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Healthy eating during your rest days

How you spend your rest days is equally important as how you would spend your training days – especially when it comes to eating, asks Deepthi Velkur.

In order to achieve optimal results, planning your meals around your workouts is essential and on your rest days, fuelling your body with the required nutrients needed for repair and muscle growth is paramount. How and what you eat has a huge impact on your overall recovery from the previous day’s work out and also impacts your performance on training the next day.

There are more ways than one to achieve this and it mostly comes down to individual goals, but following a few key principles helps:

Do not cut back on calorie intake: While many think they need to watch their calorie intake during rest days, it is not necessarily so. A proper intake of nutrients is essential as this is the time when the most recovery and adaptation happen.

A steady supply of calories through the day: People usually tend to start their day with a light breakfast followed by lunch and end with a heavy dinner. This does no good because energy depletes as the day progresses making us more susceptible to a breakdown. Hence, spacing out your calorie intake through the day is the best approach. Additionally, eating fresh fruit and some nuts in between meals will balance it out.

Balance your macros: For a strong recovery, you need macronutrients such as protein, fibre, and carbs and micronutrients such as vitamin D, calcium, and iron. Intake of whole foods like your meat, vegetables, and fruits are also essential in replenishing your body. Ensure you fill half your plate up with fresh veggies, fruits, and whole grains to bring a balance in your meal. A serving of high quality-protein topped with un-saturated fat ensures you are getting fatty acids which also aids in the recovery process.

No to eating junk food: You probably thought you will finish that leftover slice of pizza for breakfast but remember all that saturated fat will do you no good in your recovery process. A rest day does not mean you overindulge in your favourite cheat food.
Food rich in lean protein, complex carbs and healthy fats should be your go-to food options on these days.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate: You may notice that you do not feel as thirsty as compared to your training days. However, it is important to be mindful of your water intake to prevent dehydration.

Choose anti-inflammatory foods: While you’re giving your muscles and joints time to heal on your off days, filling up on anti-oxidant rich food such as pecans, blueberries, cranberries and maybe even dark chocolate help your body gear up for the next day’s work out as they all have anti-inflammatory properties.

If you’re serious about staying fit and seeing results from your training days, eating right matters. Additionally, monitor your results and make dietary changes from time to time to derive the best out of your workouts.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

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Staying hydrated as you run!

Hydration doesn’t always mean water, Deepthi Velkur explores all your options for hydration during a run.

Staying hydrated during your runs is a critical element to a successful run – less so in a 5k, way more so in a marathon. How much hydration you need during a run depends on factors such as – age, gender, temperature, intensity, and distance.

Especially on hot and humid summer days, hydrating during your long run is of the utmost importance. As you are aware, any form of exercise leads to sweating and the more you sweat, your blood volume decreases further making your heart work harder than usual to supply the required oxygen to your working muscles.

It is important to hydrate yourself to reduce the negative effects of dehydration, but pay attention to what you should be drinking, how much and how frequently? At first, avoid overhydration – drinking more than what is required. Overhydration may lead to gastrointestinal distress or in extreme cases a condition called hyponatremia.

Secondly, drinking to offset sweating serves no purpose when it comes to boosting your performance or regulating body temperature versus drinking according to your thirst.

Dehydration kicks in only for runs longer than 90 minutes and the amount of hydration required depends on each individual as the sweat rate varies. Keeping sufficient reserves of palatable drinks accessible to you during your runs and drinking only when you feel thirsty optimizes your overall performance.

Here are some simple and most convenient on-the-go options to fuel your runs:

Sports Drinks: On very hot days, when you tend to sweat much more, just drinking plain water might not be sufficient and you might require a beverage which contains electrolytes and carbohydrates especially potassium and sodium. Sports drinks give you a blend of carbs which are easy and quick fueling options that instantly boost your energy and keeps you well hydrated. Drink two 236ml(8oz) every one hour to pump in a minimum of 30 grams of carbohydrate.

Energy Gels: They are the most popular on-the-go fuel source amongst runners. The energy gels are the best source of fast-acting carbohydrates as they are easily absorbed by the body to give you the instant boost of energy. Using one every 30-40 mins into your run works wonders and opt for gels that have 25-30g of carbs and 50g sodium. You can also pick gels that contain caffeine along with carbs. Most importantly, it is essential to consume water (avoid sports drink) after having your gel.

