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Beat the Sugar habit

Beating the sugar habit, is tough in a world of processed foods, but a simple plan and a bit of commitment might just help, writes Nandini Reddy. 

Sugar is everywhere today. Even the most innocuous foods have sugar hidden in them. You don’t actually have to eat cookies and cakes to directly consume sugar. Your favourite hot sauce also is loaded with added sugars. The truth is that there is absolutely no health benefit from consuming added sugar. It damages all your diet efforts more than any other indulgence.

It might seem like a task to constantly monitor added sugars in everything that you eat but in the long run it really helps. Consider a few simple steps to remove sugar from your diet or reduce it to the levels that are good to satisfy your sweet tooth and not damage your diet.

Clean out the pantry and drawers

We all have stashed secret snacks in our office drawers and pantries. The first step is to clean out the stock of foods that are high in added sugars. Remember to check all bottled and packaged foods. Read your labels right and ensure that you get rid of the whole stock without exception.

Avoid adding sugar

Try a few days of avoiding sugar. A lot of things will taste bitter and unmanageable but it is a way to discover new tastes. Coffee and tea will be unbearable the first time but you might discover new flavours of tea that do not need sugar and unsweetened expresso might help you recover from tiredness a lot faster than a sugar binge.

Get rid of sugary drinks

Colas, packaged juice, iced teas, bottled frappes and energy drinks all are storehouses of added sugar. Most of the energy drinks and colas also have caffeine and the combination of a caffeine high and a jolt from sugar is comforting when you are stressed. But one moment of deliciousness is not worth year long health troubles.

Look for natural replacements 

There are several natural sweeteners that you can add to different food that might give you a more complex taste. Try adding vanilla extract into your coffee for that touch of sweetness. Avoid sauces in your salads and add caramelized onions instead. Salt tends to intensify the sweetness of pumpkins and fruit so sprinkle a little salt instead.

Kick refined grains

You need to eat carbs but they don’t have to be bleached white. Avoid white processed foods like breads, pastas , cookies and cakes. Your diet benefits from whole and unpolished grains. Get your starch from vegetables and pile on the protein from your beans and peas.

Being on a sugar high can feel wonderful. But breaking the grip of sugar can also be equally satisfying.

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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Power of Plant Protein

Your meals need protein and if you are a vegetarian then you need to boost your meals with these essential foods, says Nandini Reddy

If you are looking to gain muscle, you are most likely told that you need to eat lean or white meats at least in order to meet your daily protein goals. Protein is the essential macronutrient that will help you gain muscle and also helps regulate hormones and keep bones in good health. But when you don’t eat meat, there are heart healthy legumes, grains, millet and pusles that are a good choice.

Soybeans – You can consume soybeans directly as a beans in a salad or as tofu. It is a great source of complete fibre and protein. You can also choose to replace panneer or cottage cheese with tofu.

Protein: 36gms/100gms

Black Beans (Rajma) – These beans are a great combination with Indian food. They are good accompaniments for rice and are flavourful enough to relish your meal.

Protein: 21/100gms

Chickpeas (Channa) – These are the most filing meat substitute and can be used in salads, curries or even be eaten as the Mediterranean favourite Hummus. They are also filled with heart healthy potassium.

Protein: 19/100gms

Lentils (Dhal) – Lentils are a solid source of protein. A daily dose of lentils will help you meet your protein requirement and also you fibre needs. There are a variety of lentils you can choose from and include at aleast a cup of them in your daily diet.

Protein: 22gms/100gms

Dried peas – Peas is a great source of protein. This starchy hardy legume is great for winter meals of soups or as a dhal for eating with rotis. They are great for the heart and stabilizing blood sugar.

Protein: 25gm/100gms

Sorghum (Jowar) – Jowar is a favourite to make rotis and is a powerhouse of iron and protein. Many regions across India eat jowar on a regular basis and its a great alternative for those who want to avoid gluten.

Protein: 10gm/ 100gms 

Finger millet (Ragi) – This is a great replacement for rice. It is also a fabulous source of calcium and amino acids aside from protein. It is also a very versatile millet that can be used to make breakfast food (idli or dosa), a cooling drink for summers (ragi malt mixed with buttermilk) and a filling meal (ragi as replacement for rice).

Protein: 7gms/100gms

All these foods need to be eaten in combination and not isolation in order to meet the full protein requirement that is needed for the day. So if you dislike diary and meat you can still balance your diet and get the band of protein with these options.

