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Nutrition Info

posted Jul 25, 2013, 9:05 PM by Coach Florek   [ updated Jul 25, 2013, 9:09 PM ]
Written By Steve Magness

So, here's my basic philosophy on nutrition:

1. Monitor your weight, but don't be obsessed with it. Weigh yourself every so often (1-2x a week or so). Make sure you are weighing yourself at the same time for comparison's sake. I like to do it first thing in the morning. This is just for general informational purposes. Rapid changes in weight can give you a heads up on things like overtraining, undereating, and not consuming enough fluids. The idea isn't too weigh the least amount you can. The idea is to find your optimum.

2. Eat a lot of a variety of fruits. Fruits do soo many good things for you. Antioxidants are key. Add them in with lunch and dinner and it's easy to get enough.

3. Iron, Iron, Iron. Most distance runners have a problem with iron. We lose a lot thanks to the nature of our sport. The best iron source is heme iron. That means red meat. Eat it. Don't worry about the latest media craze of how red meat will kill you. You need iron and it's the best source. Plus IN MODERATION, red meat is good for you, not bad. Female runners should consider an iron supplement.

4. Calcium and Vitamin D- Once again, most distance runners need to pay attention to these. Normally what you find is that a runner can be fine on one, and low on the other. Load up on the milk, yogurt, etc. Also, with yogurt, get the ones with active cultures (acidophulus- butchered the spelling). Good bacteria is definately a good thing.

5. Everything in moderation- Don't worry about eating a cookie here or ice cream there. That's fine. You can't live off of green stuff anyways. The key is not having 4 cookies every day.

6. Stay away from fast food and fried food. Doesn't do anything for you.

7. Drink lots of water.

8. Find what works for you.- There's a lot of crap info out there with nutrition. You'll hear things like eat 5 meals a day and such, but the key is to find what works for you. Get in a routine. Not eating the same thing every day, but eating at around the same times each day. It's much easier to maintain caloric intake that way and prevents random snack binges.

Now onto the most important thing, Recovery with Nutrition:

Timing is critical. You have to get something in your body within 15min, or at least 30min, post workout. It is when your body is most insulin sensitive, which means the time when it can replenish glycogen stores the fastest. If you wait much longer after that, it's almost makes no difference whether you ate 50min after or 2hrs after. So timing is a BIG deal.

Let's quickly look at what you are trying to do post workout. When you workout, your body is breaking things down (catabolic). You are breaking down energy sources, your body is getting microtears in the muscle, etc. Once you stop working out, this process will continue for a bit if you let it. But what gets you better as an athlete is when it goes into build up (anabolic) mode. Your body starts to replenish those energy sources, and repair those microtears, making them stronger than before. That is when you get better.

So how do we switch from the catabolic state to the anabolic state. Well, your body will do that through the secretion of various hormones. We'll leave most of the science out, but basically, it's got to switch gears and nutrition is a great way to give it a boost. If you take in some food, your basically sending the message that the workout is done and it's time to get repairing.

What kinds of food do you need?
Carbs and protein. Carbs help replenish glycogen stores and protein helps repair things in the muscle. Both combined also help switch the body over to an anabolic state. How much? Well the science generally points to around a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein, but if what you are eating is off a bit, it's no big deal. How many calories? Depends on the workout, but a substantial amount. I'd say at minimum 200.

Here's the most important part of this whole topic. These are MY guidelines. They are based on the fact that those carb/protein drinks are expensive.

What to drink:
Carb+protein drinks- Accelerade, endurox, powerbar stuff, Chocolate milk.
Carb+protein foods- read labels, the possibilities are endless. I like to combine fruit with something a lot. Yogurt is another one I like to use.
Carbs only- fruit, gatorade, lemonade, fruit juices, etc.

Here's the important stuff:
Runs shorter than 20min- water is fine
Normal runs of less than an hour or so- gatorade or some sort of Carb only drink is fine
Long runs, any hard workout- Carb+protein drink.

I say gatorade is fine after runs of an hour or less because it's cheaper and easier to get than some of the other drinks. So, sometimes it might be better to get a carb+protein drink mix, but it's no big deal if you don't. What I like to do, is drink Chocolate milk after my longer easy run of the day. I save the accelerade for workouts because it basically does the same thing as chocolate milk, but most of my workouts i'm driving to and milk doesn't travel as well. Plus milk is cheaper. So I use accelerade maybe 3x a week, and milk the rest of the days. On my shorter shakeout runs (35-40min) I'll just drink some gatorade after.