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Indulging your Sweet Tooth

Sugar cravings are a normal and indulging in them won’t ruin the benefits of your running if you know what kind to indulge in, says Nandini Reddy.

Sugar has become the one thing every fitness enthusiast avoids. In the recent years there is more literature and advice on why one should not consume sugar but we need to remember that while added sugars are the enemies we do not have to avoid natural sugars that we get from fruits (fructose) and diary (lactose). If you have a sweet tooth and you don’t know what to eat to satisfy that craving then here are a few suggestions.

Raisins

Raisins contain fast working sugars that can supply instant energy to muscles. So they make for a great additive for runners diets. Raisins are said to be as effective as an energy bar and can help maintain endurance levels of runners. A serving suggestion is to have about a quarter cup of raisins for every hour of exercise.

Chocolates

Chocolate’s main ingredient cocoa is loaded with anti-oxidants. Dark chocolate is the way to go if you want to indulge in chocolates. Dark chocolate helps reduce exercise induced stress in muscles. The other varieties of chocolates do not have such benefits so it is best to stick to dark chocolate. The recommended serving suggest is 40 gms.

Bananas

Bananas have all the right sugars to increase your endurance. When had with water, they increase the endurance of runners and cyclists. It also helps in replenishing lost electrolytes and increases energy with its winning amount of carbohydrates. After a run you can add bananas to smoothies or your oatmeal.

Pomegranate Juice

If you want to recover quickly after an exercise session then you don’t have to drink artificial energy drinks, instead opt for pomegranate juice. It increases the potassium in the body and also is a great anti-oxidant. If you training light then 1/2 a cup of juice will do but if you are training rigorously then 1-2 cups per day is recommended.

Baked Apples

A baked apple is a great source of fiber and a single apple can provide 5 gms of fiber along with a 105 calories if left unsweetened. If you would like a little texture then you can add almonds or walnuts. Baked apples provide more protein than a raw apple.

Yogurt Parfait

Yogurt with fruits makes for a great energy snack after a strenuous run. This has the benefits of protein, multi-vitamins and minerals and the satisfaction of eating something sweet. The pro-biotic in yogurt helps keep you gut healthy as well. Ensure you eat only unsweetened yogurt and add fresh fruits to it to get the best benefits. A 1/2 cup of yogurt after a big run is a great way to recover.

Peanut Butter

Peanut Butter is full of fat, protein and fiber. It releases energy in a slow and sustained manner thus making it a great food for runners. A spoonful of peanut butter before you start a run can be a great way to keep your energy level at the optimum levels.

Never keep you diet entirely sugar free. This increases the chances of you eating unhealthy sugar. You will also feel an over lack of energy if you remove sugar completely from your diet. So its better to indulge your sweet tooth the natural way!

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 you need after a Race?

Your recovery can be sped up if you eat and drink the right food after a race, writes Nandini Reddy

Food is fuel and it is extremely important to plan what you eat post run as much as the pre-run meal. The first most important thing to remember after a race is to re-hydrate. Running long distances can put a strain on your kidneys so it is important to re-hydrate to prevent any injury. Another great way to re-hydrate is with milk or soy milk, not smoothies which are thicker.

Replenish your energy stores

Tough workouts like long distance running tend to deplete the glycogen stores in your body. Glycogen is what gives you energy. So to ensure that these energy stores are replenished ensure that you eat a good amount of protein and carbohydrates after your race.

Quick Snack

For days after the run you might feel a bit fatigued. You can get over this with a small snack that you can pack and have in-between your meals. Pack a snack of fresh fruits and cheese, they will both instantly refresh and energize you.

Eggs

Eggs are rich in Omega 3 and it can help in reducing heart rate and aid recovery after an endurance activity. Mountain climbers, trekkers, triathletes and elite runners consume eggs as part of their regular diets. During recovery, eggs can play a great role in helping you recover faster.

Whey Protein

Bring back the whey protein from day 3 after your run. This will help you in building back the weakened muscles and you will also be able to get back to your training programme again. But ensure that you watch the sugars in these drinks. If you haven’t used whey protein before then don’t try it now.

