Featured Comments Off on What to eat when training for a marathon |

What to eat when training for a marathon

Wondering what to eat during your marathon training cycle? Getting your training diet spot on will help you go that extra mile says our Guest Columnist, Shailja Sridhar.

The commitment needed to train for a marathon usually means that you will be running a lot more regularly and the mileage increasing with each run. It also means that you need extra rest and nutrition to recover from all that training you undergo.

Achieving your Ideal Race weight

Most often, you are not at an ideal racing weight and it becomes all the more important to watch what you eat and how much you consume during the training cycle so you get that optimum balance and do not gain weight.

Losing too much weight has an adverse effect on your ability to manage your training runs. It is good to have a fair idea of the weight you want to lose and build a training plan and the nutrition required to achieve your goal. At first, check your current weight and calculate the ideal racing weight you want to be at. This helps in tracking how many calories you burn during your workouts to get a daily minimum calorie count. One should realize that creating too much of a calorie deficit can harm the performance and recovery.

Fulfilling your nutrition needs during training

There are some general guidelines you need to keep in mind during the training cycle to ensure you fulfill your nutrition needs and also feel energized for the training sessions. Now is the best time to try out different foods and other supplements to understand how your body adapts to new foods and plan accordingly for the race day.

A high protein breakfast with some carbs on the days of training would be a good start. That third slice of toast might be good on the long run days but should be avoided as part of your regular diet as carbohydrates tend to get stored as fat in our body if not utilized properly.

There are various sources of protein which could be a part of your diet. Eggs, amaranth, peanuts and oats are all good sources of protein. Adding a handful of nuts and seeds (like chia, hemp, sunflower or flax) to the bowl of oats or amaranth porridge is a good way to increase the protein intake. The best way is to closely watch your diet and plan the meals right from the start of your training cycle so it becomes a becomes a habit eventually.

 

It can be very tempting to indulge in junk food cravings especially after a run but one should realize that it is not really a good idea to do that very often. You don’t really burn that many calories while running because your body gets efficient over time.

An average runner burns about 100 calories per mile of running and it does not depend on the speed of the run. It can vary a little depending on the current weight but not too much. The empty calories in junk food will neither help in recovery nor will they be good for you in the long run.

Timing your food intake

Another essential part of training is to time your food intake and most people tend to ignore it. There is a 30-minute window after a workout when your body is very receptive to replenishment of its glycogen reserves and consuming some simple carbs and proteins will aid recovery for your next workout. The electrolytes we lose during the workout also need to be replaced else you end up getting a headache or experience excessive fatigue. I have often suffered dehydration headaches as I failed to replenish my body with lost electrolytes post my workout session. You experience this more in cooler climates where you don’t feel the exhaustion after a run or aware of the extent of the loss.

A healthy diet with lots of green vegetables and fruits is necessary for our long-term goals. We need good fats and enough protein to aid muscle recovery and carbs to fuel our long runs.

The use of commercial products is not necessary but certainly more convenient to manage the post workout nutrition and recovery. There are various options available with varying levels of protein and carbs but choosing one that suits your needs is important. It is always good to be picky when choosing supplements. We should always be picky about things we are putting in our bodies. Eating high-quality real food is essential and do not only rely on sports nutrition supplements to fulfill your dietary requirements. Nuts, seeds, grains, fruits, and veggies are better for us as they are a part of a complete wholesome meal plan which keeps us feeling full for longer and reduces hunger pangs and food cravings.

My personal diet plan

Fruits with seeds and strawberry yogurt

Mixed Greens tossed with apples, nuts, olives with lemon honey dressing

 

Chicken, veggies, greens and millets.

 

 

 

My food habits are not the best but I try to eat clean most of the time. My breakfast is usually two or three egg omelette with some peanut butter toast or a ragi dosa with chutney and fruits. Oats/lentils savoury pancakes is another regular favourite breakfast item. Sometimes I like a nice hot oats porridge with nuts, berries and pomegranate seeds to sweeten it. I eat a huge bowl of seasonal fruits with my breakfast without fail. Hot cooked breakfast is usually a given for me.

I have a few different recipes of salads that I make regularly for my between the meals snack and they contain a good mixture of soaked, occasionally sprouted and boiled lentils, and lots of fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds to add taste. I am constantly hungry and it is important to fill myself with something that I like which satisfies my hunger cravings and provides the nutrition I need. Carrot and cucumber sticks are another regular snack with some dip or hummus or cream cheese if want to indulgence a little.

Half my plate is usually veggies or salad during mealtimes and it wasn’t easy when I started but it has become a habit with time. Veggies, salads, lentils, soup and some meat occasionally are my main meals while training for a marathon.

