Top 10 Nutrition Myths & Facts You Need To Know For Marathon Training!
By Fresh Thyme Farmers Market Registered Dietitian Kerry Clifford, MS, RD, LDN
When it comes to exercise, carbohydrates are the least important macronutrient compared to protein and fat.
FALSE. Exercise performance is directly impacted by the food you eat. Carbohydrates are the best source of energy for your muscles and brain. Science 101: Foods convert to glucose in the body, which is used for glycogen in muscles, which is your energy for your long runs. However, not all carbohydrates are created equal. Consider incorporating quality carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, bananas, oatmeal, quinoa, spaghetti squash and even fruit everyday. According to the NCAA, a very general recommendation for carbohydrate intake per day for athletes may range from 5-7 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight per day (1 pound equals 2.2 kilograms). Individual recommendations can be made by a Registered Dietitian.
Fat is really important to have right after a workout.
FALSE. Fat is slowly digested and is not a fast fuel for endurance exercise. Protein and carbohydrates work together right after a workout to replenish your stores and refuel you for the next day’s workout. Fat is crucial for you to absorb vitamins and reduce the inflammation caused by exercise. That said, including sources like avocado, salmon, tuna, nuts and seeds throughout the day is crucial for a healthy training plan. Also, avoid fatty foods within an hour of a workout, it’s slow to digest and may upset your stomach.
Protein is important at every meal, but should not take over my plate.
TRUE. Most Americans get enough protein, but the quality and timing are off. Protein repairs and strengthens muscle tissue, maintains lean muscle mass and also makes enzymes, hormones and neurotransmitters. More is not necessarily better. Muscle growth happens when diet and exercise are combined, not just diet. A very basic estimate of protein grams per day could be about 1.2 to 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight - think your weight divide by 2.2. Spread this out throughout the day at your meals and snacks.
Think food first, supplement second.
TRUE. Being that the supplement industry is not regulated the same way as food labeling, there are tons of products with false claims. That said, Fresh Thyme carries very high-quality supplements with quality ingredients that are made from whole, natural foods and not synthetic ingredients. Here are some supplements you may want to consider:
A protein powder that has ~30 grams per serving
Collagen can be a great addition to coffee, promoting the whole animal approach, and is good for joints, bones, hair, skin and nails
Vitamin D in the winter or if you work all day inside
Probiotic to keep your digestion healthy
Fish oil in case you don’t get enough fish!
Always ask your personal Physician before starting any new supplement regimen.
If I'm exercising, calories aren’t as important.
FALSE. It is true you are burning more calories and probably have more flexibility in your calorie needs, but a focus on QUALITY calories is key. Incorporating vegetables and fruits for at least 5 total servings per day is key.
I need to detox to start on my health journey.
FALSE. As a Dietitian, I can tell you, your body serves as your natural detox system. Your liver is one of your largest internal organs and has over 500 jobs, including breaking down all food, alcohol and toxins! A cool fact: Muscle synthesis (the creation of muscle) and alcohol do not mix, as your liver prioritizes breaking down alcohol (a toxin) before building up any muscle! If you are looking to get stronger during training season and looking to cut something out, consider cutting out alcohol! Since over 70 percent of your body’s immune system is located in your digestive tract and you have nearly a tennis court’s worth of surface area for food and nutrients to enter your body, getting adequate fiber content will help your body naturally detox (and prevent the bloat by keeping things regular!). Additionally, keeping your body’s balance of sodium and potassium is important to keep those kidneys filtering out any toxins (they filter half a cup of blood every minute!).
I don’t need to worry about milk.
FALSE: The pounding on the pavement is a lot of work for those bones, and a lot of factors play in, but giving your body adequate calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin K2 and magnesium are key for bone health. You may consider opting for 2% or whole milk as the fat can provide additional calories and perhaps help absorb more nutrients. One 8oz cup includes: protein, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin B12, Riboflavin, pantothenic Acid, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Niacin. Alternative milks have exploded, and the milk cooler has expanded at Fresh Thyme! I love coconut milk for my coffee, and many of us might just not want to drink a glass of milk. Almond, coconut and flax milk- have many vitamins and minerals found in fortified milk, but it’s not a good protein source! These alternative milks can serve as a flavoring or addition to coffee, but watch out for the ones with added sugars. Soy milk is packed with protein and essential vitamins and minerals in case you can’t handle dairy! There are lactose-free options like Fairlife, with double the protein, and is a great option for a post-workout drink. Consider talking to a Registered Dietitian about a supplement if you feel like this is a group you are skipping.
Coffee can help me have a better workout.
TRUE. Coffee, and caffeine in general, can have both positive and negative effects on a workout. Many studies demonstrate the positive impact of a slight caffeine intake on athletic performance. Since caffeine stimulates the nervous system, 200-300 mg of caffeine is acceptable before exercise. If you are used to drinking coffee, the impact may include improved athletic performance, sustained energy, improved coordination, lower feelings of exertion and possibly lower levels of fatigue. One regular cup of coffee has about 80-100 mg of caffeine. Caffeine is considered a banned substance by the NCAA and typically ingesting over 500 mg of caffeine (6 cups of coffee) is banned. Coffee also has an impact on the digestive tract and helps things move through the digestive tract, making distance running and endurance activities much easier. High consumption of caffeine (or for those not used to it) may cause nausea, GI upset, shaking and interfere with sleep and training. Also, considering what is added to the coffee could have an impact too. Milk products may cause upset stomach before exercise, so consider a black cup of coffee if you do want caffeine. Caffeine intake may cause you to urinate more often, so drinking extra water to combat the effects will make sure you have a good workout! Be wary of caffeine pills as they are not as regulated and may cause various effects.
Our bodies are at least 60% water.
TRUE. Did you know that all the systems in the body need water? It shuttles nutrients to your cells, flushes out toxins, helps with digestion and supports brain function. Sometimes the key to health could start at just drinking more water. Sparkling water is a great option to mix up what you are doing now, or adding fruit and herbs for more flavor. Tea without anything added is another great way to hydrate.
Fasting might help me lose weight.
FALSE. Our bodies like consistency when it comes to nutrition, especially if you are doing intensive exercise. Often times, people eat a small breakfast and a larger dinner and post dinner. However, mindfulness when it comes to feelings of hunger is the best recommendation. Since everyone is different, I always recommend listening to your body. If you’re not hungry for that extra snack, don’t have it. Studies looking at shift workers who have less distinct meal patterns and timing, demonstrate meal timing with changes in weight, reductions in insulin sensitivity, and lessened glucose tolerance. Studies also show eating a protein packed breakfast in the morning can help with hunger regulation throughout the entire day. There are several other factors, including meal composition, activity level, sleep patterns, and health conditions. For example, people who have Diabetes may need to eat more often to balance their blood sugar or people training for a marathon may need to eat more often to get in enough calories. It’s also recommended for young kids to eat more often because they have smaller stomachs. There have been more recent studies that demonstrate fasting for a period of about 10 hours may be beneficial for weight management. Since everyone is different, I recommend trialing different amounts of meals and snacks along with listening to your body to see what’s best for you. Working with a Registered Dietitian can also help get you on the right plan.
Fueling the Extra Mile. Proper Nutrition for Endurance Athletes. SCAN and NCAA 2013.