Pizza

Yes you can have a pizza! Opt for a pizza with a lot of vegetables and low processed meat (as it has too much salt). A thin crust pizza will give you the right nutrition and energy that you need to recover.

So if you just finished a marathon and you are training for the next one, then remember that recovery is crucial and important if you want to keep running injury free.

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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Fat loading or Carb loading?

It’s a matter of storing glycogen in your muscles before the big event, but if you are wondering which is best option for you, then read on as Radhika Meganathan discusses both approaches here. 

Every runner knows about and dreads hitting the “wall”, which happens when your body is depleted of energy, and energy comes from burning fuel, usually in the form of glycogen. To “load’ is to help your body fill up on its glycogen so that it can use it up for energy and keep you going as you are doing a long distance sport (anything that’s over 2 hours in duration). But what exactly should you load your body with – carbs or fat? Does it even matter?

Before answering this question, let’s first take a look at why glycogen plays a crucial role in the pre-race diet of a runner.

Why is glycogen important?

Let’s say you eat a delicious plate of biriyani or penne pasta. Once all those carbohydrates enter your system, most of it gets stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver. It’s like keeping money in a savings account; your body dips into it and you burn and lose energy during a race. So, the idea is to save enough glycogen to last an entire race. So now you have a free pass to eat whatever you want before the race, with no worries about dieting! All within certain reason, of course, as explained in the next part of this article.

What is Carb-Loading?

Simply put, you eat carbs before a race, ideally 3-4 days before the big day. This does not mean you just keep stuffing yourself without any limit. Eat to your satisfaction, not to the point of discomfort. The recommended range is to eat 7-10 grams of carb per kg of your body weight for 3 days before the race. Pasta, rice, bread, pancakes/waffles, chappathi, bananas, baked potatoes (without skin), oatmeal are in the recommended list Vegetables and fruits have carbs too but is best to keep them to a minimum, as they have fibre and too much fibre before a race can derail you with stomach issues!

What is Fat Loading?

Now, glycogen is not the only source of energy your body has access to, it’s just the most easily digestible one! During a marathon, you burn both glycogen and fat. But the body has to work harder to convert fat into fuel, which is why it prefers to burn carbs than fat. Fat encompasses everything from meat to dairy to nutty oils – think bacon fried in butter or eggs sautéed in coconut oil. The one thing that is NOT present in fat loading is carbs, so all grains, fruits and sugars are out of this diet.

Carb Loading vs Fat Loading: Which is best?

There is no right answer to this question, as it is entirely a matter of what you want to do and which option is most suited to your body. From an economic perspective, foods used in carb loading are cheaper and easier to prepare. That said, a diabetic runner will certainly not take to carb-loading in a healthy way, and can benefit from fat loading which has almost zero carb content. If you are not insulin resistant, or if you are following a keto diet, you can certainly opt for fat loading about 9-10 days before the race.

Recent scientific studies have revealed that a fat-heavy diet can work for runners, as it teaches your muscles to be fat burners. So when you are trained to use fat as fuel during a race, glycogen storage is saved up for later use, resulting in an actual delay of “hitting the wall” – this means it can even be avoided completely. It does take a few weeks for your body to adapt to fat loading, so make sure you don’t experiment too close to the D-Day!

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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A published author and an avid rambler, Radhika Meganathan is a recent keto convert who may or may not be having a complicated relationship with bacon and butter.

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To eat or not to eat: Should you run on an empty stomach?

