Fuel Up! Nutrition Tips For Your Next Run

Ever find yourself running on fumes at the end of long run? Or maybe you’ve felt sluggish during miles that you normally have a bit more spring in your step.

Although there are several reasons a run can turn into a ride on the struggle bus, one culprit may be nutrition. Below, Nicole Kerneen RD,CD,CSSD, with Froedtert’s Runners’ Clinic, helps us understand the role nutrition plays in training and how you can fuel better your next run.

How can eating right help improve a person’s running?

For any sport, eating right helps with performance and recovery, and sometimes performance even lies within the recovery. Athletes in general don’t realize how important good rest and proper recovery nutrition are for their overall gains and performance. Nutrition is everything. It helps to decrease inflammation that’s built up from running, which in turn helps decrease muscle breakdown. It helps to decrease stress hormone, which is elevated while running, and therefore helps a person recover in a more timely manner, especially with two-a-day workouts and quick turnovers between runs.

What are some common mistakes you see runners making when it comes to nutrition? How might these mistakes be corrected?

Improper recovery and hydration. I tell all my athletes, recovery starts at breakfast. Recovery starts immediately. Going into your run strong helps you come out of it even stronger with less tissue damage and therefore less damage control. Meal timing and proper planning is crucial.

What are some common myths about running and nutrition? What’s the truth behind the myths?

A common myth is if I’m smaller, I run faster. This is not true. Your speed, stamina, endurance and agility are all determined by training your body physically and eating to support that training.

Another myth is that carbs are bad, fat is better. This is also not true. Your body responds to how you train it. If you force it to rely on fat for energy, then eventually it will respond well by this, but switching over takes time and many people don’t feel well during the process. Depending on the type of activity, level and training, this form of eating can create a lot of stress on the body. There is a time and a place for all types of intake. It’s important to work with someone trained in all areas of nutrition to help you understand what would be best for your particular body and body type.

What does a good diet look like for runners in training? What types of foods should runners include in their diets? Are there any foods that should be limited or avoided?

A good diet is going to vary from one person to the next depending on their likes, dislikes, lifestyle, running demands and other training schedules. For the most part, a focus on good quality carbohydrates spread throughout the day, in addition to lean proteins, some healthy fats and a focus on anti-inflammatory choices from any of those categories.

I recommend eating fish whenever possible, as well as lean meats such as pork and poultry. Eggs are powerful to include in any diet as they are loaded with such great choline and some vitamin D and clean burn proteins. And let’s not forget about greens!!! My clients get sick of me talking about greens, but they are everyone’s best friend. They are loaded with antioxidants, vitamin K, calcium, iron, magnesium – all of which are phenomenal for muscle and tissue health in addition to good skin and healthy bones. Greens help neutralize the acids in our diet, which help to maintain good bone health. On top of the foods mentioned above, berries, apples, bananas and mangos are loaded with antioxidants, incredible doses of potassium and are rich in slow-burn carbohydrates, which is the preferred energy source of the body.

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There’s so much hype around limiting carbohydrates, but study after study, still shows how efficient carbs are for a runner. They create the less stress for the body to convert to energy and on top of that, they carry all those stress fighting B vitamins that help the body manage the stress of working out, enhancing recovery and keeping brain chemistry balanced as well. They also aid in identifying true hunger cues.

Anti-inflammatory fats such as avocados, nuts and nut butter (just make sure they are dry roasted and not laden with inflammatory oils), olive oil, small amounts of coconut oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oil, etc. are also crucial for good joint and heart health. The key to these is having them a couple hours before and after a workout. Fats can inhibit proper recovery as they slow down the re-uptake of carbs and protein into the muscle.

Let’s talk about pre- and post-workout nutrition. When is it appropriate to eat a pre-workout snack and what are some good options? When is it appropriate to eat a post-workout snack and what are some good options?

Eating a pre-workout snack depends on the intensity and length of your workout in addition to your last meal. If it’s been three hours since you’ve eaten and dinner is still another three hours away, then it’s absolutely necessary for you to have a pre-workout snack, anywhere between 30-60min before you start the workout. It’s important to have the right kind of carbs –typically something that has a combination of carbs so you have a faster release blended with a moderate and slow release. This helps you have a steady and powerful energy throughout the workout. It’s also good to have a small amount of protein going into a workout to release some amino acid in the blood stream and aid in less tissue breakdown.

