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Sleep is a biological necessity. Don't skimp!


Sleeps is restorative and is needed to align circadian rhythms. Sleep deprivation erodes well being. Speaking at the SCAN Sports Nutrition Conference (Baltimore, April ,2012), Allison Weiss BS reported that Americans are sleeping less than they used to sleep:

--Nearly 30% of adults report sleeping less than 6 hours per day.

--80% of teens report getting less than the recommended nine hours of sleep.

This lack of sleep is having detrimental effects on our health.


Obesity and sleep deprivation are concurrent issues; sleep seems to be a risk factor for obesity. One in four post-menopausal women has problems sleeping; is this linked to mid-life weight gain? When people are tired, grehlin—the hormone that makes us feel hungry—becomes active and we become hungrier and can easily overeat.


Sleep deprivation is also associated with development of Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. People younger than 60 years who sleep less than five hours a night have a higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease.


Athletes who travel through time zones are at high risk for sleep deprivation. This can impact performance by disrupting the circadian rhythms and causing undue fatigue and reduced motivation. Because mental alertness enhances athletic performance, low motivation can be detrimental to performance. On the other hand, extending sleep can enhance performance. A study with basketball players indicates they shot more baskets and completed more free throws when they were well rested (as opposed to sleep deprived).


Make sleep a priority!

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The Boston Marathon is over and we hope that you are proud of your efforts! You have spent many months preparing for this race both physically and mentally; it’s common to come to the end of the race and wonder what’s next. Many runners worry about how to adjust their eating plan. Here is a short guide on adjusting your eating after training.


Assess your weight and define your goals

Before adjusting your eating plan, assess your current weight. Did you lose, gain, or maintain your weight during training? Then, determine if you need to adjust or maintain your post-race weight.


Listen to your body

Your body is very good at adjusting your food intake for training. That is, as you increase your training, you are hungrier and as you decrease your training you feel less hungry. Therefore, within the week after the big race, your appetite should decrease. This is your body telling you to eat less.

Writing down what you eat for 3-5 days can be helpful to see when, where, and how much you are eating. Even better, record how hungry you were before and after you ate. This can help you understand if you are eating enough to prevent hunger, or perhaps you’re just eating out of habit. Food logs will show you where the best places are to cut back, or perhaps identify meals in which you aren’t eating enough.


Eat throughout the day

The best way to manage hunger and maintain energy throughout the day is to fuel your body on a regular schedule. People generally get hungry about every 4 hours, so try to plan meals or snacks at least every four hours.For example, breakfast at 7am, lunch at 11am, 2nd lunch (or snack) at 3p, and dinner at 7p. For some it may work better to break this up into more, smaller meals in 3 hours blocks, so find what works for you.

Not eating enough at breakfast, lunch, or second lunch can lead to overeating at dinner. However, since you’re exercising less than you were during training, your body may be satisfied with smaller portion sizes at each meal. But, don’t skip meals! For example, instead of eating a large bagel with peanut butter, a banana, and a large glass of orange juice at breakfast, morning runners maybe only need 2 pieces of toast with peanut butter, half a banana, and a small glass of orange juice (or just water). Pay attention to when you feel full – your appetite is a good gauge for how much you need to eat. 

If your goal is to lose weight, fuel your body throughout the day and chip off 100-200 calories each evening. You can achieve this by eating a smaller dinner, choosing fruit for dessert instead of ice cream, or choosing to drink water instead of wine or beer. Eat a mix of carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats at each meal. Choose fiber rich carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to keep you feeling fuller, longer. Protein and fat also help slow digestion, adding to a feeling of satiety.


Make an appointment with a registered dietitian

For a more personalized plan, make an appointment with a registered dietitian (RD). An RD can help assess your current weight and diet and provide you with the best eating plan to move forward. Visit the Sports,Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition (SCAN) website to find an RD that specializes in sports nutrition.


How do you plan to adjust your eating plan post-race?

Nancy & Sarah, guest blogger


For more information on how to manage weight:

Food Guide for Marathoners

Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebooks

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The Boston Marathon is one week away! The week leading up to the race can be exciting, yet nerve-wrecking. Tapering, an essential part of training, can be difficult for some runners. Figuring out what and how much to eat adds another challenge.


In the week leading up to the race, you need to build up your glycogen stores so you have as much available energy during the race as possible. This will help you avoid “hitting the wall” and will improve your race performance (and marathon enjoyment).


Building maximum glycogen stores is usually accomplished by training less (AKA the taper), and consuming a foundation of carbohydrate-rich foods at each meal. Aim for 60-65% of your calories to come from carbohydrates. This should include fruits, vegetables, grains (whole grains are preferred), and legumes. The best way to do this is to include carbohydrates at every meal and snack, rather than loading up only at dinner.


Here is a sample carbohydrate-rich menu (Notice it still includes a little protein at each meal.):


Breakfast: 2 pieces whole-wheat toast with 2 tbsp peanut butter & 1 medium banana


Morning snack: Medium apple & 1 serving pretzels (or crackers)


Lunch:Turkey & Swiss cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread with 1-cup minestronesoup


Afternoon snack: 1-cup plain yogurt with 1-cup strawberries and ½ cup low-fat granola


Dinner: 11/2 cups whole-wheat spaghetti with marinara sauce and 2 turkey meatballs, aside salad & small whole-wheat dinner roll.


Evening snack: 1 Orange & 1 oatmeal raisin cookie


Note: Thisis an estimate based on a 2,500-2,600 calorie per day diet. Depending on your gender, body size, and training load, you may need more or less calories throughout the day.


The original “Ahlborg” method of carbo-loading included a depletion phase, in which the marathoner would increase training intensityabout 7 days from the race, while decreasing carbohydrate consumption, thereby depleting glycogen stores. Then, 3 days pre-race, the runner would increase carbohydrate consumption and decrease training to re-fuel. However, research has now shown that this period of depletion is not necessary.


In the week pre-marathon, you want to eat similarly to how you’ve been eating throughout your training. This is not a time to try new foods or new eating patterns. You also don’t need to eat more than you’ve been consuming throughout training because you will be exercising less. Your body will simply store more of the carbohydrates in your muscles (muscle glycogen) instead of burn them off.


It’s common to feel slightly bloated, and even to gain up to 3-4 pounds during the week before the marathon. Don’t worry! Carbohydrates are naturally stored with water. Therefore, as you store carbohydrates, you will add water weight and volume to your muscles.


Lastly, and most importantly, on the night before the marathon, eat what you’ve eaten the night before your long runs. This is not the time to try a new food; you don’t know how your stomach will react the next day.


Best of luck to all of you running the Boston Marathon!


What’s your favorite meal to eat the night before a big race?

Eat well, run hard, have fun. Welcome to Boston!!!


Nancy Clark & Sarah Gold, guest blogger


For more information, enjoy this "how to" easy reader:

Food Guide for Marathoners: Tips for Everyday Champions

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Nancy Clark RD CSSD

Nancy Clark RD CSSD

Member since: Jul 8, 2007

Hi! I specialize in nutrition for exercise, and help active people figure out how to manage food, weight, exercise, energy and enjoyment of eating. Let me know if you have any questions!

View Nancy Clark RD CSSD's profile