FOOD FOR….. DURING TRAINING
The key strategy behind eating during training is to maintain glucose/glycogen levels, so the types of foods you eat are VERY important. This is where quick release, glucose rich sugar foods can be used strategically to maintain performance.
Also, it is important not to eat foods containing fat and/or protein at this time as this will slow down the digestion/absorption rate of the sugars, which will delay utilisation that could impact performance.
It is not always necessary to eat during a run. It will depend on how long you are running for, the distance you are running, the intensity of the run, your metabolic rate amongst other individual factors. As a rule of thumb, if your run is less than 90mins then there is no need to eat DURING a run. BUT this may not be the case for everyone, E.G. someone with diabetes may require additional feeding.
From a health and nutritional view-point as a runner, our aims during running are to ensure we have sustained energy throughout so we can maintain performance, BUT also to help reduce the risk of injury and illness and support speedy and efficient recovery following training so we are ready and energised for our next run.
Introducing the 4 foods we will spotlight in this episode:
· Medjool Dates
We have chosen medjool dates in particular because their natural sugar content per date is very high. To make a comparison:
· 1 medjool date contains 18g of CHO of which 16g is sugar
· 1 Deglet Noor date (another type commonly eaten in the UK) contains only 5g of CHO of which 4g is sugars.
So, you would need to eat approximately 4 Deglet Noor dates to get the equivalent quick release sugar content. As runners, we want to achieve maximum natural sugar content from as little food as possible during a long run so a medjool date is a great choice of quick release carbohydrate.
Another important nutritional property of dates is their soluble fibre content i.e. Beta-D-Glucan fibre. This may be beneficial to runners who suffer from runner’s tummy, as Beta-D-Glucan is known to absorb and retain water as it travels through the GI tract, thus adding bulk and softness to the stool. There may be a need to consider your hydration as a result of the absorption of water by dates.
We have chosen raisins for their natural sugar content for running and a small 30g box contains approx. 23g CHO of which 21g is sugar.
Raisins are an excellent source of Boron, a trace mineral which has an important place in supporting health. For runners, its principle function would be to support bone health, although boron is also known to support immune function, help balance sex hormones and optimise vitamin D metabolism to its active form.
Studies have found that it helps in the regeneration of bone by reducing urinary excretion of calcium and magnesium, both of which are key in the maintenance of bone mineral density. Calcium and Magnesium are linked to bone health, vitamin D would be key here too as boron is needed for the metabolism of vitamin D.
Mango is delicious and like all the other tropical fruits (e.g. pineapple, papaya, banana) it is incredibly sweet.
The Carbohydrate content of fresh mango is 15mg per 100g weight of flesh (so roughly a large slice of mango) of which 14g are sugars. The problem with mango is it is not very transportable for a runner, so possibly dried mango may be more practical. A 42g pouch of dried mango contains roughly 33g of CHO of which 28g are sugars. A word of caution here as many dried mango products contain added sugar so do read the ingredients before you purchase.
Fresh mango is also rich in Vitamin C, which for a runner is important for immune support to help reduce the risk of injury and illness. Vitamin C is also important in the synthesis of collagen so key in bone regeneration (like Boron) and soft tissue maintenance. The dried variety contains much less vitamin C due to the fact that it is a water-soluble vitamin, thus lost in the drying process….so fresh is best from this health point of view.
Generally, bread is an overused as a convenience food, however for a runner, if used strategically it could be beneficial.
Eating bread during a run is not something that most of us probably do…however, if you are an ultra-distance runner eating “real food” on the run (pardon the pun) becomes more important. A sandwich is probably an easy food to carry if the runner does not want to stop to eat (many ultra runners will stop though, especially if the distance is beyond 50 miles).
So, thinking about the type of bread…white bread could be used here as it is in the form of quick release Carbohydrate, plus there is a lack of fibre, which could help minimise digestive distress, which is common amongst ultra runners.
Apart from its energy content, there are NO natural nutritional benefits to eating white bread…although it will generally be fortified with certain nutrients
A recap on the principle nutritional properties of ALL 4 foods for a running DURING TRAINING is their energy content in the form of sugars. In addition…….
1. The principle nutritional property of Medjool dates for a runner that we discussed is Beta-D-Glucan; a soluble fibre that may help reduce the risk of runner’s tummy for some individuals
2. The principle nutritional property of Raisins for a runner that we discussed is Boron, a trace mineral known to support bone regeneration.
3. The principle nutritional property of Mango for a runner that we discussed is Vitamin C, a water-soluble vitamin well known for its immune boosting properties, therefore helping reduce the risk of illness and injury. It is also important in the synthesis of collagen so key in bone regeneration and soft tissue support.
4. The principle nutritional property of Bread, principally white bread, is carbohydrate, it does not naturally contain any other nutritional properties, although it is generally fortified with certain nutrients.
Our Favourite Food and Menu Ideas for these 4 foods
· Medjool dates: dates stuffed with walnuts, dates stuffed with cottage cheese, dates stuffed with cottage cheese and almonds
· Raisins: raisin flapjacks, raisin granola bars, overnight oats with raisins, raisin granola
· Mango: Mango and oat smoothie, Mango and flax smoothie, Mango and chia smoothie
· Bread: banana and honey white sourdough sandwich, chicken and rocket with tomato white bread sandwich, avocado and cottage cheese brown bread sandwich (if tolerated).
A summary of the key nutrients of each food and how they support a runner’s health.
We have principally chosen these foods for their energy content to fuel us during our long runs, however they have additional benefits including:
Medjool dates – the key nutrient we discussed was soluble fibre in the form of Beta-D-Glucan, which could help reduce the risk of runner’s tummy during a run.
Raisins – the key nutrient discussed was Boron, which is known to support bone regeneration
Mango – the nutrient highlighted here was vitamin C, which is known to support the immune system as well as being important for bone and soft tissue health.
Bread– white bread does not naturally contain any nutritional properties as they have been processed out, however most breads are fortified with certain nutrients. The nutrients vary depending on the bread product.
The suggestions we make during this episode are for guidance and
advice only, and are not a substitute for medical advice or treatment.
If you have any concerns regarding your health, please contact
your healthcare professional for advice as soon as possible.
Aileen Smith and Karen Campbell met at as nutrition students (Institute for Optimum Nutrition, London) and became lifelong friends and nutritional buddies! Both have a love of running and a passion for nutrition, delicious food and healthy living.
Together they host RUNNERS HEALTH HUB. A place for like-minded runners who are looking for simple ways to support running performance, energy, endurance, and general great health.
We are excited to be able to share our expertise, experience and short cuts with you. We hope you'll join us again. If you'd like to know more about us and She Runs Eats Performs please check out our TRAILER.
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Aileen and Karen
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