Bite-size chews give you that punch of energy and pack in the same amount of carbs found in gels and sports drinks. Drinking water is a must each time you pop one in your mouth to avoid the risk of choking.

Here are some organic options if you want to avoid artificial drinks :

Coconut water: This natural drink contains 9g of carb and plenty of potassium more than 20times that of a sports drink. Coconut water with a pinch of sea salt gives you the sodium you need to stay hydrated.

Orange Juice: Drinking citrus juices provide the required potassium and mixing it with water helps to dilute the juice to prevent stomach cramps. One portion of orange juice with one part water and a pinch of salt will do the trick.

Honey: It contains simple sugars like glucose and fructose which are also found in sports drinks. These sugars enter the bloodstream quickly giving you the sudden burst of energy. Try the honey packets or straws for a mess-free snack.

Watermelon: A juicy watermelon provides you with a refreshing feeling. It contains 11g of carbs and a bit of potassium. Sprinkle some sea salt to avoid the fruit from getting mushy and pre-freeze it.

Drinking 250ml of water every 15 minutes during the run along with the above options is recommended. Practice your hydration plan well before race day, and learn to trust it.

In conclusion, do not over-complicate your plan, keep it simple: “Drink when you are thirsty”.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

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Foods Runners should Avoid

If you want to improve your running performance there are certain foods that you need to exclude from your diet, writes Nandini Reddy.

Food is the fuel that helps us achieve our running goals. Then we need to have only high quality fuel in order to get the best performance. The right food promotes better recovery and provides the right kind of energy to improve running performance.

There are certain foods that we eat without considering the effect they might have on our body. The wrong food means inadequate repair and longer recovery periods. It could also mean that you would get certain muscle related injuries. If you are looking to achieve the best performance while you run then here are certain foods that you should keep out of your diet.

High Sugar Foods

High sugar foods are never healthy. You may feel that it is necessary to boost your energy but you can avoid the cakes and cookies. Energy need not come directly from eating high sugar foods. You can get energy even from complex carbohydrates like whole grains.

Oily & Fried Foods

Fried food is a definite no-no when it comes to a good diet. Another thing to remember is many of us consume too much oil without realising that our regular food. If oil can be seen in the food you cooked even at home, it means its not healthy for you. Use oil prudently and you will be able to enjoy your food always. Fried foods and oily foods also take longer to digest and can create gastrointestinal distress.

Sugary Sodas

Caramel coloured bubbly sodas may be momentarily satisfying but can also lead to dehydration and increased sugar cravings. They do not really satisfy your thirst. These can be hard on your stomach and can derail your training energy. So for these drinks instead of moderation, you can just clean avoid them.

Artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners like aspartame or sucralose need to be strictly avoided. They can lead to dehydration and increase sugar cravings. These sweeteners are also known to cause weight gain. These sweeteners also tend to confuse the body signals about insulin and it is never a good idea to do that.

Full fat Diary

Full fat diary is a good consideration if you want to grain weight. If you want to lose weight and feel lighter then its not a great option to include in your diet. If you like your glass of milk then look for those that are 3% fat or less. You can also choose alternatives like rice milk and nut milk.

Alcohol

With alcohol its not about elimination but moderation. Having too much can cause slowed reaction times and dehydration and thus leading to decrease in performance. But before the race you need to definitely avoid alcohol of any sort including beer. You can consider beer for a celebratory drink after your finish the big race.

White grains

White grains are not high in fibre. If you consume whole grains along with the carbohydrates you will also receive adequate fibre. A healthy gut is important to ensure that you are a good runner. White grains also tend to raise your insulin levels and that can cause your energy to plummet. Whole grains give you more lasting energy.

Processed Meat

Processed meat is high in nitrates. Increasing their intake also carried other health risks such as colon cancer but most importantly it doesn’t do anything for improving your running performance. It might seem easier to reach for a cold cut of meat instead of cooking fresh but by doing so you are severely jeopardizing you nutrition.

The key to a healthy running career is a healthy diet, so limiting or avoiding these foods will do you a whole lot of good.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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What do Elite Runners eat?

Elite runners have perfected the optimal diet to ensure the best running performance, writes Nandini Reddy.

Eating like an elite runner doesn’t mean you have to be on a special diet. Although several experts and websites will tell you that they eat special food, in most cases they would be eating local cuisine and nothing exotic. A recent research also found that very few elite runners are on a special diet.

