Fast Food?!

ragnarA bunch of friends of mine, including my wife, are training for Ragnar.  Ragnar is an epic 24 or more hour race with you and like 11 other people.  It typically follows a format where each person runs 3 legs ranging from 3 to 10 miles running up and down hills, on street or on trail.  You sleep in a van until it is your turn to run again! This type of relay race happens all over the country, so do it. Now back to the nutrition.

One of the runners was really interested in how she should be eating.  She has the training schedule down, but really want to know how one should be eating when training for a race and then what to eat on race day.

According to Sparkpeople:

  • 45% to 65% of calories eaten should come from carbohydrates.
  • 20% to 35% of calories eaten should come from fat.
  • 10% to 35% of calories eaten should come from protein*.

You should be in these ranges.  If these numbers don’t mean anything to you I will try and make them more digestible, see what i did there?

Every athlete needs more Carbs.  A typical athlete should be consuming around the 65% carbs, with 20% protein and 15% fat.

This means if you are on a 2000 Calorie diet 1300 Cal from carbohydrate sources[ 2000 x .65]; 400 Cal from Protein sources [2000x.20] and 300 from fat sources[2000x.15].  The great part is you can eat pretty much anything you want.  You just have to pay attention to the label or use a resource like, which will break down everything you ever wanted to know about the food you are eating.

Clif builderI had a Clif builder bar for breakfast today and it has 20g of protein.  20g x 4Cals/g = 80 Cals from protein.  It has 8g or (8g x 9Cal/g) 72 Cals from fat and 124 Cals or 31g of Carbohydrates (31g  x 4Cal/g).  So you can see if you wanted to make a meal plan you would have to do this for everything you eat.  It is time consuming, but worth it! I wanted to do this in percent too, so you see you have to take all the food you are eating and break it down.  Protein 30% (80/270) Fat 26% (72/270) and Carbs 45% (124/270). As you can see from this example, if I were training for a run which I am not, I would need to adjust the rest of today’s meal plan to balance out the percentages of this meal. ( I also don’t recommend a nutrition bar for breakfast it just happened to be what i had, again I am not training for anything).

I would also recommend a 5 meal plan.  This means you eat 5 meals a day instead of the typical 3.  You will surprise yourself at how much food you will be eating throughout the day and losing weight.  Please be careful when dieting and training.  Many of the “fad” diets such as South Beach, Atkins, Paleo etc. . . all have a high protein load concept, even a diabetic diet (which I highly recommend for people who would like to lose weight) has a high protein intake component.  This is NOT good when training.  Your body needs Carbs and lots of them.  Our bodies DO NOT want to break down protein as an energy source, so don’t make them your source of fuel.

Before any race you want to push for a higher carbohydrate range at minimum 60% of your total Caloric intake.  You could even go up to 80% depending on if you are doing an endurance type race, 1/2 marathon, triathlon, full marathon etc.  If you are doing a 5 to 10K I would stick around the 60%.  Some people refer to this as Carb loading, but Carb loading is a process, if done correctly, and from what I remember it doesn’t really help all that much for the casual runner.

Try to avoid eating a big meal at least 4 hours prior to the run.  Most runs occur at 7 am, so that shouldn’t be an issue.  You do need to fuel your body so eat a banana, the rumor is this has “clogging” power, if you know what I am saying.  Once you are done running or in the case of the Ragnar event, between each or your legs of the race, you want to eat something with protein in it, typically try and do this within the hour of completion.  This is when you could/should drink a glass of milk, if that is your thing.  You can eat a protein bar, but WATCH THE CALORIES!

If you are going to eat a protein bar or shake make sure that is calculated into your total caloric intake for the day.  Too often people who are trying to lose weight diet really well, exercise then drink the 400 calorie shake, which was 50 calories higher than the activity they did.  They gain weight (not muscle).  It is all about Calories in and Calories out, so include that protein shake in with your total meal plan.

There are things you do want to avoid prior to the race. Spicy foods, milk products, high fat items, high fiber items and anything you may potentially have a reaction too.  You don’t want to have an upset stomach.  You also don’t really want your food to pass too quickly through your body.  You may or may not be familiar with the term “Runners Runs.”  I will let you figure that one out.

So when it comes to training and eating you can eat pretty much anything you want.  You just need to make sure the total fits with in the guide lines listed above.  If you would like something more specific, like an actual broken down meal plan I can do that too, just leave a message below and i will send you one!


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