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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Importance of pre-race meal

Raghul Trekker gives you nutritional advice before the most celebrated marathon in India, the Tata Mumbai Marathon.

If you are a marathoner and if you live in India, you wouldn’t want to miss the Tata Mumbai Marathon. It is the most celebrated marathon considering the huge local support from the Government, Police, general public, etc. Also, you get to see some lightening elite runners (probably overtaking you at some point of your run). Many runners peak their training towards this race and target their personal best at this grand stage. The environment makes it possible too.

If it is your target race, you definitely need a proper strategy on your pre-race meal for which, we have to look into some calorie calculation. In general, the calorie expended by a person while running can be approximately measured using body weight and distance run. For sample calculation, I am considering a 65 kg runner

Body weight * distance run ≈ energy expended in calorie

65 kg * 42 km ≈ 2730 calorie

Almost everyone concentrates on their race week carb loading but surprisingly forgets their pre-race meal. It is more important than your race week nutrition. This amount of calorie, on an empty stomach, would all be supplied from the energy reserve which is usually somewhere near 2000 calorie which will be expended when you run a little over 30 km. Does it ring any bell? Yes, I am talking about the wall of a marathon. This is why people bonk between 30 & 35 km mark.

A pre-race meal of 500 calorie is a good way to start a race day with this being 90 min before the race start if it is solid food or 15-30 min before race start if it is liquid food.

Now that we have understood some numbers related to how much is expended and how much is to be consumed, it is time to understand the breakage of consumption in terms of fat and carbs. For a marathon, we can expect finish times of 120 min to 360 min range. With this we can recommend the following (the below calculations are based on heart rate zones)

  1. Fast runners 120-150 min: a high carb pre-race meal with a shot of caffeine. The carbs being a mixture of high GI and low GI.
  2. Intermediate runners 150-200 min: a high carb pre-race meal & little bit of fat. The carbs being low GI.
  • Slow runners 200 min or above: a carb & fat mixed pre-race meal. The carbs being low GI.

Fast runners 120-150 min

Cereals with almond milk, grapes, banana, white bread with jam and other high GI foods. The high GI carbs will provide fast release of energy. A shot of caffeine from coffee, caffeinated salt capsules, caffeinated energy drinks, etc.

Intermediate runners 150-200 min

Fruits like apple, pears, oranges, yoghurt, grainy bread and other low GI foods in combination with cereals, grapes, banana and other high GI foods. The low GI carbs will provide slow release of energy for a prolonged period.

Slow runners 200 min & above

Grainy bread with peanut butter, cheese, avocado, nuts like almonds, pistachio, cashew, groundnuts with almond milk, millets and other fat & carb mixed meal. The fat will supply energy for the slow runners because they will use more of fat while running at low HR zones than the faster runners. So, this fact cannot be overlooked.

Consider the above points and put yourself into one of the categories to suit an apt pre-race meal for your upcoming marathon. Since the race starts at 0540 hrs, I would consume a semi solid pre-race meal at around 0445 hrs after a long 8 hour sleep.

With a little bit of smartness, you can do a lot better

All the best for your PB.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Raghul Trekker is the Head Coach at Tri Crash ‘n’ Burn (a unit of Dhaamz Sports & Entertainment Pvt Ltd). A 4-time Ironman coaching more than 100 athletes for the last 3 years. Tri Crash ‘n’ Burn is a team of more than 60 triathletes and runners constantly pushing the limits to better their personal best. You can check out more about them at tricrashnburn.com

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Superfoods for Runners

Get stronger, run longer and slim down with these super foods that work wonders for runners, writes Nandini Reddy

Whenever we hear the word – Superfoods – we always imagine something exotic. But in reality it should imply foods that are high in nutritional value that are powerhouses of energy. These foods are nutritionally superior but also loaded with nutrients that are highly beneficial, especially for endurance athletes.

Runners are expending energy daily and using nutrients that are necessary for our health and vitality. During exercise and throughout the day,  free-radicals are released into our body that need to be ‘neutralized’ by antioxidants. Superfoods are believed to have the power to deliver all these benefits. So what do superfoods really help in –

Boosting metabolism – Superfoods provide fibre and protein in good quantities. These foods will resist starch and break down the extra energy in the body. These foods also help in controlling appetite which makes it easier for people to sustain energy levels and stave away hunger pangs between meals. Beans, lentils and chilies are great foods that help boost metabolism.