To eat or not to eat? Sowmya Ganesh talks about the very question many fitness enthusiasts, fresh into their daily workout routine, often debate with themselves.
While several trainers say that it’s necessary to eat before a run, there are just as many trainers who emphasize that a run on an empty stomach is the best way to do it. So, how do we tackle this dilemma?
Know your Body Type
We can start by understanding that every body type is different – and that also means one solution won’t work the same for all body types. Each body is unique and with that comes it’s special way of coping to changes, as well as workouts and food habits. Carbs mainly fuel cardio activities like running and are the body’s preferred source of fuel for energy. The body always converts carbs to glucose which fuels your runs. It also stores excess glucose to fuel you in the near future should you choose to work out without having eaten. Individuals who fast before their run believe that once the glucose is used up, the body starts to burn fat. However, studies in sports medicine always argue that there’s no way to know when your glycogen stores run out, so “even if you run in the early morning without eating, you may have enough left from the night before, meaning you won’t burn more fat at all.”
Understanding running on an empty stomach
Running on an empty stomach for a short amount of time and a well endured pace will not be harmful for your body, experts say, especially for those relatively fit. Some individuals find it beneficial to allow the body to “burn out” a sufficient amount of fat and glucose without prior caloric intake. But this comes with both pros, and cons. Running on a fast can improve your body’s capacity for mobilising energy as you burn fat more easily. However, running on an empty stomach can cause fatigue and even digestive problems. Because every body is different, it is important to consider the effects you are experiencing personally, to decide the frequency and duration of your run. Also remember to listen to your body. If you feel drained out quickly when running on an empty stomach, perhaps it isn’t the right option for you.
In case you plan a longer, more intense run, be sure to eat something light or have a pre-work out drink to keep you going. Post such a high intensity run, eat something quickly – a healthy snack or a post workout smoothie, so your body can repair itself of any muscle damage.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sowmya (1)

 

Sowmya Ganesh’s career path at different stages and today started Coubutu, India’s first subscription based health food and beverage company along with husband Ganesh Krishnan. Starting small with one product and having added a whole range of products spiraling it in to an impressive nutrition brand, successfully transforming people’s lifestyles every single day.

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5 Nutritious Smoothie Recipes for Runners

Runners always require the best of nutrition to help fuel their daily run, workouts, as well as help them recover from muscle stress caused post-run. Here are five nutritious smoothie recipes from Sowmya Ganesh that can benefit all runners and give them the energy boost they need.
1. Mango Yogurt Smoothie
Blend and enjoy:
1 cup mango cubes
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 inch ginger piece
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
3/4 cup almond milk
Calories: 235 per serving of 1 glass
Benefits: Mangoes are truly named the king of all fruits for it’s high nutrition content, being rich in several vitamins, minerals, as well as powerful antioxidants. When blended with yogurt, ginger, and turmeric, this makes for an excellent gut-healing smoothie as well as a quick shot of energy.
2. Vegan Carrot Smoothie
Blend and enjoy:
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup sliced banana
1 cup almond milk
2 tablespoons walnuts
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Calories: 260 per serving of 1 glass
Benefits: Carrots are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, while bananas have a high potassium content. When blended with vitamin rich nuts like walnuts and almond milk, the nutrition value of this smoothie just gets better by introducing heart-healthy fats into your body with every sip. Cinnamon adds great flavour to the drink while also being anti-inflammatory in nature.
3. Pineapple Spinach Smoothie
Blend and enjoy:
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup chopped pineapple
3 cups fresh spinach
1 cucumber
2 tbsp chia seeds
Calories: 390 per serving of 1 glass
Benefits: Pineapples are good for your immune system while also being anti-inflammatory in nature. Spinach is rich in iron and fibre and gives your body a good boost of minerals along with chia seeds. Yogurt is added to this smoothie to make it gut-friendly and healthier for your body’s digestive system.
4. Green Smoothie
Blend and enjoy:
2 cups spinach
1 banana
1/2 cup strawberries
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp flax seeds
1 tbsp cocoa powder
3/4 cup almond milk
Calories: 330 per serving of 1 glass 
Benefits: A high boost of vitamin E, iron, and potassium comes with this smoothie, making it perfect for both a pre-workout drink or a post-workout drink. Flax seeds are high in antioxidants and aid in digestive health, while strawberries provide you with vitamins your body requires for muscle tissue repair.
5. Simple Strawberry Smoothie
Blend and enjoy:
1 cup chopped strawberries
1/2 inch ginger piece
1 cup chopped bananas
1/2 cup orange juice
Calories: 240 per serving of 1 glass
Benefits: Strawberries are high in potassium, magnesium, as well as vitamin C and when blended with bananas, provides a good healthy potassium boost. Ginger is added as it has anti-inflammatory properties that can heal muscle stress and damage. Throw in some healthy vitamins from the orange juice and you’re good to go!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sowmya (1)
Sowmya Ganesh’s career path at different stages and today started Coubutu, India’s first subscription based health food and beverage company along with husband Ganesh Krishnan. Starting small with one product and having added a whole range of products spiraling it in to an impressive nutrition brand, successfully transforming people’s lifestyles every single day.