You are more likely to find world class runners eating a normal diet. Their experience helps them determine which foods work to improve their performance and which foods to avoid. If you look at the diet of African runners you will find that they eat a lot of cornmeal and European runners do not eat any corn.  But that doesn’t mean cornmeal is ideal for all runners. Japanese runners eat more fish. Essentially this means that eating like the elite means eating right for your body and not only a certain type of food.

Instead of trying to copy and elite runners exact diet, you need to learn a few best practices that they use to ensure that their body is at peak performance. Here are a few guidelines

Eat the Food Pyramid

There are six categories of food you need to eat including protein, vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and diary. Based on where you come from these options can be combined any way possible. An elite runner would ideally include all these meals in their diet everyday. Proteins and vegetables with whole grains are the most important inclusions in every meal. Do not eliminate any category unless it is based on medical advice.

Focus on Quality of Food

You can get the same category of foods in the natural or processed format. If you are eating refined and processed foods then you are not getting the right kind of nutrition. Elite athletes keep the consumption of these kind of foods to the minimum. You need to ensure that you never fall into the trap of ‘any food works’. All foods are not equal so it is important to have a high quality diet.

Don’t avoid Carbs

New runners tend to lower their carb intake and up their protein intake as a way to get higher performance. But this is an erroneous move. In fact lower your carbs will reduce your energy and could also have the affect of making you feel fatigued. Carbohydrate intake has a clear connection with endurance performance as established by Ahlborg in the 1960s. When you reduce carb intake there is a greater stress on your body and your performance will dip. This has been studied across various runners and research doesn’t recommend that you go for a low carb diet. You can get the right carbs from whole grains and high quality foods instead of opting for bad carbs from fast foods and refined foods.

Fill your Stomach

You cannot perform on an elite level on an empty or half-full stomach. Cutting calories will drastically reduce your running performance. This means along with high quality food you also need to eat enough quantity. It is fine to eat a bit extra rather than pinching the calories and ending up being fatigued. Less calories doesn’t mean you will become a lean running machine. You might end up damaging your running career and health. If you want to judge the right quantity for yourself ensure that you are eating enough at first to fuel your runs. After that you can adjust the quantity if you feel it is excessive and affecting your running weight.

Personalize your Diet

Diet history, food preferences, regional food habits and body’s fuel needs should dictate your diet. It is important to personalize your diet because there is not diet that follows the one size fits all. Every individual needs to eat according to their body, needs and normal diet history. A few runners may eat wheat, a few may be vegetarian or vegan and a few might like sugary treats.

If you are getting advice to eat Paleo diets or gluten free diets then it might just be a fad and nothing more because the elites follow a simple diet of local produce and foods instead of exotic diets.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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Liquid Diet for Marathon Recovery

Recovery food for marathon should be easy to digest, so a liquid diet might be the best thing for you, writes Nandini Reddy.

After finishing a tiring race it is important to reach for the right nutrition to aid your recovery. A liquid diet might be gentler on the stomach instead of an all-you-eat meal. The bright neon coloured electrolytes are great but there is also an array of choices that are available from natural sources.

How to choose your recovery drink?

A recovery drink should ideally be consumed 20-30 minutes post the run. If you wait longer then that means that your body won’t repair itself fast enough. The choice of drink should allow for the most efficient recovery of your muscles. It should give you the right nutrients to restore your energy levels. Milk is a natural protein that you can consider having post your race. If you want carbs then you can get them from fruit or vegetable sugars. Sports drinks are also heavy on your wallet so these natural options are more economical to consider. If you don’t like artificial sports drinks then there rare plenty of options that you can consider that are naturally available.

Coconut Water – Coconut water is rich in potassium and is perfect to maintain water balance in the body and also assist the muscles in relaxing optimally. The natural sugars in the water give your body enough carbs before and after a race. It is best had either 60 mins before the run or after.

Chocolate Milk – This drink isn’t just a kid favourite but is also a great meal option for post-run recovery for marathon runners. It speeds up recovery and is better than any sports drinks you might consider. The mix is rich in calcium and Vitamin D that assist in muscle recovery.

Vegetable Juice – A 100% vegetable juice that leaves in the fibre is a great recovery drink. The fibre is light enough on your stomach and the nutrients and anti-oxidants that you will get will help relieve the stress. These juices have more potassium and sodium that sports drinks, making them the better choice.

