Nutrition for Peak Performance

You Asked Me

Liz answers your questions posted on Facebook

This year I’ve lost 60 pounds, quit smoking, and started training for a half. How do I balance my dieting-self with my always hungry runner-self?

To keep your weight down and your performance up, remember food is for pleasure as well as for fueling your runs. Aim for three to four meals a day that each include 20 to 25 grams of protein to curb appetite and support recovery. Include quality carbs, which will sustain your energy and health. And every other day or so include treats you enjoy to strike a balance with those dueling inner-selves.

I’ve discovered I need more energy during my long runs. Portable energy products upset my stomach. Are there natural or home-made options?

It may be the carbohydrate load in these products that bothers you. It can be a lot to digest. Try fresh or dried fruit, such as raisins, dried pears, or apricots. Drink water after eating them to help you absorb the carbs and stay hydrated. Honey may also be easier on your stomach. Studies show it works as well as energy chews and gels in boosting endurance and it’s also a much cheaper option!

Consuming News

Liz brings you the latest research reveals foods and drinks that can
help (or hurt) your running.

Chocolate, Please

In happy news, researchers from London’s Kingston University found that dark chocolate may boost performance. Cyclists who ate two ounces daily for two weeks rode farther and tolerated more intense exercise compared with baseline tests. Researchers think epicatechins (a type of polyphenol in chocolate) may indirectly increase nitric oxide availability, which improves oxygen delivery to muscles by enhancing bloodflow. Studies show that beet juice improves performance in a similar way.

CHEW ON THIS You can make dark chocolate a part of your daily diet, but cut back on calories elsewhere. Two ounces pack about 300 calories.

Pass the Beer

Researchers at Granada University in Spain have found that beer can help the body rehydrate better after a workout than water or Gatorade.

Professor Manuel Garzon also claimed the carbonation in beer helps to quench the thirst and that its carbohydrate content can help replace lost calories, The Telegraph reports.

The study involved a group of students who were asked to work out until their body temperature reached 104 degrees. Researchers then gave beer to half of the students and water to the other half. Mr. Garzon announced the results at a press conference in Granada, saying the hydration effect in those who drank beer was “slightly better,”.

Juan Antonio Corbalan, a cardiologist who worked formerly with Real Madrid football players and Spain’s national basketball team, said beer had the perfect profile for re-hydration after sport. He has long recommended barley drinks to professional sportsmen after exercise.

Previous studies have shown most alcoholic drinks have a diuretic effect—meaning they increase the amount of liquid lost by the body through urination.

SIP ON THIS The study concluded that having more than one beer created a diuretic effect and no longer was a better hydration choice. Aim for one post-run beer and then stick to water.

Good Bugs

Gut bacteria are essential for overall health, and the more the better. Researchers from Ireland found that compared with healthy but unfit overweight men, professional rugby players had much greater bug diversity—and more of a strain called akkermansia-ceae, which is linked to lower obesity risk and lower levels of inflammatory markers that signal disease progression.

CHEW ON THIS More research needs to be done, but another reason to keep running!

A Bitter (Better) End

Rinsing your mouth with a sweet, carb-containing sports drink seems to activate brain centers, stimulating you to run harder. But what about other tastes? Australian scientists gave cyclists a bitter, calorie-free quinine drink (similar to diet tonic) to swish for 10 seconds and then swallow before sprinting. The bitter flavor boosted effort by about three percent.

SIP ON THIS Try a sweet or bitter rinse near the end of a training run to see if it helps you.

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