Depending on likes and dislikes, workouts, etc., a few snack recommendations include:

  • A Clif bar – It offers a 3:1 carb to protein ratio with a nice blend of the different types of carbs.
  • A regular, fruited yogurt – This snack is most excellent for magnesium and potassium and offers at least a 2:1 carb to protein ratio. However, most are a solid 3:1 ratio.
  • A peanut butter sandwich with a piece of fruit
  • A “GORP” type snack mix with dried fruit/pretzels or Goldfish crackers and your favorite Chex-like cereal. This mix provides you with different carbs, sodium and potassium….all easy-burn carbs so they don’t upset your stomach.

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Protein isn’t always necessary before a workout, but depending on timing and amounts – I’m talking about 10 grams – it can be a nice enhancement. This is why you see people taking in amino acids of BCAA’s before a workout. However, this isn’t necessary – a piece of string cheese or an ounce of chicken, tuna or turkey with a piece of bread or crackers and fruit is great!

Post-workout snacks are also critical. When I work with someone, I use their amount of lean mass to help determine their carb needs post workout. It’s the muscle we are fueling and refueling, so knowing one’s muscle mass is really important. A post-workout snack can consist of anywhere between 45 and 110grams of carbs – it all depends on the muscle mass for the individual. Without knowing specific numbers, I always suggest at least 45grams.

Similar to a pre-workout snack, an immediate post-workout snack also needs a 3-4:1 ratio of carbs to protein. This is why chocolate milk has been touted as one of the best and most effective post-workout drinks. It has fast and slower burning carbs to keep the recovery going until the next meal (preferably no longer than two hours post workout) and it has just enough protein. Post workout protein needs vary between 12-20 grams. Studies have shown that anything more than 20 grams is overkill.

A few post-workout snack examples include:

  • 12-16oz of chocolate milk
  • Regular yogurt + fruit or cereal
  • Clif bar

Smoothies or shakes are also great after a run because they also help with rehydration. Here’s a basic recipe to make a post-run smoothie:

Banana

1 scoop of protein powder – 10ish grams worth OR 1 cup of regular yogurt or ½ cup of Greek yogurt

1 cup of fruit

1 Tbsp of honey

¼ – ½ cup of oatmeal

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What types of Performance Nutrition services are offered through the Runners’ Clinic?

  • Performance Nutrition Assessment – During this assessment, the athlete tells me about their current situation and I ask a few more questions so I can provide immediate feedback. No plan is created and a body comp read is optional unless I find it necessary based on our conversation.
  • Performance Nutrition Consult – This consult and the assessment can go hand in hand. At a full consult, we identify goals and trouble areas. I do a complete intake of one’s diet/training and lifestyle. In addition, we always take a body fat read so I can better create a program based on their present and desired state. A plan is also developed during the session and the client goes home with information based on their body.
  • Grocery Store Performance – I meet the athlete at their favorite grocery store and we walk the aisles. I educate and also help them put together meals and snacks based on their needs.
  • Pantry Performance – This is where I come to the athlete’s home or they take a picture of what they currently have in their pantry. I give them ideas and recipes to help them obtain a pantry built for performance.
  • Performance Nutrition Overhaul – This includes several sessions – all of the sessions listed above with some additional follow-up. This is a real hands-on program, offering tailored plans and lots of education!

How can all runners – experienced and beginners, competitive and non-competitive – benefit from Performance Nutrition services?

Everyone can benefit from working with a Board-Certified Sports Dietitian. We are trained in all areas of physiology and dietetics in addition to the emphasis on sports and exercise. Some, like myself, are also trained in eating disorders and disordered eating and have a wealth of experience working with different behaviors and changes through the life cycle a.k.a hormonal and endocrine changes. Anyone who wants to make sure that they are giving themselves the nutrition they need can benefit from getting a review of their current intake. A lot can be learned with just one session! The body is an intricate piece of work. Not everyone is the same so it’s important that health past and present be used to determine what the individual needs today!

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Nicole! To learn more about the Runners’ Clinic and Performance Nutrition services, visit http://www.froedtert.com/sports-medicine/performance-enhancement/nutrition

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

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Let Them Eat Pizza!

Like many runners, you probably consider pizza more of a splurge – a food to be eaten only occasionally to avoid an expanding waistline. But a recent issue of Runners World featured an article all about pizza. Healthy pizzas. Runner friendly pizzas. It got us thinking, why shouldn’t we eat more pizza? After all, it’s a great source of carbs and protein and doesn’t have to be laden with calories and fat like ones from the fast food joints.

If you’re careful about what you put on your pizza, it could even be just the thing to fuel up with the day or night before your next long run or race. Here’s one of our favorite ways to make runner friendly pizza.