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Healthy eating tips for runners

Sowmya Ganesh talks about why runners should know that is food is fuel and eating right alongside training can determine the level of your performance as a runner
Running requires a lot of stamina, and to keep you going, make a few healthy choices that will be rewarding to your body both before and after the run. Here are some healthy eating tips for runners to get you started. When adopted as daily habits, these will do you immense good in the long run.
Eat your veggies
Prioritize vegetables. They are high in nutrients, fiber, and water. They can satisfy your hunger and keep you going for long. It is best to include a portion of veggies in both lunch and dinner everyday to reap the benefits that these natural foods have to offer. Healthy salads with fibre rich veggies and essential fat-rich dressings make for a perfect lunch as the minerals will help in post-run recovery while the fibre will keep you going for long.
Drink healthy fluids
Whether on the track or off, drinking plenty of water is vital to your body’s functioning. Your body requires water to function smoothly, and as a runner it is important to stay well hydrated to avoid the dangerous effects of dehydration. When water gets too boring, you can always switch to a healthy cold pressed juice to help you hydrate. A beet juice, for example, makes for a perfect runners drink as the nitrates in beets help boost performance. Tender coconut water based drinks are ideal too as they help replenish the body of lost electrolytes.
Eating pre-run
What you eat before you start your run determines how well you will be able to enjoy the run. And the amount you consume would depend on how intense your run is. If you feel a burning sense of hunger, a light bite before the run would help, but ideally, most runners prefer running on an empty stomach (if it’s a short run). If the run is going to be more intense, something easily digestible like bananas would help. High fibre and high fat foods take longer to digest and eventually slow you down during your run.
Eating post-run
What you eat after a run would be responsible for the recovery your body needs, and to replenish you. It’s best to eat within 30 to 45 minutes after your run, and fuel up with foods rich in protein such as a fibre rich smoothie to keep you going, preferably based with potassium-rich bananas and nuts – important elements in a runner’s diet, as they help with reducing any inflammation caused by running.  Later, you can have your actual meal which would be a course filled with whole, natural, and real foods.
Take it slow
Eat slowly, calmly, and allow yourself to enjoy your meals. It takes roughly 20 minutes for your brain to receive the signal of “fullness” from your stomach. So if you rush your meals, you eventually end up overeating. And to focus on what you eat, remove distractions such as the television or a smartphone.
Eat what’s real
Processed foods are a straight up ‘no’. They are filled with sugars, preservatives, and fats, and also stripped of all real nutritional content. Stay away from all the junk food as much as possible when shopping for groceries, and choose real, natural foods. These foods are fresh, and whole, and extremely rich in nutritional content. Fresh salads with seasonal produce are a great way to introduce real foods into your body.
These small changes would leave your body being forever grateful to you!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sowmya (1)
Sowmya Ganesh’s career path at different stages and today started Coubutu, India’s first subscription based health food and beverage company along with husband Ganesh Krishnan. Starting small with one product and having added a whole range of products spiraling it in to an impressive nutrition brand, successfully transforming people’s lifestyles every single day.

