohydrates are indeed, the preferred fuel for all athletes. The following information highlights some of the research on carbohydrates that might be of interest to hungry runners.

  • Louise Burke PhD RD, Head of Sports Nutrition at the Australian Institute of Sport, verified that carbs are indeed an essential fuel for athletes who train hard and at high intensity. That is, if you want to go faster, harder, and longer, you’ll do better to periodise your eating around these hard training sessions with carb-based meals (pasta, rice) rather than with meat and a salad doused in dressing—a high protein and fat meal. Carbohydrates (grains, vegetables, fruits, sugars, starches) get stored as glycogen in muscles and are essential fuel for high-intensity exercise. Athletes with depleted muscle glycogen experience needless fatigue, sluggishness, poor workouts, and reduced athletic performance. (These complaints are common among the many runners who mistakenly limit carbs, believing they are fattening. Not the case. Excess calories of any type are fattening!)

Cure Your Gastric Distress and Race Faster

cure gastric distress while runningLike many runners, our coaching client Linda has difficulty tolerating sports drinks during training and racing. The resulting severe stomach cramps have ruined many long runs and has dashed race plans. It makes fueling during long runs and races very challenging.

Well, a solution may be at hand.

Alex Hutchinson writes in his Sweat Science blog  — over the past nine years, several research studies have shown that swishing a sports drink in your mouth and spitting (not swallowing) boosts performance in endurance events longer than 30 minutes in duration When and Why to Swish-n-Spit Your Sports Drink.

It may be hard to believe, but it’s hard to argue with ………. as the evidence mounts.

Should Women Runners Eat Like Men?

women runnersWomen runners differ from their male counterparts in both caloric and carbohydrate requirement.

When running the same distance, men burn more calories than women due to their higher muscle mass and less fat.

In addition to burning more calories when running, men utilize more carbs as fuel than women, even when running the same distance.  Therefore, women runners need fewer carbs than men.

To find out exactly how much of each you need and precisely how to get it ……

How Much Protein Do Runners Really Need?

Woman ProteinThe Athlete’s Kitchen
Copyright: Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD  May 2015

Muscles fibers sustain damage during hard training. Repairing and building muscle is a critical component to successful training and gaining strength. Prevailing beliefs are:

1) The more protein you eat, the more muscle you will build.
2) Protein supplements are more effective than food.

Let’s take a look at what the research* says.

    • The amount of protein needed to build muscles ranges between 0.6 to 0.8 grams protein/lb body weight (1.2 to 1.7 g /kg). If you are starting a strength building program, target the higher amount to support the growth of new muscles. Experienced lifters do fine with the lower amount.

What to Eat Before Your Run

EatingBeforeRun“What should I eat before running?” is a question that I’m frequently asked.

While looking through the “email bag”, I came across a query from a reader:

“I usually run 7-10 km (4-6 miles) early in the morning.  Do you have a recommendation on what to eat before I run?” Heather.

Thank you for writing in, Heather.

For runs up to an hour in duration: Assuming you do not have diabetes, a blood sugar problem or any other related medical condition, try running without eating beforehand.  Many runners find that they can comfortably complete early morning runs of this distance without taking in prior food.

How to Stay Energized for Running

stay energized for runningFinding time to stay energized for running can be very challenging for busy women.

Jane has a very hectic work schedule and often finds herself training when her energy level is at a low point.

Jane: Like many women, I have a crazy, busy job.  I commute at 6:30 AM every day and get home around 5:30 or 6:00.  I have two challenges:

  1. Fuelling for evening workouts – I don’t have time when I get home to eat before I workout/train.  I have lunch around noon which is normally a salad with salmon and an apple.  It is a challenge some days to eat a snack given the meetings I attend.  I often am doing my workouts hungry.  Any suggestions?
  2. Energy – at almost 48 years old and with a busy life – any suggestions on keeping up the energy levels?

Why Some Runners Eat Lots— But Don’t Get Fat

FoodChoiceNarrowNancy Clark MS RD CSSD

Some of my clients seem jealous of their teammates. “They eat twice as much as I do and they are skinny as a rail. I just smell cookies and I gain weight,” spouted one collegiate runner. She seemed miffed that she couldn’t eat as much as her peers—and she couldn’t understand why. They all ran the same mileage, did the same workouts, and were similar in body size. Life seemed so unfair!

Yes, life is unfair when it comes to weight management. Some runners gain (or lose) body fat more easily than others. Unfortunately, fat gain (or loss) is not as mathematical as we would like it to be. That is, if you persistently overeat (or undereat) by 100 calories a day, in theory you will gain (or lose) 10 pounds of body fat a year. But this theory does not hold up in reality. People vary greatly in their susceptibility to gain or lose body fat in response to over- or under-eating.

In general, when people overeat, research has suggested about 85% of the excess calories get stored as fat and the rest gets lost as heat. Overfed fat cells grow in size and in number and provide a storehouse of energy. Obese people commonly have enough fat stores to last a year or more; even lean runners have enough fat stores to fuel a month or more. Fat can be advantageous during a time of severe illness or a famine.

Fighting Fatigue: Why Am I So Tired….???

The Athlete’s Kitchen
Copyright: Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD May 2016

“I feel tired a lot. What vitamins will give me more energy?”

“When I get home from work, I’m just too tired to cook dinner…”

 “I feel like taking a nap most afternoons. I get up at 5 a.m. to run—but really, should I feel this tired at 3:00 p.m.?” 

Runners commonly complain about fatigue and feeling too tired, too often. Granted, many of them wake up at early o-thirty to run, and some do killer workouts that would leave anyone feeling exhausted. Many routinely get too little sleep. And the question remains: How can I have more energy?

How the Genders Differ in Nutritional Requirements

AsianWomanEatingSmallWomen runners differ from their male counterparts in both caloric and carbohydrate requirement. When running the same distance, men burn more calories than women due to their higher muscle mass and less fat.

In addition to burning more calories when running, men utilize more carbs as fuel than women, even when running the same distance.  Therefore, women runners need fewer carbs than men.

To find out exactly how much of each you need and precisely how to get it ……

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