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Chicken Sausage & Sweet Potato Pizza

Serves 4

1 sweet potato, diced

1 Tbsp olive oil

Garlic Powder

Cayenne Pepper

2 chicken sausage links, Italian style (we used Trader Joe’s)

4 pieces of Naan bread (we used Trader Joe’s)

8 Tbsp pizza sauce (we used Trader Joe’s)

2/3 cup mozzarella cheese (we used 2 percent)

1 red pepper, diced

1/2 cup grape tomatoes, diced

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put the diced sweet potato on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the garlic powder and cayenne pepper to taste. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

While the potatoes are roasting, slice the chicken sausage links and add to a small, nonstick skillet. Cook until heated through.

To assemble the pizzas:

Spread 2 Tbsp pizza sauce on each piece of Naan bread. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese, then top with the chicken sausage and sweet potato. Finish by adding the diced red pepper and grape tomatoes.

Bake the pizzas on a cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Join our pizza party: What’s your favorite way to make pizza healthier? OR What are your favorite pizza toppings?

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

The Great Pasta Roundup

Call us traditional, but we love pasta to refuel after a workout as well as fuel up the night before a long run or race. But sometimes, the same old spaghetti with marinara sauce gets a tad . . . boring.

Fortunately, it’s possible to meet your nutritional needs, while also satisfying your tastebuds. Here are a few of our favorite pasta recipes from local bloggers who run:

Chicken Orzo Pasta Salad – A lighter pasta dish that can be made in advance so all you need to do after your run is open your refrigerator, spoon a serving on your plate and devour!

Creamy Avocado Pasta – Who doesn’t love Fettuccine Alfredo? The things we don’t love are all the cream, butter and fat. This recipe is a lightened-up version of a classic pasta dish and we think it’s even better than the original. It’s impossible to go wrong with avocados!

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Gnocchi with White Beans – We recently read that Killian Jornet sometimes fuels up with gnocchi, so if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for us. This flavor packed recipe is easy to make and energy dense.

Mexican Style Quinoa – While technically not pasta, this dish had to be included. Perfect for vegetarians and great for everyone looking for a recipe with Mexican flair.

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Quick & Easy Turkey Ragu – The thing that sold us on this recipe were the words “quick” and “easy”. Fellow runners will understand – after cramming in a 10 miler after work, the last thing you want to do is slave over the stove.

Spinach Artichoke Mac & Cheese – Comfort food that’s been lightened up a bit. You might want to save this one for after a long run or race.

All this pasta talk is making us hungry! Does anyone else have a pasta recipe they’d like to share? If so, comment below or send us an email at keeprunningmke@gmail.com – we’d love to hear from you!

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Wanted: Recipes That Fuel Your Miles

Variety is the spice of life. And that’s especially true when it comes to eating healthy to fuel your miles. After all, who wants to eat the same boring plate of spaghetti every night? That’s right, no one.

So let’s spice it up, MKE! We want to include your favorite recipes in future posts about what real local runners eat. Whether it’s an old family recipe or something you found online, send it our way at keeprunningmke@gmail.com.

To get you started, here’s a recipe we recently discovered at The Fit Girl’s Kitchen (authored by an MKE runner!).

Red Quinoa Avocado Salad with Lemon-Cumin Vinaigrette

via The Fit Girl’s Kitchen (Adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine)

Ingredients

3 Tbs. raisins (preferably a mix of dark and golden)

2 Tbs. dried apricots, thinly sliced

1 cup red or white quinoa, rinsed well

1 large lemon

3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp. ground coriander

1/4 tsp. ground cumin

1/4 tsp. sweet paprika

2 medium firm-ripe avocados (6 to 7 oz. each), pitted, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks

2 medium scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced

2 to 3 Tbs. coarsely chopped toasted almonds

Freshly ground black pepper & kosher salt

Instructions

In a medium bowl, soak the raisins and apricots in hot water for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a 2-quart saucepan, bring 2 cups water, the quinoa, and 1/2 tsp. salt to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is translucent and tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

Immediately fluff the quinoa with a fork and turn it out onto a baking sheet to cool to room temperature. (FGK note: Make sure to do this step – if you don’t and try to mix it all right away, the quinoa becomes sticky and mushy.)

Finely grate the zest from the lemon and then whisk the lemon zest and 1 Tbs. lemon juice with olive oil, coriander, cumin, paprika, and 1/4 tsp. salt. In a large bowl, toss the vinaigrette with the quinoa, raisins, apricots, avocado, scallions, and almonds. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Check out Kat’s blog for more great recipes.

That’s all we’ve got for today. Stay tuned for another runner profile later this week.

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!