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Best Food for Runners

Every runner knows that it is important to eat the right kinds of foods to fuel their running, writes Sowmya Ganesh, founder of Coubutu Juices, Chennai.
Liz Applegate, a director of sports nutrition says that “with a little more attention to whole, real foods, runners don’t have to rely on energy drinks, bars and gels at all.”  Real food is everything! Here is a list of real, natural foods, that would be vital to all runners.
Whey
This simple bi-product of cheese is super rich in amino acids and can be absorbed by the body faster than other proteins, helping to speed up your muscle repair. You can consume whey in the form of a smoothie, where the proteins can be broken down to repair your body and the fibre to satiate you.
Almonds
Almonds are very rich in the antioxidant Vitamin E, which improves muscular strength and endurance. It is also rich in protein and heart-healthy fats. A dose of almonds can be best enjoyed in the form of a nourishing almond milk, which is nutritionally dense thanks to a large dose of almonds being pressed to milk. You can even consume it in your breakfast smoothie for added nutrition.
Bananas
One of our most favourite foods, bananas, are real energy boosting foods for a reason. They contain large amounts of potassium, which is essential for runners as it helps maintain electrolyte balance in the body, as well as reduce fatigue. Make the best of bananas by introducing them in your breakfast in the form of a healthy smoothie, where the potassium can kick start your day.
Spinach
This leafy green is high in vitamin A and can protect your muscles from damage. It is also high in calcium, increasing bone strength, which can reduce stress fractures (an injury common with runners). Spinach contains a lot of iron, essential for boosting your energy levels. Give yourself a good dose of spinach in the form of a green juice. This could be the best way to start your day, by allowing your body to absorb all the nutrients a healthy green juice has to offer!
Broccoli
A 100g of broccoli would have you fulfilling your daily requirements for Vitamin C and Vitamin K! These vitamins help the body repair from running related injuries and also assist with bone strengthening. This is important so your body can be protected from stress fractures. A good way to get this into your diet would be to add it into your salads. You can also gain maximum benefit by consuming it in your green juice!
Black Rice
Here is a super rich wholegrain carbohydrate loaded with antioxidants. This is great for runners to get their daily carbohydrate needs. The conversion of carbohydrates into glucose is essential as this is the main source of energy for the body. Black rice is best consumed in salads, along with an accompaniment of other protein and healthy fat-rich elements such as broccoli, cheese, nuts, etc.
Yogurt
This gut-healthy healer is rich in protein and calcium. The live cultures in yogurt help introduce healthy bacteria to your digestive tract, helping it function to it’s best. Always remember to choose yogurt without added sugars as that is the healthiest option for consuming yogurt. When water gets too boring, hydrate with a rich probiotic drink. Not only will it hydrate you but it will also keep you feeling full.
Water
And finally, water! Say no to sports drinks and energy drinks with are high in additives, preservatives, and sugar. Choose to hydrate naturally with the best fluid from nature – water.
Running can drain you of nutrients so its always better to fuel up the right way!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sowmya (1)
Sowmya Ganesh’s career path at different stages and today started Coubutu, India’s first subscription based health food and beverage company along with husband Ganesh Krishnan. Starting small with one product and having added a whole range of products spiraling it in to an impressive nutrition brand, successfully transforming people’s lifestyles every single day.

 

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Not losing weight despite running every day?

When you seem to be trying everything but aren’t getting a result, Sowmya Ganesh will answer those niggling questions that are hindering your weight loss progress.

Running

Fitness enthusiasts swear by it, trainers recommend it, doctors advice it. And we, fresh into fitness, hope to jump on the bandwagon with the promise of weight loss. However, many of us don’t often understand that weight loss won’t always be the result in the long run, pun intended. You could be an avid runner with a daily disciplined running routine and still face challenges at the end of the week on the weighing scale. Why so? Because we sometimes fail to realise that exercise and diet go hand in hand. Based on your body type and metabolism, a mere running activity will not assure complete transformation. We need to change not only our eating habits but also our attitude towards eating right to lose the weight we want.

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The Water Debate for Marathons

Water is one of the most important companions during a marathon. Calculating how much of it you need can be a challenge when you have to consider multiple factors like weather, sweat rate and rate of exertion. But maybe sometimes we forget the simplest factor – that it can be as simple as drinking when you are thirsty, writes Nandini Reddy.

Researchers around the world have spent hours determining how much water should be consumed based on a number of scientific factors and have always disregarded thirst as a factor. But many regular runners and sports physicians still swear that it is the thirst that should drive a runners’ water intake during a marathon. So regular runners now go with the rather simplistic philosophy for staying hydrated – dry mouth. Continue Reading

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