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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Taming the Beast

Marathoner, Tarun Walecha, takes another look at the grit, determination and madness it takes to finish marathons.

All that can go wrong at a marathon which I didn’t know about…

A year before when I wrote the prelude to this blog, I had thought to myself that I have learnt all I needed to, made my set of mistakes, even wrote a blog about the same which was well appreciated, and now it would be my year of redemption. As it turns out, I was certainly being overly ambitious.

Having finished five full marathons so far, somehow, I still feel I’m yet to run my first. Last week I was at the starting line again, but this time I was better equipped, better trained, (at least, I thought so) and little bit more confident for sure. I say a little bit because this time I was aiming higher and didn’t want to be complacent. I had ticked all the boxes from the learning last year, be that diet, training schedule, staying injury free and included newer aspects like on course nutrition, flexibility etc.

Unlike last time where I was aiming to finish the run on a moderate pace, this time I was greedy. I had trained harder and had all the reasons to back myself, one of my longest run on Dec 31 which came after 6 days of consecutive half marathon runs under my initiative, ‘Share and Care’ was comfortable and surprisingly speedy. The 28K run on Trail-A-Thon, which I ran a controlled pace but yet was my fastest so far on the course too. I believed that the glory beckoned me and nothing could go wrong, so so I thought.

 

The race day twists and turns…

On the morning of February 25, a 4:30 start meant I didn’t have much time to sleep the night before. I therefore took it easy the previous day in anticipation and was up at 2:30 am without feeling sleep deprived. As I walked toward the stadium from the parking lot, my mind was only filled with positive thoughts and trust in myself, just a hint of anxiety, nothing nerve wrecking. After a quick chat-up with everyone around, handshakes and wishes exchanged; it was going as per the familiar course. So much that an unannounced staggered start didn’t flutter me a bit, and at 4:35 we trotted across the timing mat.

As I started off, I had the plan distinctively clear in my mind, pace chart, nutrition chart, hydration – all ticking off in my mind. Normally, I run as per my effort and only check later how am I doing and it wasn’t going to be any different this time as well. Moving along I felt comfortable, staying focused on myself I could sense I’m doing well. At 10K mark when I checked, I was 1 min 32 sec ahead of my target time. I felt good as there were no signs of over exertion, stride was good and breathing was in control. I decided to hold on to the effort till my next target. As expected at 20K I was 3 min and 40 sec ahead, which was invigorating as I felt no sign of fatigue or mental exhaustion. When I turned around for my second loop, I didn’t want to let go and wanted to seize the advantage. Trotting along, at 30K mark I was doing well, heart rate in check, pace was descent and now I was 4 min and 9 sec ahead of scheduled time.

Quickly running through calculations in back of my mind like always, I ascertained that even if I was to run the rest of the race at 6:00 min pace I would be home with a Sub 4 finish, and I was immensely thrilled with that outcome.

But the best laid plans always come to naught…

As I reached the 32k mark, I started feeling sluggish. My pace had dropped to 5:55. Going back to my calculations, and accommodating for tiring body I told myself to stick to sub 6 pace. As I moved along I felt my stride getting shorter and every KM mark I could see the pace sliding down. At 38K mark when my Garmin showed 6:19 lap pace with a total time 3:34:53, my mind quickly computed that my desired calculation of Sub 4 wasn’t possible now. With 4.2KM of minimum distance to be run, I would have had to really push myself against the odds. Suddenly the hamstring niggle which surfaced slightly earlier filled my legs with lead and my left leg refused to move. I decided to give it a break and stretch a little before moving on, but as luck would have, I found it tough to get back in rhythm. Was it my body which was breaking, or did my mind gave up on me, I’m yet to figure that out. Slowly I watched each runner whom I had left behind passing by, some acknowledged and egged me but I could only cheer them back and asked to them to move on. This was my battle, and I had to fight it on my terms. I hopped along for next 4k, and somehow gathered strength to run for the last half a km to keep my head high. Timing clock at the finishers gate showed that I was nearly 11 min over 4 hrs as I crossed over and moved towards the holding area. Friends, other finishers, each one of them welcomed me with high fives, hugs and smiles, but somehow I in my heart carried a shade of disappointment.

Will I ever understand how to conquer it?