Burn fat faster – These foods help in burning fat faster in the body. They are loaded with special oxidants that that promote fat oxidation and thermogenesis, that helps in releasing energy from digestion. This energy released helps power muscles while you run and strength train. The best foods for this are sesame seeds, beef and green tea.

Feel Full – Food that you eat should make you feel full for longer. Eating food hot, psychologically helps us feel fuller than eating cold meals. Foods that help you feel full also work as building blocks and repair your muscles. These proteins will also control your hunger and add the right nutrients that will keep you blood sugar in control. You can eat eggs, thick vegetable soups, potatoes and avocados to gain these benefits.

High Nutrient Value – When you are running you need essential vitamins and nutrients to power your muscles. These vitamins help convert proteins, fats and carbohydrates efficiently into energy. Vitamin C keeps your immune system in good shape. The foods you can eat to get these benefits include lime, peppers, oranges, berries and tomatoes.

Full in anti-oxidants – Foods that are low in calories and rich in anti-oxidants are a great addition to a runners diet. Most of these foods are enriched with Vitamin K that plays a big role in ensuring proper clotting of blood. The foods in this category include greens, beets, lettuce and cabbage.

Water is an essential requirement in any diet. It may not ‘technically’ be  a ‘food’ but without it we cannot survive.  Dehydration is one of the main causes of fatigue and muscular stiffness. Drinking water through the day will increase energy levels, and not to mention the health and vitality of your skin and hair.

Nature is generous and provides us with many nutritional options that can pave the path to greater fitness and health. Superfoods give you the right boost to ensure that you are charged for every run.

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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Nutrition Mistakes Beginner Runners Make

The wrong nutrition can defeat all the efforts you have put in to train for your run, writes Nandini Reddy.

You put in a lot of work on your training. You work on your pace, time and intensity of your run. Yet something seems to be holding you back. It might be more because of your nutrition mistakes than your training efforts. Most beginner runner make these mistakes often. Here is what you might be doing wrong.

Separating Diet and Training

Diet and training go together for runners. But most newbie runners make the mistake of not paying attention to their diet and just focusing on their excel sheet training plans. They start runs on empty without fueling their bodies or they overload themselves after the runs with high-glycemic index foods. They also focus on just the foods they eat after their run and pay little attention to their food in-take for the rest of the day. One cannot expect the desired results if diet is not given importance.

Too many Carbs

In order to fuel their runs, beginner runners tend to overload on carbs. Carbs are important in a runners diet as they are the fuel that drives their muscles but they cannot be the focus. The focus has to be more on vegetables and proteins that deliver the required nutrients to keep runners healthy. Whole foods that are filled with fiber are what runners need. The diet should be comprehensive and should include vegetables, nuts, oils, lean meats, whole grains and fruits. Completely skipping food groups or focusing on just a single food group will cause fatigue that might lead to injury.

Not understanding metabolism

All runners will experience weight loss when they start running. But if you are aiming to lose weight then you need to fuel your body the right way. Eating less and running more will signal the body to slow down its metabolism to conserve energy for the next time you stress your body. This will lead to the opposite effect of what you want to achieve. One can lose weight by eating the right foods in the right quantities.

Too many nutritional supplements

New runners tend to overdo the electrolyte sipping. They even replace water with electrolyte during their runs. Remember that your depleted glycogen levels after a 60 minute run can be replenished after your run through food. If you are running longer then you can use electrolytes to fuel your run to refresh. But that doesn’t mean that you need to sip on electrolytes through the day. Nutritional supplements are available in the form of energy bars and sports drinks, ensure that these do not have added sugars. Electrolytes are not a replacement for water. Drinking more water is required when one takes nutritional supplements and no less.

Caffeine Overdose

Caffeine is known to boost running performance and it also aids in glycogen restoration. But this doesn’t imply that you experiment with caffeine while in training. There is a limit to how much caffeine you can consume and overdoing it will give you gut issues. Caffeine needs to be included on intense training days and on other days try and avoid it.

Train smart and eat right to get the most best results from your training schedule.

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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Food for Muscles

Strength training and lifting weights is a great way to build muscle strength, but your diet plays a bigger role says Nandini Reddy

Strength training is an essential part of a good runner’s training schedule. Taking care of your muscles means more than just using weights to build muscle. The one factor that needs attention is your diet. Your diet can play the most critical role in ensuring your muscles are healthy and in a state to support your strenuous running schedules. All foods are not equal so its important to pick the right ones to give your muscles the energy boost they need. There are essential rules to remember while choosing food to build muscle.

