Category Archives: Nutrition

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.

Starting An Elimination Diet

Running has taught me that I do not have a rock solid stomach.

It wasn’t until I had my first DNF (Did Not Finish) almost two years ago that I became aware that I had any digestion issues. In hindsight, I think I’ve had them all along, but was completely naive to it.

And up until last year, I thought my GI distress only occurred when I ran.

Last Spring I noticed feeling discomfort even when I wasn’t running so I started eating a gluten-free diet. Its helped a lot so I still continue it today.

But over the past two months the GI distress has become more frequent and painful. In addition to not eating gluten, for the most part I also avoid dairy, having some degree of lactose intolerance. I used to be able to tolerate dairy occasionally but these days my reaction to it has become more “violent” (for lack of a better word).

I mentioned in my Giant Race 10K race report that I had to take two bathroom breaks during the short 6.2 mile race. This was just one of many frequent episodes, that almost always occur after dining out (at many different types of restaurants).

I’ve been keeping a food journal to pinpoint what could be causing these issues. I’ve been eating lots of natural foods, and trying to avoid processed foods, as this is what almost every resource on healthy eating I’ve read instructs. But I haven’t been able to dial in on a source and the pain and discomfort continues to become more frequent and intense.

Last week I finally went in to see my doctor. I had a lot of data to present to her and she diagnosed me with having Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). From what she told me, it’s a common and pretty general diagnosis. It occurs more frequently with women and often manifests itself as one grows older.

She ordered a series of blood tests (still waiting for the results), referred me to a Gastroenterologist, and instructed me to begin taking probiotics and begin an Elimination Diet.

An Elimination Diet is where I eliminate one foods per week from a list of foods gas-producing foods
that she gave me. When I saw the list of foods I flipped out because its basically everything that I eat on a regular basis. She reminded me that I’m only to eliminate ONE per week, not ALL at once.

To give you an idea, here is a list of the foods:

Artichokes
Apricots
Asparagus
Bananas
Beans of all kinds
Broccoli
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Cucumbers
Eggs
Green Peppers
Lentils
Melons
Onions
Peaches
Pears
Peas
Prunes
Radishes
Raw Apples
Raw Potatoes
Wheat
Wheat Bran

Beer
Carbonated Drinks
Fruit Drinks
Red Wine

Fried, fatty foods
Sugar
Sugar substitutes

Milk and Dairy products

Packaged foods that contain lactose such as breads, cereals and salad dressing

The items that are crossed out are foods that I already don’t eat or try to avoid. The items that are bolded are foods that I eat almost, if not, daily.

I was told to schedule my appointment with the GI doctor in one month so that I would have some data from the Elimination diet to share.

I decided to start my Elimination Diet with eggs because I have a veggie scramble every morning for breakfast (with green peppers and onions) and snack on hard-boiled eggs throughout the day. So I guess while I’m at it, I’ll also be eliminating green peppers and onions too.

It’s all very confusing and disheartening. For the past nine and a half years I’ve made an effort to eat healthy yet now I’m learning that there are healthy foods that can be harmful to my body.

To make things a little more complicated I am also in the midst of marathon training and am trying to find the right balance of what works and doesn’t work for my body, not just on an every day basis but for training as well. It’s all trial and error and can be very stressful in anticipation of the “error” part (especially on long runs).

I’ve read several blogs by women who live with similar challenges (not necessarily runners) but what I’ve learned (also through running) is that no two people are the same. What works for one may not work for another and I need to figure out what works for me.

I’ve always been one who loves to see what happens when trying something new. “What if I did this, how will my body respond? What will the outcome be?” I guess this is another challenge to explore.

Stay tuned.

Back to “School”

The air felt different on this morning’s run, like the seasons are already changing. And the sun didn’t even rise until 6:13 am. So late.

not this morning's sunrise, but what it pretty much looks like every day

not this morning’s sunrise, but what it pretty much looks like every day

Contrary to the title of this post, I am not going back to school. But it is already August, which always puts me in a “back to school” mentality, as in playtime is over, it’s time to get back to work.

I didn’t set any monthly goals in June or July. It felt like summer vacation and it was GREAT! I think we all need periods like that from time-to-time. But now I’m ready to buckle down and get focused again.

So starting today, I’m doing a 31-day Challenge of the following:

1. No refined sugar from August 1st to December 9th

I did so well from January to May, then hot weather came around and I found myself eating lots of cool, sugary summer treats.

After having a Ghirardelli sundae this past Monday…

Ghirardelli sundaes

…I made a pact with my cousin Jenna that it would be the last time I have refined sugar until she comes back from China in December.

Whether I can stick it out for that long remains to be seen (can I really skip pie at Thanksgiving?!) but for now I’m focusing on the next 31 days.

2. Record my diet for all 31-days

I find that for me to maintain a balanced, healthy diet it really helps to keep a food log.

I’ve used several different tools but over the past nine years I’ve had the most success using Calorie King so I’m back to using it again. I’ve sporadically kept a log, often slacking on the weekends when I need it most! So I’m challenging myself to keep a complete log this month.

3. Complete Oprah’s Meditation Challenge

I completed Oprah’s Meditation Challenge in March. It was my first experience with meditation and was such an enjoyable experience. So when I read that she and Deepak Chopra are doing another 21-Day Meditation Challenge, I signed up for it. You should too.

Other goals I am loosely targeting but won’t hold myself accountable if I keep them or not:

+ Yoga 2-3 times per week: recurring goal that I know I won’t keep this week and next because of my swim lessons
+ No Oiselle or Lulu purchases this month: let’s be honest here, this isn’t likely to be kept
+ Finish 2 books: if you only knew how many half read books I have on my Kindle you’d understand this one

Historically August has a really big month for me. This year it will mark my 15th San Francisco-versary, as well as my 6th Blog-iversary.

I’m looking for this year’s August to be no different!