The race was over, I did fairly well as per many, timing wasn’t that bad either, but what left me unhappy was those last 4 kilometer. I wasn’t supposed to struggle, I was there to run. So what went wrong, that is my biggest mystery. Did I not train enough, or did I give up on myself too soon? In the days to come, pondering over each of the issue, I tried to pinpoint at various probabilities, and evaluated them against myself.

  1. Inadequate training: Going by my training year before where I struggled with niggles now and then, I induced more strength workout in my schedule. One of the reason my hamstring started jarring could yet be due to relatively lesser strength training.
  2. Aggressive target: From my target last year to finish a moderate paced FM to running an aggressive Sub 4, might sound a big leap but my training runs backed me up and somewhere I was hopeful of cracking it.
  3. Over-Nutrition on the course : I had planned to take gels in a tapering pattern of 9k, 8k, 8k, 7k, 7k considering the higher needs as one tires out. Energy boost after first one lured me to change it to 7k from second gel onward. At 30K I did feel nauseated and over fed, so much that I couldn’t have my fifth gel.
  4. Lack of salt intake: Gel at shorter intervals meant lesser time in between, and the first causality of time management was salt caps which I didn’t have after my first 2, and in all had only 3.
  5. Less water consumption: Though my earlier experiences had alarmed me about this, having trained in pleasant weather failed me on understanding my body’s water requirement on the race day.
  6. Rise in temperature: It was an odd situation, adding to the above point, the entire training was done in winters with running the race in spring. The week before the race saw a sudden rise in temperature which showed the damage it can do to your hydro-logical balance.
  7. Running faster than the plan: Since I’ve always run by the effort, on the race day I landed up running a shade faster than the planned pace, was it my undoing? Can’t say yet as my heart rate remained in the control zone and barely touched Zone 5.
  8. Lack of focus: That’s something that may not be the root cause , but can certainly be a reason to deflate the overall effort. To be in ‘the zone’ for 42 km, is something that still has a long way to go, perhaps.
  9. Lack of flexibility: This was another aspect which I targeted after last year’s debacle, worked extensively and consciously, but the awareness only highlighted gray areas; certainly more work needed.
  10. Lack of guidance /knowledge: How much is enough??? I certainly can never judge.

Mind over body…

While this can be your strength, but can work against you as well. For everything that you may cover, this could be a blanket loss. If I did not falter on any of the above, then it has to be this. Was this the reason that I stumbled? Did that one look at my watch at 38K which showed 3:34:53 blow it up? One little back hand calculation and I knew I had practically lost my chance for a Sub 4, and suddenly it didn’t matter anymore.

The mystery that I wished to unravel this time, to decode what it takes to run a marathon, still remains a mystery. After 34 Half marathons, many more equivalent distance runs and 5 attempts at FM, I still have to know what it takes. Lest I forget, I need to reiterate to myself, it is not just two half marathons, it is not just another long run. I don’t know what it is yet, but I will soon.

The beast still stares at me, with a little smirk on its face, but I know we are friendlier now and it’s just a matter of time.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

An architect by profession, Tarun Walecha enjoys amateur photography, travelling and is a sports enthusiast. He has been a sportsperson all his life and discovered running at the age of 40 and has since become his fitness mantra. In his 7 year running career he has completed 30 Half Marathons, 4 Full Marathon, and 5 Trail/Ultra Runs. He is also a Pinkathon ambassador and has founded the running group, RunXtreme.

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Nutrition Comments (1) |

Eating Right for runners

Marathoner, Dharminder Sharma, talks about the kind of food that is good and bad for the Indian runner.

You can eat whatever you want to, because you are a distance runner so you can digest everything – how many times have we heard this advice from the so-called experts to newly christened long distance runners!

Another statement often heard is that I run long distances so that I can eat whatever I want.

There cannot be two worse statements about diet than these!

Eating right is as important for a long distance runner as it is for anybody else. One can never overstate the importance of eating the right kind of food and food supplements to ensure a life-long injury free running experience. Carbohydrates, proteins and fats take up a major part of our daily diet although fibre, vitamins, minerals and water are also indispensable.

What are carbs?

In India, carbs are generally considered to be wheat and rice and most do not know much about what other foods contain carbs. Fruits, salads, vegetables, nuts, sweets and legumes (daals) all contain carbs.

What are simple and complex carbs?