Banana Shake – For the vegans you can try a shake made from coconut milk and bananas. Its a great alternative if you are lactose intolerant also. It gives you enough carbs and proteins that are essential for a post-run recovery.

Tea/Coffee – Caffeine will provide you with a jolt that you need to boost your running performance. Tea is rich in anti-oxidants and drinking a cup of tea or coffee 45 mins before or after a run will energize you.

These drinks are refreshing and can also recharge your body. So give the shot after your next race!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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Training Day Diet

Your diet plays a big role on training days and becomes the deciding factor on how intensely you can train, writes Nandini Reddy

Training days before the big marathon race are the toughest on our bodies. Apart from water, we need to fuel our bodies with the right kind of nutrition in order to make the most of these days. The intensity of the run and the duration of your training run will correspond to a certain number of calories that you will burn. So that means that you need to replenish your calories accordingly.

If you are in training your calorie breakdown would be

  • 70% of calories used will be from Carbohydrates
  • 20% of calories used will be from Fats
  • Remaining will be from proteins

Keeping this in mind you need to split fueling your body into the day before the training, a pre-training snack and a post-training snack or meal.

Day before Training

The idea is to increase the energy stores or glycogen stores so that you are adequately fueled to handle an intense session of running. The choice of carbohydrates should be the complex variety. Pick whole grains, high fibre vegetables, dals and yogurt. You can snack on high water-content fruits in between such as apples, oranges, water melons, etc. The idea is to ensure that you body gets a power-packed nutritional meal instead of just carb-loading.  Also don’t experiment too much with foods. Stick to a normal routine diet that is easy on your stomach.

Pre-Training Snack

A carb-rich snack just before you start you race is good idea. A peanut butter sandwich is a great choice for a pre-race meal. You can also have a fruit smoothie which would pack your stomach and also give you plenty of nutritive energy boosters. Eggs and whole grain cereals are also a good option for a pre-race meal or snack. The idea here is to eat something healthy but light so that you feel energetic during your run and not uncomfortable. If you want to have something to boost your energy during the race then bananas and almonds make the best snack options that are easy to carry.

Post-Training Meal

Ideally you should eat within an hour of finishing your training. The post-training meal should have more protein content and less carbohydrate content. If you cannot eat a big meal, start with snack like yogurt and fruits or a whey protein drink. You also need to replace lost fluids at this time so its a good time to chug down that bottle of water. If you are having a nutritious meal then you do not need an electrolyte post your training.

Never use running as an excuse to binge on unhealthy foods that are high in calories. Eating right will give you more energy to have intense and longer training sessions rather than simple energy bursts that will make you feel dull after the high comes down.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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Recovery Foods for Cyclists

An essential part of your post cycling recovery is eating the right food, so what can you eat asks Nandini Reddy

Glycogen are the stores of energy you burn at the end of your long ride. So the most important recovery is to replenish these glycogen stores. Water, carbohydrates and proteins become the most essential foods to include in your recovery phase. The one thing to remember is that recovery food is not everyday food, these are the foods at give you instant energy and a punch to your flagging system.

The recovery food that you eat has a purpose, you should understand that it is needed for

  • Repairing the muscles with protein
  • Replenish energy stores with carbs
  • Getting your carb:protein ratio spot-on

A few suggestions on how you can recover quickly after a tiring ride beside a long nap include:

  • Chocolate Milkshake – This is the most optimal food and this is about the only time you can have it without guilt. A chocolate milkshake has a carb to protein ration of 4:1 and can immediately replace the used up glycogen aside from hydrating you as well. The immediate energy and endorphin boost from chocolate is also useful. When someone tells you to drink a chocolate milkshake, don’t ask too many questions!
  • Rice – Please indulge in the most simple carbs like rice. Its easy to digest and provides the right kind of energy. The high Glycemic Index of rice makes it the perfect recovery food. Include dal as an accompaniment with the rice to ensure you get the best combination of protein and carbs.
  • Eggs – Eggs provide significant protein and you can even carry boiled eggs with the shell with you during your ride and have it immediately after the ride as a quick recovery food. It is a favoured food for trekkers and other endurance athletes alike.
  • Root Vegetables – All root vegetables are great for carbohydrate loading. You can have it as a dry roasted snack or as a curry with rice. These vegetables are also rich in fibre, beta-carotene, vitamin C, manganese and potassium.
  • Nuts & Nut Butters – Nuts, dry fruits and nut butters are ideal for a post-ride snack. They are high in fats and protein and can help recover the glycogen levels quickly.
  • Whey Fruit Smoothie – Whey is a great recovery food and is a go to food for many cyclists. You can improve the nutritive value of whey by making a smoothie using fruits.

