Spartan Inferences and Targeted Nutrition, Part II
Our bodies are literally built from what we eat. As runners and athletes, we must think about the food we put into our bodies as fuel; fuel to run, fuel to recover, and fuel to build. In Part I of this series, I shared my recent experience in the 2017 Austin Spartan Super and how I overcame inflammation and autoimmunity with nutrition and a few lifestyle changes. In Part II, I share my nutrition bag of tricks, nutrition tips for runners and athletes, that are sure to put a little pep in your step, no matter your level.
First and foremost, a solid nutrition foundation is essential. Nutrition completion, in contrast to nutrition depletion, is having all the nutrients available to your body that it needs to function optimally, at the right time. Athletes and runners do need a little more nutrition than non-athletes and a nutrient rich diet becomes crucial for any athlete wanting to perform their best. While there isn’t a simple blood test that can determine if one is adequately nourished with every nutrient needed, we can get close with the use of specialized blood tests and a thorough evaluation of health history and consistent food intake, taking into consideration how specific health conditions increase the need for certain nutrients.
I strongly believe in personalized diets that focus on specific foods needed to support an individual’s physiological weaknesses. I have found the use of a nutrition roadmap extremely helpful for keeping my clients and myself focused on those specific foods. On a daily basis, I focus on getting enough protein at all three of my meals, plenty of healthy unoxidzed fats, and an abundance of veggies that target inflammation and detoxification. For me, this might look like:
- Breakfast – veggie-based pancake (sweet potato, pumpkin or carrot), boiled eggs and kale salad with green tea, milk thistle or dandelion tea.
- Lunch – Salad in a jar made with olive oil and vinegar, quinoa, chicken breast, red cabbage, radish, spinach, nuts, seeds and dried fruit.
- Dinner – Honey turmeric chicken with asparagus.
- Snacks – banana, almond butter, walnut stuffed olives, bone broth
From this foundation, I add nutrition during workouts if needed, and always have recovery nutrition. Nutrition during workouts and running focuses mostly on carbs, water and electrolytes. For recovery, I focus on a certain amount of carbs and protein, but also drink fluids according to my sweat rate.
For each event, I have a specific nutrition regimen based on the length and intensity of the course. Below, I outline my nutrition before, during and after the Spartan Super.
My Spartan Super Nutrition Bag of Tricks:
Beginning three days before: Oral I.V., morning and night.
Oral I.V. advertisements have been popping up on my Facebook feed for the last year. I’ve always thought it sounded like an interesting product, but I didn’t quite get it. About a week before the Spartan, I ran across an article on the Oral I.V. website with specific recommendations for using Oral I.V. for the Spartan Super, so I read a little further and decided to test it out. Honestly, I still didn’t quite get it. After I returned home from the Spartan, I was so impressed with how the product had me feeling after the Super, that I spent two hours watching YouTube interviews with the creator of Oral I.V., Dr. Anthony Beck, explaining how Oral I.V. works, and more time reading and emailing the company directly with questions. Apparently, I’m not the only person who doesn’t quite get it and there is somewhat of a controversy surrounding the product. I must admit; I was a little disappointed with Dr. Beck’s explanation of Oral I.V. on the videos I watched. Oral I.V. explains the product as somewhat of an aid, allowing the body to use water more efficiently. From what I understand, Oral I.V. helps cells absorb and use water better. I somewhat got it, but felt that Dr. Beck was leaving out a lot of the specifics because he was afraid someone might take his idea and run with it (which is understandable). Unfortunately, there are currently no research studies on the product, but Dr. Beck said that studies take time and money, and were in future plans. Those videos were from 2013, and there have yet to be studies. Until a research study has been done to prove that Oral I.V. does what it says it does, then it is a theory. However, Oral I.V.’s followers strongly believe in the product and I can say that this was the first race I’ve run where I didn’t feel like eating a package of hot dogs afterwards, and this was the longest, most demanding run I have had to date. I’m attributing how well I felt after the Spartan to Oral I.V. and Salt Stick Chews (see below). While the lack of research and transparency with consumers frustrates me, I do like the results of the product and plan to continue using it. I cannot emphasize enough my lack of thirst cravings after the Spartan Super. I felt well hydrated. If you want to try it for yourself, email me at [email protected] for a 20% discount code. Please note, I am not selling Oral I.V., nor do I make any money from sharing this code with you. It is important to keep in mind that Oral I.V. does not replace fluid or electrolytes. Oral I.V. can be added to your normal hydration regimen. I recommend drinking plenty of water and consuming electrolytes according to your sweat rate.
