Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pasta Alternatives for Pre-Endurance Fueling

During marathon season, fellow runners ask what they should eat the night before to fuel a long training run.  Most runners automatically assume the answer is pasta. While pasta is a great choice, it can cause gastrointestinal troubles for some, and it can simply get old and boring for others.

Runners with Celiac disease simply cannot eat a wheat-based pasta (regular pasta made with wheat contains gluten, a wheat protein that triggers digestive problems in Celiac disease patients).  Runners suffering from non-Celiac gluten sensitivity also may find pasta to be a poor pre-race choice.  Runners in neither of these categories simply may be eating too much pasta, or choosing a sauce that may cause gastrointestinal issues.  Cream sauces (think penne a la vodka) are heavy in fat and digest slowly, which can cause race day stomach issues. A simple marinara sauce, while having little or no fat,  may be too acidic and cause acid reflux.

Picture: Thinkstock Source: National Features

Training season is the best time to test-drive your pre-race meal vs. trying something new the night before race day. Why not try some of these carbohydrate-rich alternatives to pasta the night before a long run:

·         White rice:  Cook up a bowl of white rice, toss with vegetables, and a tablespoon of teriyaki or soy sauce for flavor. Or, eat rice as a side dish with a lean protein like chicken or fish.
·         Sweet potato: Cut sweet potato into pieces, cut up an apple, grab some golden raisins, toss them all together in a light drizzle of olive oil, season with paprika and garlic powder, and bake.
·         Breakfast for dinner: What about a batch of blueberry pancakes? Cut back on sugar and use a small spread of jam on the pancakes with some peanut butter vs. traditional pancake syrup.  Even a bagel with jam and peanut butter for those lazy, no-cook nights.
·         Rice-based pasta: For those with Celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, cook up a rice-based (gluten-free) pasta. As with regular pasta, be careful of your sauce choice. Try tossing it in olive oil, garlic powder, and parmesan cheese. Or try a balsamic glaze with veggies mixed in.
·         Healthy pizza: Buy a pre-made thick pizza crust (thick crust = more carbs). Use a thin layer of pizza sauce, and approximately ½-3/4 cup (depending on size of crust) of a low-fat shredded mozzarella. Sprinkle whatever toppings you crave: black olives, broccoli, slices of turkey pepperoni, mushrooms, or chopped grilled chicken.  You may omit cheese and use only veggies and pizza sauce.

Race training is not just for logging miles, but for testing out what makes your gut happy. A big bowl of rice and veggies may be just what you need to power you through your long run, while another runner may feel best eating a large baked sweet potato and baked breaded chicken. Fine tune your pre-race fueling during training months and never try something new the night before or morning of a race.

Alison Barkman, MS, RD, CDN is an adjunct professor for nutrition undergraduates at LIU/Post in Brookville, NY. An avid runner and gym rat, she is asked questions daily about nutrition and exercise. Her love for all things sports nutrition has driven her to begin a sports nutrition practice in Garden City, NY (Long Island). She can be reached at AlisonBarkmanNutrition@gmail.com or 516-220-9320. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Feast on Beets!

Picture Source  
It’s no secret that vegetables are good for us. But the humble beet may have a little extra to offer. Beets are high in inorganic nitrates which may exert an ergogenic – or performance enhancing – effect. In fact, consuming beetroot juice may have the ability to improve running performance and reduce the oxygen costs of exercise.1

A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics looked at whether eating 200 grams of whole beetroot, which is about 500 mg of nitrates, prior to exercise would improve running performance during a treadmill time trial.2 The study used a double-blind crossover design in which subjects ate either baked beets or a placebo consisting of cranberry relish 75 minutes prior to completing a 5 kilometer treadmill time trail test. It turns out that those who consumed the baked beets significantly improved their running times by three percent. While this difference may not seem like much, a three percent faster time translates to a 41 second faster finishing time. This increase in performance is most likely due to the conversion of nitrate to nitrite and finally to nitric oxide in the body.
So how does dietary nitrate get converted to nitric oxide?

The breakdown and use of dietary nitrates actually begins in your mouth. The bacteria on your tongue help reduce about a quarter of the dietary nitrate from foods – such as beets – to nitrite which is then swallowed and reduced to nitric oxide when it mixes with the acid in your stomach. Nitric oxide regulates vasodilation, relaxing blood vessels and increasing blood flow, which reduces the oxygen cost of exercise. This means, your muscles can use less energy to produce the same amount of work.3

From a practical standpoint, this study indicates that consuming 200 g of beetroot, or two medium sized beets – equating to approximately 500 mg of nitrates – an hour or two before exercise could improve your running performance. Different methods of cooking techniques – such as baking or pureeing – do not appear to reduce the nitrate content. Therefore, don’t be afraid to get creative even though drinking beet root juice may be more palatable. Try smoothies, bake them into chips, or try other recipes from the web!

Gavin Van De Walle is an ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer, a NANBF Natural Competitive bodybuilder, a nutrition columnist for “The Collegian,” and a dietetic student at South Dakota State University. Once Gavin becomes an RD, he will aim to achieve the distinguished Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) credential.
1.       Ormsbee MJ, Lox J, Arciero PJ. Beetroot juice and exercise performance. Nutr Diet Suppl. 2013:5 27-35.
2.       Murphy, M., Eliot, K., Heuertz, R., Weiss, E. Whole beetroot consumption acutely improves running performance. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012; 112(4):548-552.
3.       Larsen FJ, Sschiffer TA, Borniquel S, et al. Dietary inorganic nitrate improves mitochondrial efficiency in humans. Cell Metab. 2011; 13(2): 149-59.