Never scrimp on post recovery calories because you are trying to lose weight. Training days need higher than normal carbs in order to fuel your body to complete the endurance task. You can avoid unnecessary snacking and stick to fresh foods for recovery.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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Ensure Adequate Fuelling

Shiny Surendran, the city’s leading sports nutritionist, talks to Radhika Meganathan about what is important for runners to ensure adequate fuelling.

Shiny Surendran wears many hats. Not only is she a certified nutritionist and a published author, she also is the first Indian to be awarded Graduate Diploma in Sports Nutrition from International Olympic Committee, possesses a masters in food service management and is the Chairperson of the Website team of Indian Dietetic Association. Today, she speaks to The Finisher Mag about the kind of foods to eat and avoid when it comes to running

In your opinion, how does an avid runner err in terms of nutrition and eating habits?

I have often noticed that a group which runs together usually has a team breakfast post run. Sometimes with all the group energy, they might eat more than they have expended during the run! Portion control is a good thing to keep in mind if you’d like to maintain your peak running stats.

Some runners overeat carbs and not include enough protein. Another point to ponder is not getting adequate Magnesium and Omega 3 fats. These mistakes can be easily rectified by mindful awareness about nutrition, and more effectively, by consulting a nutritionist who will analyse your body type, health stats and suggest the best diet for you.

What is your recommended power foods for pre or post run?

A fruit milkshake such as apple / banana milkshake (use almond milk if you are lactose intolerant) is great for pre workout / post workout drink. For pre-/post-run meal, keep to complex carbs such as oats or Multi grain porridge mix, with fruits and/or nuts in it. Since most of our climate is tropical, watermelon and pomegranate juice are good for anti oxidants, aids recovery with phyto nutrients. And then there is the affordable and nature’s bounty coconut water which is excellent for hydration plus electrolytes.

What kind of food is best avoided by runners?

I’d have to say, fibre rich foods, raw salads, and sprout salad, especially before a run. Runners should also avoid legumes like peanuts, rajma, white channa, gas producing foods like cabbage. As a general nutritional guideline, athletes are recommended to avoid white sugar, maida, food with artificial colors and flavours. And I recommend avoiding fruit juice, ice cubes made from tap water, raw chutneys or raw salads if you are in a new city for a run. Chances of food poisoning or gastric infection is very high, so be on guard!

What is good for recovery nutrition?

Hydration is very important to replace the salts lost and vital for recovery. I advise runners to drink at least 1 litre of sport drink after the run, especially if you live in a city which is hot and humid. In case you have high sweat loss, it is a good idea to include pickle, papad, and salty seafood dishes which have high levels of sodium.

Recent opinion is that low carb diets like paleo or keto are harmful for runners, since runners need carbs for fueling. Is this true? 

A former colleague and a fitness professional would eat a full south Indian meal 2 hours and run very well at long distance events. Somehow when he implemented the sport nutrition principles of eating 4 hours before the run, did not work well for him. The fullness / satiety helped him run well. He defied all principles of sport nutrition!

The reason I am mentioning this here is to stress that we are not all cut from the same cloth. Body types and their response to carbohydrate rich food are different. Our body has large amounts of fat which could be tapped for energy. People who are insulin sensitive can eat carbs in moderation but the ones with insulin resistance will benefit from Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) diets. This will have NO adverse affect on their running efficacy.

You mean, runners do not need carbs at all?

As I always say, everything in moderation. My stance is that carbs are not indispensable, nor is it a bad word. Do consult a certified nutritionist before changing your diet or training, and find out what kind of body type you have. People have varying levels of insulin resistance – the ones who really struggle to lose weight in spite of eating healthy complex carbs and good dose of protein and fibre – they will benefit a lot from LCHF diets. During off season they could try LCHF until they reach ideal weight and then before competition training, they can reload carbs moderately.

 Did you notice anything interesting while training runners or athletes? 

While working in YMCA sports medicine department, I observed physical education students drinking aerated drinks with glucose added to it for that extra boost of energy. Little did they realise, they would have sugar levels crashing after 20-30 minutes. I of course told them to avoid this type of stimulating drinks.