Breakfast: Gluten free Kashi waffles and boiled eggs
While carbs are essential for energy during running, I always include protein at my last pre-event meal to help stabilize my blood sugar, allowing the carbs to be used more efficiently. I travel with homemade gluten free pancakes or gluten free Kashi waffles and boiled eggs.
1-1/2 hours before: Organic Red Ace Beet Juice Shot
Red Ace is a concentrated beet juice shot (http://redaceorganics.com). Research shows that less energy is used during the same run when the run follows a beet juice shot. Check it out: http://www.runnersworld.com/sw…/beet-juice-how-much-and-when. I must admit that half way through my Spartan, I realized I had forgotten to take my Red Ace. However, I have used Red Ace many times during training runs and events and love the extra boost of energy it gives me! Be sure to take yours 1-1/2 hours before physical activity to give it plenty of time to do its magic. Oh, and don’t worry about the taste. It is delicious! Another brand that I recommend is Sport Beet It https://www.beet-it.ca.
At the start line: Skratch Labs Fruit Drops / Honey Stinger Waffle
I always send myself off with an extra carb boost. Any carb you have at the start line and during your event needs to be “fast acting,” or mostly simple sugars to minimize G.I. distress. Avoid fiber, protein and fat directly before and during an event. Skratch Labs Fruit Drops are my go-to “send me off” https://www.skratchlabs.com/collections/food/products/fruit-drops. I love Fruit Drops’ texture and taste, plus they contain just the right amount of carbs and digest great. Some days I like to have something that has more of a real food feel, and that is when the Organic Gluten Free Honey Stinger Waffles come on board. I’m not a huge fan of some of the ingredients, but these waffles taste great and have a good amount of carbs and digest easily http://www.honeystinger.com/organic-stinger-waffles.html.
During: Salt Stick Fast Chews and Honey Stinger Gels
I took two gels during the Spartan Super and could immediately feel a kick of energy. Organic Honey Stinger Gels are my all-time favorite for their mix of carb sources (it is always a good idea to have two sources rather than one), their organic certification, GI gentleness and great taste http://www.honeystinger.com/gels.html. I also took one salt stick fast chew with each gel http://saltstick.com/product/saltstick-fastchews/. This was my first time to use any salt stick product, and my husband and I loved the fast chews. For one, they worked great! As I mentioned, this was the first event (ever) where I didn’t feel really thirsty and crave salty food afterward. My husband’s quads started cramping and within a couple of minutes of taking a fast chew, he was cramping no more. The chews were easy enough for me to take and pop in my mouth on course, and they tasted great. I’m a big fan of Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix and appreciate the inclusion of calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium, as all are lost during sweat and need to be replaced. Many electrolyte replacements focus on sodium without the inclusion of the other electrolytes. While sodium is lost in the greatest amounts, the loss of other electrolytes can also cause issues. Magnesium deficiency, for example, can cause headache, nausea and weakness as it is needed for activating ATP, muscles and nerves. Many of you who have experienced these symptoms during or after an event might consider your magnesium status as it is estimated that 80% of us are deficient in the important mineral (http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/01/19/magnesium-deficiency.aspx). I also believe that Skratch’s use of magnesium, sodium and potassium in their citrate forms is much easier on the GI tract. Salt Stick Fast Chews also include these electrolytes, and in their citrate form. The only drawback for me is a few of the ingredients in the fast chews, like silica and crospovidone.
I drank plenty of water with each gel and salt stick chew (4-6 oz). Keep in mind that your dosing of salt stick fast chews will vary greatly depending on your individual sweat rate.
Post: Perfect Bar
You don’t want to get between me and my Perfect Bar https://perfectbar.com. Perfect Bars are high in protein (the first thing I look for when choosing a recovery, snack or meal bar). And by “high,” I mean they have 13 grams of protein. I wouldn’t choose anything with less protein than this. They are minimally processed and in fact, it is recommended to keep in the fridge because they are so fresh. I love the extra boost I get from the 20 + superfoods tucked inside. Because I don’t do gluten, I always travel with a few Perfect Bars in case I can’t find gluten free snacks or meals along the way.
I drank water throughout the event at water stops and from my DolfinPack: https://dolfinpack.com.
I do not receive any reimbursement from any of the companies mentioned in this article. For questions related to fueling and nutrition, email me directly at [email protected] and check out my nutrition coaching memberships at RockItCoaching.com.