A general advice given by Dietitians to health conscious individuals and runners is to go for complex carbs rather than simple ones. Without going into the science of the advantages of complex carbs and the disadvantages of the other, a simple listing of the items would help a runner or a fitness enthusiast choose the right diet. The common examples of simple carbs that a runner should avoid or restrict in quantity are white breads, sugar and sugary products like candies, toffees, chocolates (except a small piece of dark chocolate) and mithhai (traditional Indian sweets), fruit juices (especially canned ones), white rice, most bakery products, potato chips and cold drinks, this list is, however, not exhaustive.

The complex and healthy carbs that one should prefer are whole grain breads, chapatis made of whole wheat, Bajra, Ragi and other coarse grains/millet, brown rice, beans, nuts, oats and oatmeal, quinoa, fruits especially less sugary ones like guava, papaya and pineapple, sweet potatoes and leafy greens.

What about protein in diet?

When it comes to proteins, there is a popular myth that only the body builders or hard core gym enthusiasts need to consume proteins. That is not true because our body needs proteins to build muscles that provide the necessary support during runs. Proteins help build the muscles and they are required to recover the muscles after a long strenuous run. Therefore, a runner’s diet requires proteins in good quantities.

A long distance runner under training should have at least 0.8 gm of protein per kg of body weight per day in order to stay injury free. Some of the protein rich ‘foods’ that one can add in daily diet are chicken breast, fish, sunflower seed, almond, quinoa, egg white, low fat cottage cheese (paneer), chick pea (chana), whole lentils (chhilka daal), oat, beans, soya milk, broccoli, brown rice and peas, to name a few.

How do fats help?

Besides, the carbohydrates and proteins, fats take another major part of human diet. We often hear of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fats – good are the ones that should be more in quantity. However, often when people get their lipid (fat) profiles checked through blood tests and come across technical terminology, it is little difficult for them to correlate in the laboratory reports as to what are the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ fats. Even if they are able to make out what these are, they often do not have an idea as to how to increase or decrease their levels in our bodies. The best way to increase good fats is to eat the food that naturally contains large quantities of ‘good’ fats.  Some of the ‘foods’ that contain high to very high quantities of these ‘good fats’ are almond, walnut, flaxseed, olive, canola, chia seed, pistachio, fish oil especially cod liver oil.

Never forget the Vitamins & Minerals

One can never over-emphasize the importance of flaxseeds in the daily diet. They are a rich source of natural omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin B1 and B6 and are one of the most nutrient rich foods that also contain protein, dietary fibre, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous and selenium. Flaxseeds are low in carbs and therefore, very useful for someone looking to shed weight. They are also good for cardiac health as they lower cholesterol levels and the antioxidants in them slow down the process of aging.

How much fibre is enough?

We often ignore the importance of another ‘food’ in our diet and that is dietary fibre. Some of the above-mentioned foods do contain dietary fibres in large quantities and should form a part of the daily diet no matter whether the person is training or is in the midst of an event. I say this because a lot of literature on the internet advises against eating fibre and protein rich diet the day before the event and in fact advises eating pasta. Since most of the literature is from the perspective of the West, this advice may hold well in that context but my advice to an Indian runner would be to go for the same diet that one is used to eating which may be Roti, Idli, rice, Dosa, etc.

The night before the big race

If you are used to eating Daal, Roti, Kheera, rice and Dahi as your regular diet, there is absolutely no harm eating it the night before the event. There is absolutely no sense going on a hunt the evening before an event for a restaurant that serves pasta if you have gone to a new city to run in an event. Just stick to familiar foods that have worked for you during the training, if they have worked for you so far they would surely work now. Remember, the day before the event or a marathon is not the right time to try a new food in a new city! In fact, eating familiar food will actually prevent the constipation on the morning of your event and save you precious time to enable you to reach the event fresh and in time.

Fitness and a healthy eating has to be a continuous journey and not a time bound target for a runner or a fitness person. I would conclude by giving another important advice – spicy and oily foods the day before the event whether or not you are used to eating them, are an absolute ‘No’!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dharminder Sharma is an Indian Forest Service Officer (IFS) who has been running long distances for more than ten years. He has attended most of the major marathons in India and a few abroad. He has also started many running clubs in the Northern Indian region and organising quality runs for runners is one of his many passions

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Uncategorized Comments Off on Beat the Sugar habit |

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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Nutrition Comments Off on Power of Plant Protein |

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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Nutrition Comments Off on 5 Nutritious Smoothie Recipes for Runners |

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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