A recreational runner that I knew got severe stomach pain while running. She experimented and found better results with electrol than the commercial sports drinks. My brother’s friend would consume fermented rice mixed with buttermilk every morning and run marvelously well. He was the best runner in school. Simple carbs worked well for him. One needs to experiment to find what suits their body types.

 Can you give some nutrition tips for our runner readers?

  • My first tip would be to eat real food. Not the one that comes in plastic or dripping in additives/sauces, but the food that is closer to what has been made in your home for years. Freshly made, with local ingredients and love and care.
  • Experiment during non-competition days. Figure out what works to optimize your running. Create a template of foods that enhances your running. Stick to it.
  • Pure vegetarians (lacto vegetarians) should consider whey or plant protein options to pep up recovery and build muscle mass
  • Calcium, Magnesium, Iron and B complex, Omega 3 fats are very important. Eat lots of red- and green-coloured locally available greens, such as radish and turnip greens, agathi keerai, drumstick leaves (moringa leaves), spinach, manathakkali, etc which are all excellent source of Magnesium, calcium and iron. Especially if you are a vegetarian who does not eat much vegetables (sadly this is more common than you’d think, many vegetarians consume a lot of carbs at the expense of vegetables) you MUST pay attention to your daily meal plan.

Balance is the key. You don’t have to deny yourself your favorite stuff, just make sure you enjoy all foods in moderation. Do not ape latest trends!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Radhika Meganathan is a published author who is an advocate for healthy living, she practices sugar-free intermittent fasting, all-terrain rambling and weight training.

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Gluten-free diet for runners – good or just a fad?

Being Gluten Free is no longer a diet fad and has become a lifestyle change for many, Deepthi Velkur writes about what it means for you to go gluten free.

Gluten-free diets are gaining popularity among the fitness community. The effects of gluten-free diets may not necessarily provide the benefits many athletes hope will give them a competitive edge. Sports nutrition experts believe enhancing nutrition does not mean avoiding gluten – a protein in wheat, rye, and barley. Here’s what runners need to know about going gluten-free.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a stretchy protein that is found in grains, especially in wheat. A vast majority of our gluten consumption comes from bread, pasta and baked goods. Other grains that contain gluten are barley, rye, and oats. You’ll also find gluten in ice cream, sweets, processed meats, alcoholic beverages and condiments such as soy sauce.

So should you go gluten-free?

Embracing the gluten-free diet is a medically necessary diet for individuals with celiac disease or related disorders. Celiac disease is a chronic autoimmune disease, where the body starts attacking the lining of the gut when you eat gluten. However, there are several non-celiac athletes who have cut out gluten from their diet and claim to have far fewer intestinal issues when they run, and even say that it enhances their performance.

Now, there’s no medical evidence that proves going gluten-free leads to enhanced running performance, but there is evidence of the potentially harmful effects that gluten can have in some people, for example, gluten can cause inflammation and irritation in the intestinal lining. Statistically speaking, nearly 90% of distance runners suffer from some form of digestive discomfort mostly cramps, diarrhea and bloating during or after exercise – cutting out gluten may help this issue in some runners. Other amateur runners also report they feel less brain fog, less muscle and joint aches, better sleep patterns, and more energy levels when they cut out gluten.

Is the diet workable with the Indian food plan? Yes, says a qualified nutritionist Naini Setalvad “We have many substitutes like bajra, jowar ragi, rajgira, singhada atta, white poha, kurmura and sabudana,” she explains. Food grains such as soy, quinoa, corn flour, millet, arrowroot, amaranth and rice flours all go with the gluten-free diet. Nevertheless, she warns, “If you stop dairy, as an Indian, you would feel less full”.

According to Priya Karkera, a dietitian and nutritionist expert “Milk can be replaced with almond and coconut milk and quinoa, a cereal, can be used to prepare khichdi, upma, and kheer.

Grains are an important food source of carbohydrate, which runners require to boost their training and recovery. Runners going grain-free often develop symptoms of overtraining syndrome, including persistent exhaustion and deteriorating performance.

The final word

If you’re thinking of going gluten-free, the big question is can you manage one? There is no evidence to support that this diet boosts performance. When you cut out a large food group, including food with gluten, your compromising on your health and its nutritional balance. Always consult your doctor or a health professional before changing your diet drastically.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

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