Revisiting Sports Nutrition

One of my goals for this month was to read two books and shockingly, I finished both 10 days before the month's end. After not fueling well at SFM, and dealing with growing GI issues I decided to (re)read Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guide and Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald. I've read both books before but its been about two years and I needed a refresher.

Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook

I first read "Nancy Clark's Food Guide for Marathoners: Tips for Everyday Champions." While it was a good read, I personally got a lot more out of "Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook." I thought it was a more balanced approach as she also discusses fueling for a variety of workouts (which I do).

My goal this time around was to revisit how to properly fuel before and during a workout (specifically a long run) and how to optimally recover from it. For me this meant getting into the math of just how many grams of carbs to ingest before and during a run, etc.

Having recently done a Resting Metabolic Rate test, I already knew what my caloric zones were and what a healthy amount of calories/day for me should be. Using this information I worked through the formulas listed in the book to determine how many carbs, protein and fat I need to properly fuel my body. In the past I've found that I've gone to both extremes of either being under fueled and over fueled. After doing the calculations I then punched these numbers into my online food journal to make it easier to gauge.

{Side note: I compared the nutrients breakdown to the numbers that were provided to me from the study I participated in last Fall. They weren't too far off but these numbers are probably more accurate since they are based on my RMR test.}

As suspected what I found was that I was not fueling my body enough on my longer trainings runs. This is probably why I've felt like death during the last few miles. I also haven't been recovering sufficiently after these long runs.

I now have some ideas of things to experiment with on my upcoming longer runs and will report back on what I find/how I feel.

Racing Weight

I have read several books by Matt Fitzgerald and really liked them all. I try to catch all of his articles that show up the Running channel on Flipboard.

What I like about this particular book is the discussion on the importance of optimal body composition, meaning the distribution of lean mass muscle vs body fat percentage.

Back when I first started working out with Trainer Dave (almost 10 yrs ago!) we recorded my measurements on a regular basis.

August 2003
August 2003

Although my weight hasn't drastically fluctuated, nor I haven't gone up in size, my body fat percentage has increased over the past couple of years. If I can lower it and regain the lean mass I used to have then perhaps I can not only lower my injury risk but also improve my running times and overall health.

August 2005
August 2005

Like the first book, this one also provides charts and formulas to calculate different targets based upon personal goals. I've set my goal to get back to the body composition I had a few years ago when I felt my healthiest.

August 2013
August 2013

One thing that I personally found helpful was the suggestion to breakdown your daily caloric intake. For example, if your target is 2000 cal/day to break it down as follows:

Breakfast: 20-25% Morning Snack: 10% Lunch: 20-25% Afternoon Snack: 10% Dinner: 20-25% Evening Snack: 5%

It may seem like a lot of work, but if you already use an online food journal, once you calculate your targets its very simple to track. As someone who has been obese and continually struggles with portion control, I find this immensely helpful.

It has also been helping me to make wiser choices in the foods that I eat - not just from a "Is this healthy for me?" perspective, but also from a "Is this good for my gut?" perspective, particularly as I'm going through an Elimination Diet process.

Both books also offer a slew of recipes. I've tried some, had to modify a few but the ones that I tried were easy to make and tasted delicious.

If fueling, hydration and nutrition are topics you are interested in, I highly recommend both reads. It doesn't matter if you run long distances or not, its just good knowledge to have on nutrition.