Fueling for Endurance
Do you have a big race coming up? Training for an upcoming event? Do you really know what you should be eating? Here are a few answers to those burning questions.
The human body performs optimally when given the correct fuel. If a car requires premium fuel and is continually given regular, it will still function but probably not as well as it would if the former was given. The same goes for the food we eat. Everything we choose to put in our body can either be broken down to enhance our functions or can damage us from the inside.
Fresh, whole, single ingredient foods are the best foods we can choose to eat. They are the foods that our bodies want and function best on.
There are three major nutrients that every person needs: Fat, Protein and Carbohydrates. Every time you sit down to eat, you should eat some form of each of these components. Every single cell in your body is surrounded by a layer of fat. Fat is absolutely essential for proper cell function, glowing skin, shiny hair, satiation and optimal energy for your runs.
Protein is the building block of your muscles. Each run you go on breaks down your muscles. Eat enough protein to rebuild muscle to continually improve upon your efforts. Carbohydrates are energy stores. They’re your back up when fat isn’t available or you need quick energy during your sprints.
With the right fuel, you’ll be ready to train, kick butt in your race and recover quickly and properly. If you are eating properly, training sessions lasting up to two hours often won’t require a fuel pit stop. However, a solid meal should be consumed an hour or two beforehand. When training sessions or competitions go longer than this, food will be necessary to maintain stamina and minimize muscle breakdown. Quality, easy to digest carbohydrates are key here. These quick snacks include:
Cooked starchy veggies (carrots, sweet potatoes, zucchini) or baby food – now comes in packets!
Within two hours of the workout, eat a meal that includes quality protein (eggs, pastured pork, grassfed beef, fish), fat and vegetables or fruit. You can even include white rice here for an easy to digest starch. This meal will provide adequate vitamins, minerals as well as protein to rebuild the muscles that have damaged. Real food is always better than a protein shake. But if you are going to use a protein, make sure it is of quality. This is something you want to spend a few extra dollars on. Protein powders deserve their own blog post.
Finally, skip the Gatorade. It’s loaded with syrups, artificial colors and flavors. Instead, opt for coconut water or make your own sports drink. Brew a large batch of your favorite tea, add honey, sea salt and a splash of juice. Keep it refrigerated for future uses. I would even recommend purchasing a quality calcium/magnesium supplement and adding it to the mixture (if it’s in tablet form, be sure to crush it first).
One final word to the wise, don't try anything on race day that you haven't already done. No need for an upset stomach!