Fueling Your Fitness

This past week I had the opportunity to talk to a group at Endurance House in Zionsville about nutrition. Endurance House had a 5K running group that were gearing up for the Zionsville 5K in June. The leader for the running group, Sarah Hill-Abel, was a friend from Lafayette. I had met her and worked with her at Tri-N-Run up in Lafayette for several years. Both her and I had moved to the greater Indianapolis area and I was excited to work with her again when she reached out to me a month ago. 

Since this running group was new to the whole running scene, I wanted to just touch on some of the basics of exercise and nutrition. 

  • Discussed Healthy Snacks
    • Find snacks that you enjoy that pair a carbohydrate with a protein. This will help keep you feeling more full and will help to rebuild some of that muscle you broke down while exercise. It is best to have this protein after a work out and stick with carbohydrates prior to exercising. 
    • Bring your meal/snacks with you on the go (to work, while running errands, etc). This helps ensure that you are reaching for a healthy option. It removes the temptation to stop by the drive through or picking out something unhealthy from the grocery store. 
    • Have something to eat prior to working out. If it is in the morning, make that food item something light that you can easily tolerated (banana, granola bar, smoothie). Then add in some protein after the work out to help keep you feeling satisfied through lunch. 
  • How to Stay Hydrated
    • Make sure that you have water with you. Water is going to be the best thing to use for refueling for any exercise  taking < 60 minutes. Water is great because your body can easily use it and it is refreshing. 
    • If you are working out for > 60 minutes, then you can consider a sport beverage. This will provide carbohydrate and electrolytes, which are necessary to replenish after a long work out. 
    • There is water in foods that count as well. So drinking to thirst is a good way to know if you are hydrated. Don't stress about a "magical" 8 glasses as a day. Instead focus on making sure that you aren't feeling thirsty. 
  • Fueling for Exercise
    • Eating 3 meals a day with snacks is important and necessary when you are working out. We want to make sure that you are fueled properly so that you can complete the activity you want to do (running, walking, biking, etc). 
    • Making these meals/snacks healthier is key. Find ways to work in plenty of fruits and vegetables. Remember to fill your plate with at least 3 food groups to keep variety in your diet. 
    • You will quickly learn if there are foods that you need to avoid prior to exercising. If you eat and then wait 2-3 hours before exercising that is normally enough time to cause any GI distress.

We had a great time talking about nutrition and hearing what this woman do currently to help them make healthier choices. Lots of time, being healthier and setting yourself up for success looks different for different people/families. If you hate cooking, then maybe you look to purchase pre-made food items from Whole Foods that have fresh vegetables already in those meal items. Maybe your buy your veggies cut up, because you know you would never spend the time doing that. Whatever helps you be successful in your diet journey, that is the key. Figure out what that is and try to make those chances so that you can be properly fueled for life and your upcoming run. 

Food & Nutrition Magazine Article - The Stone Soup

I was excited to share this with you all, because I thought it was neat. I have been asked to write up/share some blog posts that I had up on RDAnna.com. There is a magazine that is run through The Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics called Food & Nutrition Magazine. This is a lovely print magazine and I absolutely love reading through it whenever it arrives at my house. They have a blog called The Stone Soup, which is a great compilation of posts from RDs all over the country. I had been talking with them for awhile about posting something, but it took me forever to get around to it. 

Well I submitted a couple of options for them about various nutrition topics and they chose one about endurance nutrition/running. I just had to share this with you! I was so excited to have this wonderful opportunity. If you want to read my article on the Food & Nutrition website then CLICK HERE.

I also had a great shout out on Twitter from @foodnutrimag and I was excited about that as well. Any time something that I write or share has the chance to reach a wider audience, I can't help but get excited! 

Fueling Up For Your Next Half Marathon

I have had the pleasure over the last several years, to do a presentation at Tri-N-Run, in Lafayette, IN. This is a fantastic triathlon store just off from Purdue's campus. I have really appreciated being able to partner with Tri-N-Run and do nutrition presentations for them over the years. I enjoy being able to travel back up the Purdue and talk about something that I love, sports nutrition. If you live up near Lafayette and need any running shoes or triathlon gear, go check out their store! 

This past Monday, I had the opportunity to talk about fueling for your next half marathon. As many of you may know the Indianapolis Mini Marathon is coming up in May. It is a HUGE deal in Indianapolis. In fact is the largest half marathon in the United States of America and the 7th largest running event in America. So if you have signed up to participate in this amazing race, you might be wondering about what you should eat to prepare for this event. Your nutrition, during training, the night be before, during the race and afterwards has a huge impact in your performance. 

Obviously there is a lot of talk about when it comes to fueling for your race. If you want more in depth information, feel free to contact me and I would be happy to meet with you personally. I am going to share a few commonly asked questions that I get from people when they are thinking about fueling for an endurance event.

What should I eat during the race?

  • This is a common question and to answer it appropriately you need to go all the way back to metabolism. I know, stick with me. Your body utilizes the carbohydrates that you eat, changes it into glycogen, which is then stored in your muscles and liver. The goal during an endurance activity is to keep your body fueled enough to not dip into your liver and all your muscle storage of glycogen. If you use all the muscle glycogen you will dip into fat stores and you will start to feel like you have "hit a wall." Using a gel or another carbohydrate containing product will keep your body using that form of carbohydrate for energy and more gradually using your stored glycogen. 
  • There are lots of different types of gels and chews, the key is to find one that you enjoy and you can tolerate well. You want to practice with these products, because you might find that you tolerate certain ones better than other. I do well with a product called Huma Gels. This gel is made from chia seeds and doesn't contain maltodextrin (a common carbohydrate that can cause GI distress). I love the flavors and the texture (it is like applesauce). 
  • It is recommend that you consume these gels or chews every 45 minutes during your endurance activity. So that equates to 1 gel every 45 minutes you are running your race. Practice with this while training and see if you can tolerate that schedule. 

Do I need to carbo load prior to the race?

  • This is a common train of thought ... you need lots of carbohydrates the night before to fuel your race the next day. That is now an "old school" philosophy and not still recommended. What you eat 2-3 days prior to the race has a bigger impact on your body than what you eat the next before. If you want to eat pasta then do that 2-3 days prior to the race, not necessarily the night before. 
  • Make sure you stick with familiar foods 3 days prior to the race. Don't be adventurous and try new things. Stick with foods that you know you digest well and that you can handle prior to your race. 
  • Some people find that they have to limit the amount of fiber they had prior to the race. I personally do better with a large salad with protein the night before the race. I do normally eat a fair amount of fiber and I can tolerate that prior to a race. (It is about to get graphic .... you have been warned. If you don't want to read about bowel movements, skip to the next bullet point). It helps to facilitate GI movement and a a nice bowel movement the morning of the race. 
  • Make sure that you eat something the morning of the race as well. Whatever you tolerate best. I prefer cereal, milk and a banana. Some people like bagels with an energy drink. I know that I have to avoid anything with too much fat - like breakfast meats and eggs. 
My most recent race, back in February in Zionsville, IN - The Groundhog 7 Miler

My most recent race, back in February in Zionsville, IN - The Groundhog 7 Miler

Hopefully these have been some helpful recommendations as you gear up for your half marathon race. If you are racing in the Indianapolis Mini Marathon ... good luck and enjoy the training. You will do awesome! Remember to practice with your nutrition and find something that works well for you!