The Right Amount of Protein

Protein has the essential nutrients that are required to build muscles and also repair them when they are damaged during training. But you also need to understand that protein needs to be eaten in the right quantity. According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, consuming 1.6 gms of protein per kilogram of body weight is ideal for building muscle. Lean meats like eggs, fish and white meat are a great way to add muscle. Supplemental protein shakes break down quickly in your body so they are a great after workout booster.

When do you eat Protein?

Muscles break down whenever you run. Right after a workout your body is better equipped to absorb the nutrition from protein. That doesn’t mean you have to consume something immediately after you workout. You have a 2 hour window within which you can have a meal that will help recover the muscles that have been damaged during the run or workout. While post-workout may be an ideal time to replenish your muscle building proteins, pre-workout meals also have a great impact. Eating a protein rich meal a couple of hours before going in for your workout is also very beneficial. But you need to remember that there is a limit on how much you consume. Eating too much protein in one sitting might only create problems rather than give you a bulky frame. Plan out the protein consumption in advance and spread it out through the day.

Its not all meat

Fueling muscle growth and repair doesn’t mean you have to only indulge in eating meat. There are several vegetables that also help and should be included in your diet. Beetroot, oranges, cantaloupe, panneer, spinach, apples, yogurt and milk are great protein additives to your diet. They give you added nutrients and fuel for muscles to repair better.

No Junk Allowed

Junk is the worst kind of food that one can consume. The extra calories in junk will only make you gain weight. They will not help in muscle development. The goal should always be to eat healthy food. If you need to increase calories to make up for the energy requirements from running, don’t add junk. Eat healthy food otherwise muscle growth will not be adequate and might even be retarded because of lack to the correct nutrition.

Fuel for your runs

Carbohydrates are the most important fuel for your runs. Protein cannot provide adequate energy to keep you going the whole day but carbs can. So along with your protein it is important to give your body the right mix of carbohydrates and fats to prevent deficiencies. Sweet potatoes, brown rice and pumpkins are good carbs to eat along with protein. The carbs get stored as glycogen and will fuel the muscles as they work to help you reach the finish line.

Ensure your calorie intake equals your expenditure. If you lead an active lifestyle then your calorie intake will be higher. If you run and workout daily then you need to fuel these as well. So remember that it is important you give you body adequate protein to build muscles and carbs to fuel those muscles as they work.

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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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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Lace up to Lose Weight

Running is a great form of exercise if you are looking to lose weight. Nandini Reddy talks about how  you can run right to achieve your weight loss goals. 

Every time a new diet or exercise comes on, you are probably ready to try it, if it promises that it would knock off the pounds. But aside from the age old sage advice of ‘eat healthy and exercise’ sometimes it is difficult to find a programme that shows consistent results. Running in that sense is a great form of exercise that shows significant results in weight loss if done right.

Be Consistent

Running is hard in the beginning. It gives you sore muscles and you probably can’t even run a full kilometre without losing your breath but if you keep at it, it pays off. Look at a long term approach and plan your running schedule for the next 8 weeks and you will definitely see an improvement in all aspects.

Find a Programme 

If you are unable to come up with a running programme yourself then either find a running club or an app like Nike Running to help you formulate a running programme that suits your current fitness levels. Start with a run/walk programme and then you can slowly graduate to slow continuous jogs and then to full -fledged running.

Increase mobility

You need to strengthen your muscles so that you become a stronger runner. Body weight exercises like squats, push-ups and lunges are a great way to start strengthening your muscles. These will help increase your mobility and also reduce instances of soreness.

Interval Training

Fast running is an excellent tool for weight loss. Sprints will get your heart rate up and will burn more energy and uphill sprints are even more effective. This sort of interval training helps in higher weight loss. You can start with 30 second intervals of sprints and brisk walks. Then graduate to sprints and jogs.

Runner’s High

If you are trying a new exercise programme then it is important that you enjoy it. Running comes with an inherent advantage of feeling exhilarated after you finish your planned run. Running is known to release ‘happy hormones’ that stay with you through the day.

Any form of exercise is good exercise, but when you want to lose weight then its very hard to beat the results that running gives you.

 

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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