Few pointers to keep in mind while training for a marathon:

  • Make a plan for nutrition along with the training plan and stick to it. Please remember that good nutritious meals are an essential part of training.
  • Check your weight regularly and keep track of the changes. Get a blood test done to ensure that there are no deficiencies.
  • Fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, lentils, and grains usually have everything we need to fulfill our body’s requirements.
  • Use sports nutrition during the training to get the body used to it for the race day. Good idea to experiment in the training stages so that there are no nasty surprises later.
  • Protein and carbs are essential for recovery and the ratio depends on the weight and the goals of training. High protein diet is good for muscle recovery but a good store for carbohydrates is necessary for the endurance runs.
  • Junk food has to be strictly controlled and monitored. An occasional treat is acceptable but as long as the calories are taken into account when planning your meals.
  • Use sports drinks and electrolyte-rich drinks after a workout to recover quickly for the next day. There are lots of options available in the market and it is good to check the nutritional information on the label in detail before consuming them.

Fuelling options a day before and on race day

I usually have a very sensitive stomach so I keep it very simple before the marathon. I try to stay extra hydrated for a few days before the run. Heavy breakfast on the day before the race, a carb-rich lunch (usually bland pasta) and a light dinner consisting of soup and a light salad or just a dinner roll work best for me. Not everyone is the same and I have runner friends who eat a proper carb-rich meal for dinner too and manage pretty well. Marathon day breakfast is a bagel or toast with some peanut butter and some black coffee. I carry a banana to the start line to eat about half an hour before the run starts.

Wholesome natural meals are always a good idea and mindfulness helps in several ways. The rules of good nutrition remain the same for everyone and it makes a big difference in the way your body responds to the increased training load. Having a constant check on your weight and paying attention to your meals helps us see those changes you want to see in your body.

It is always good to start slow and make gradual changes to move towards the kind of diet you need and soon eating healthier meals becomes a habit. Try not to compare with others because each person is different and there is no single ideal diet you could follow. It might seem difficult to keep track of so many things at first and follow the training plan but it gets a lot easier with practice.

GUEST COLUMNIST

 

Shailja is a mother of 2 kids and a part time model for a sustainable brand close to her heart called www.kinche.com. She’s either running after the kids or running to stay sane.

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Nutrition Comments Off on Gluten-free diet for runners – good or just a fad? |

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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Nutrition Comments Off on A Vegetarian Diet for Runners |

A Vegetarian Diet for Runners

A well-planned running diet can be very effective even if it doesn’t include animal protein, writes Nandini Reddy

Runners need more calories and optimal nutrition to ensure that they have enough fuel for runs and recovery. All diets need not have animal products and vegetarian diets can be as effective for runners. What one needs to remember that the diet should have vitamins, minerals, fats and protein aside from carbohydrates and fats.

Why you should consider a vegetarian diet?

Vegetarian diets have a high amount of carbs and fibre and are rich in Vitamin C and folate. Runners who are vegetarians also find it easier to maintain a lower body weight thus their joints take less pounding when they run. A well-planned vegetarian diet will have your daily calories and nutrients coming from fruits, vegetables whole grains, nuts, beans, seeds and diary. A runner would need a 2500 calorie well-balanced diet with about 70% of the calories coming from carbohydrates.

Suggested foods

  • In your every day diet ensure that you include enough plant proteins from beans and diary.
  • You can meet your daily protein requirements with protein drink that contain whey.
  • Complex carbs like jowar and bajra release energy slowly and are great for runners.
  • The biggest nutrient that vegetarians lack is Vitamin B12 which is essentially found in animal protein, but you can include fortified soya or rice milk to get your daily requirements.
  • If you like rice, then you might want to switch out polished rice to unpolished rice or red/black rice.
  • Palak or spinach is a great source of Vitamin C and iron, two ingredients that are essential for runner endurance.
  • Curd is a great source of calcium and can be included as a lassi or buttermilk or during lunch.
  • You need to ensure that you have fats in your diet. Olive oil, rice bran oil, avocados and nuts are great sources of fat.
  • Natural fats help lubricate your joints and it is important for runners to have healthy joints.
  • Nut butters are also a great source – you choose between peanut and almond butters. They can be added to smoothies or just spread on toast. If you are creative, then you can make a salad dressing with them.
  • Diary and derivative so milk like paneer are good sources of protein but they have an upper limit of consumption every day. If you are looking at building body mass, then full fat milk should be included.
  • If you are vegan the you can opt for almond milk and rice milk
  • Sprouts make for a great snacking option

Sports nutritionists today are open to planning diets that are vegetarian and cover the protein requirement that is essential for runner endurance.

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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