Monday, October 13, 2014

How to help your team win with nutrition: One Coach’s Report

Below is a letter I received from a soccer coach whose team has embraced proper fueling as a way to get to the winners’ circle.  I hope it will inspire you to get your team on the Good Nutrition bandwagon!

Dear Nancy,
I wanted to give you an update on what's happening with our boys’ high school soccer team. Inspired by your Food Guide For Soccer, we've slowly gone from giving only very basic nutrition advice other than "hydrate and eat carbs" to a full-fledged nutrition "battle plan.”

Source: www.thefootballeducator.com

 Pre-season, the head coach asked if I would talk to the players on nutrition, explaining he wanted to make nutrition education a big part of this years’ season.  I agreed and have talked to the players, sometimes several times a week. The information I give them comes almost exclusively from your Food Guide for Soccer, Sports Nutrition Guidebook, website, and other articles you have written. The players are being taught, to the best of our ability, the what, when's and why's of nutrition and how it impacts them and their game. 

Our official high school season began on Aug 31 with two games against two very tough opponents.  We ended the day with two wins.  3-0 and 5-0. We are about half way through our regular season with a record of 7 wins, 1 tie and two losses.  We are one game away from first place in our division and the team has their sights set on a county championship as well as a district and state title.

The players are engaged and believe in the nutrition improvement effort. They've felt and seen the results and most (dare I say all?) of them get it.  I had to chuckle as some of the boys told me that that about a half hour before their first game this season they saw most of the opposing team line up at the snack bar and walk away eating hot dogs, burgers and fried chicken.  Our nutrition guide (something I prepare for each game) for that game advised them to avoid those items. We offered them alternatives.  Fresh fruit, thick-crust pizza, soft pretzels, and a choice of chocolate milk, water or sports drinks.  We beat the opposing team 5-0.  First time in 3 years!

For critical evening games, we'll often keep them at school and feed them before they board the bus at 4:30. They have all trained their bodies to accept pre- and mid-game fueling. We've just started to include an additional "emergency" bag of gummies to be used if we find ourselves in overtime situations. We offer them low fat chocolate milk within 15-20 minutes of the end of each game.  They all enjoy it and they all know WHAT it's doing for them. They've made their water bottle their best friend. This season leg cramps are extremely rare. 

I keep reinforcing my doubt that any team we face will be as well prepared nutritionally. While some teams we'll face may be technically better, most of them will hit the wall by halftime.  The “good nutrition advantage” as you know is both physical and psychological. That's powerful.

The players now consider proper fueling to be their secret weapon.  The gummy bear bag is passed around discretely during halftime and the post-game refueling never takes place within view of the opposing team.  FUNNY!  It shows me they believe!

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the helpful information in your books!

With appreciation,
A happy high school soccer-nutrition coach

Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD
Sports nutrition counselor, consultant, speaker

www.sportsnutritionworkshop.com (Philly 1/24; Pitt. 2/7; online 24-7)
www.nancyclarkrd.com (books, handouts, PowerPoint talks)

Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook NEW Fifth Edition
Food guides for soccer, new runners, marathoners, cyclists
Twitter.com/nclarkrd   iPhone app: Recipes for Athletes

1155 Walnut St, Newton Highlands, MA 02461

Phone:  617.795.1875  Fax: 617.963.7408

Monday, October 6, 2014

Keeping Your Youth Athlete Hydrated…Even in the Fall

source: www.volusia.org
Q. I’m the coach of both a youth football team and a youth baseball team in the summer, I’ve have noticed that the kids ask for water breaks during baseball more often than in the fall. Since the weather is typically cooler in the fall, should I schedule less water breaks or should I give the football players the same drinking opportunities as the kids in the summer?

Yes, you should indeed schedule as many water breaks! For youth football players, the weather can become tropical inside their uniforms. They can sweat a lot, even if the weather feels cool for the coaches and parents. Yet, because the weather is cool, the kids may not think to drink as often.

If the kids become dehydrated, they will be cranky, tired, and have less fun. One goal of youth sports is to have FUN! So please do offer your team frequent drinking opportunities. You can use the breaks as a time to educate the kids about the importance of staying well hydrated so they feel better and prevent needless fatigue.

As for what to drink, water is generally fine for youth sports. As long as they have had a pre-practice snack, they will have the energy they need to perform well and will not need sugar-based sports drinks. They will not be sweating enough to require the little bit of sodium (electrolyte) that is in a sports drink. Sports drinks are designed to be taken during endurance exercise that lasts for more than 1.5 hours, such as marathons; sports drinks generally are not essential for youth sports.

While many kids enjoy sports drinks before, during and after practices and games, I’d encourage wholesome foods before exercise (banana, bagel, orange, graham crackers), water during, and chocolate milk afterwards (if the kids will not be eating a meal soon thereafter). Chcolate milk for recovery contains both carbs to refuel the muscles, as well as protein to build and repair muscles – as well as calcium for growing bones.

With best wishes for a rewarding season,

Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD
Sports nutrition counselor, consultant, speaker

www.sportsnutritionworkshop.com (Philly 1/24; Pitt. 2/7; online 24-7)
www.nancyclarkrd.com (books, handouts, PowerPoint talks)

Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook NEW Fifth Edition
Food guides for soccer, new runners, marathoners, cyclists
Twitter.com/nclarkrd   iPhone app: Recipes for Athletes

1155 Walnut St, Newton Highlands, MA 02461
617.795.1875  Fax: 617.963.7408