Tips Archives: Nutrition
Blood Sugar Boosters
Even the most conditioned marathoner will suffer a blood sugar
crisis when he or she goes more than about 15 miles. The only way
to win this battle and boost the BSL is to counterattack. Whether
you use PowerBars or other foods, here are the principles which
have led to blood sugar success:
1. Choose a food that is low in fat (less than 10% of total calories)
but which contains significant soluble fiber.
2. Most runners need 200-250 calories about an hour before the long
run to keep the blood sugar level sustained until the half way point
(of a run beyond 15 miles.)
3. If the food is a solid, like PowerBar, be sure to drink at least
four ounces of water for every 100 calories of the food.
4. Cut the food up into small pieces for easier consumption during
the second half of the long run.
5. Drink water with each piece Test your eating routine during long
runs to find the right time sequence, quantity, etc. for you.
Holiday Eating Challenge
This week could be the beginning of what could be described as
the real test of your nutritional stamina. Family celebrations,
office parties, get-togethers with friends, and well-intended yummy
gifts can make it hard, if not impossible, to stick to your normal,
healthy diet. Here are a few not necessarily original or scientific
thoughts that might help you relax and enjoy the season:
- Eat something healthy before you throw yourself into the temptation
pit. Having some baby carrots, apple slices, or even a baked potato
can curb your appetite just enough so that you have some control
when you get within gobbling range of all those special holiday
- Remember to drink a lot of water before you leave home and
after you arrive. Not only will this help keep your system cleaned
out but it will also take up space so you don't feel the need
to eat or drink so much of any other offerings.
- Try using a smaller plate so that there's not so much room to
pile on all that wonderful food. (Some would say a smaller plate
just requires more layers!)
- Start with a small helping of whatever will fit on your plate.
If you feel that you must have more of something, go back for
- Get what you want from the food table and then move away so
you won't be tempted to keep circling. (There is an old party
trick of moving to different places around the refreshment table
so that no one will realize you've been eating the whole time.)
- Try to resist eating or drinking just to be doing it. Notice
if you are really hungry or thirsty before digging in.
- Stick to your regular exercise routine as much as possible.
With large family and friend gatherings, you might even be able
to persuade others to join you in an after-dinner constitutional.
Besides burning up a few calories, this gets everyone out of the
house for a little while and is usually good for a few laughs,
all of which can help minimize extra holiday stress.
- Make a wholehearted effort to stick to your eating plan, but
if there's something you must have, have some and enjoy it. Maybe
you can eat a smaller portion than you would have in the past,
but don't make it your "forbidden fruit." Have a little and love
it. Get your fix so the urge doesn't build up and you want more
and more and more.
Here's the bottom line: With a little thought and planning, it
is possible to enjoy the holiday season without setting your fitness
program back to the Dark Ages. Do what you can while enjoying this
24 and before: Normal balanced meals. Plenty of fluids all
day long, especially electrolyte fluids. Before marathons you can
eat extra carbohydrates.
18 before race: Start cutting back on solid foods. Keep
drinking fluids. After lunch, cut out red meat, fried foods, dairy
products, fats, nuts, and roughage.
12 hours before race: Don't overeat. Only light, digestible
foods like soup, crackers, and toast in small quantity. Keep drinking
water and electrolyte fluids.
4 hours and less: Water only, in small regular amounts.
Cold water is absorbed quicker. I recommend 6 oz. every 20 minutes,
8 oz. on hot days. If you want vitamin C, take it two hours or more
before the race.
During race: Take a drink at every aid station-especially
the early ones.
Starvation diets are not necessary and not healthy in order to
run lean. The idea is to eat moderately and not overeat. Gradually
shift away from the fatty foods you like by acquiring a taste for
similar foods with less fat and calories.
Instead of, Try:
Fried Foods, Foods marinated in herbs or broiled
Red Meat, Fish or Poultry without the skin
Whole Milk, Skim Milk
Potato Chips, Cut vegetables (carrots, celery, broccoli, etc.)
Cheese, Part skim or low-fat cottage cheese
Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and vegetables will
satisfy your hunger and not give you big doses of calories. When
to eat is also important. Try eating small snacks throughout the
day to avoid being ravenous at meals, which leads to over-eating.
Eating small amounts allows the body to burn it up as it comes in.
It will also give you a steady flow of energy throughout the day-
provided the snacks are not too concentrated in sugar and fat.
A slight, sensible reduction in calories, adapted gradually into
your lifestyle, will allow your exercise to burn off even more calories.
This sensible approach to your new healthy lifestyle can result
in permanent changes: endurance exercise, a healthy diet, and a
The Starvation Reflex
By now you know that diets are read by your intuitive set point
mechanism as a form of starvation, planting a future seed for increased
fat storage. Over millions of years, our ancient ancestors withstood
regular famines, establishing very complex and quick reactions to
prepare even for the possibility of food reduction. If you're getting
food in adequate quantity and frequency, your system doesn't feel
the need to store fat. But the reflex starts into action when you've
waited too long between snacks or meals on any day. The longer you
wait to eat to eat your next food, the more you stimulate the fat-depositing
enzymes. When you eat your next food, more of it will be processed
into fat. But that's not all the bad news. A longer wait between
meals increases your appetite, which leads to overeating-during
the next meal or over the next few hours. Even if you've eaten three
to five times a day but have eaten too few calories for that day's
activities, you'll experience an increased appetite during the next
12 to 36 hours.
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