Commercial sports candies are nothing but pure sugar. If you prefer an “all natural” alternative, think about dates. Yes, those bite-sized brown fruits that appear in holiday date-nut breads are actually great fuel for during endurance exercise! During hikes, winter snowshoe treks, bike rides, and even long runs, snacking on dates provides a highly nutritious source of carbs for fuel, while providing your body with wholesome goodness. Dates are a very rich source of anti-oxidants and bioactive compounds that help fight inflammation. They also offer potassium, calcium, magnesium, and many other vitmains and minerals.
If you choose Medjool dates (a specific variety of dates), they have a creamy texture that is not too dry. The moistness can translate into“sticky fingers”; to avoid that inconvenience, simply shake some raw oatmeal (or blenderized oats, made into oat flour) into the baggie in which you carry the dates. Solves the problem!
In general, when choosing fruits, you want to think about eating a variety of colors. (You know, red apples, blue berries, orange oranges, etc.) Each color offers different bioactive compounds. Dates fulfill the “brown” color. Give ‘em a try! Diced dates are yummy on cereal, in salads, as a part of trail mix, and combined with peanut butter for pop-in-your-mouth bliss.
Disclosure: I recently attended a yummy dinner sponsored by Medjool Date growers. (www.medjooldates.com).They didn’t have to work hard to convince me these are great sports foods. I’d just made some date-nut bread earlier that day!
Do runners and body builders need the same amount of protein?
Yes—when you calculate protein needs based on body weight. A more-than-adequate intake for both types of athletes is about 0.75 grams protein per pound body weight (1.5 grams protein per kilogram). While this need will be slightly higher if the athlete is restricting calories or in a growth spurt, 1 gram protein per pound (2.0 g pro/kg) is the maximum needed per day.
Let’s do some math:
140 pound runner = 106 g protein per day
240 pound body builder – 180 grams protein per day
Either of these amounts of protein is easily obtained by enjoying a protein-rich food with each meal. Here are three easy ways to meet your protein needs:
Cottage cheese, 1 cup 30 g
Tuna, 6-ounce can 35-40 g protein
Chicken breast, 6 ounces 50 g
Because a 240-pound body builder can easily devour a 16-ounce (two cup) tub of cottage cheese, a few cans of tuna (for a mere snack), and two chicken breasts, he’ll match his protein requirements without needing supplements.
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