For athletes, Thanksgiving is a super day to take a day off from exercise, relax with family and friends, and to carbo-load. Your muscles will benefit from having time to refuel, recover, and heal. As we all know, rest is a very important part of a training schedule.
The traditional Thanksgiving dinner offers the perfect combination of sports foods: abundant carbs (to fuel the muscles) and protein (to build and repair the muscles). The goal is consume three times more carbs than protein. Here is the line-up:
Carbs; mashed potato sweet potato stuffing squash turnip peas cranberry sauce stuffing apple pie pumpkin pie
By fueling well on Thanksgiving, your muscles will be ready to exercise hard on Friday. And when your workout is over and you are ready to refuel, why not enjoy a turkey sandwich with stuffing and cranberry sauce, some fruit from the cornucopia, and leftover apple pie. Yum!
With best wishes for a pleasant time with family and friends,
Nancy, here’s a question for you. Should my calorie intake fluctuate based on how much training I'm doing? I usually do between 90 and 120 minutes a day, but sometimes I might do just a 45-minute workout. Do I cut my calorie count proportionally?
On days when you are doing less exercise you will likely want to eat just as much (or almost as much) because—
1) Your muscles are using any extra unburned calories to refuel your depleted glycogen stores from the previous days’ tiring workouts, and
2) You may be more active during the rest of your "light exercise" days. That is, observe if on your light days or rest days you decide to mow the lawn, vacuum the house, wash your car, and do lots of errands. That extra activity counts!
Your best bet is to listen to your body; it is your best calorie counter. If you are thinking about food and fighting the urge to eat, your body is saying it needs more fuel. When you eat something to resolve that hunger, observe if you--
--stop obsessing about food, and
--have interest in doing something other than fight off urges to eat.
I generally eat just as much on rest days. Sometimes by dinner I am not as hungry, so I eat a lighter dinner just because I don't want a heavy meal. I listen to my body and trust it can regulate an appropriate food intake. Perhaps you can experiment and observe ithat your body can also naturally regulate a proper intake? (It that seems too hard, you might want to meet with a sports dietitian who can help you eat intuitively. Use the referral network at www.SCANdpg.org.)
Looking for some comfort food to take the edge off of a tiring day? This recipe from the new fifth edition of my Sports Nutrition Guidebook will give you a “food hug” within the boundries of a healthy meal. Enjoy!
Light-yet-lively Mac & Cheese
I’ve lightened up his family favorite meal by adding diced cauliflower. No one will notice the difference, especially if you use small shells for the pasta. The cauliflower hides inside the shell.
Becausethis recipe includes chopping and grating, invite a friend or family member to help you cook. While you make the sauce, someone can grate the cheese, and another person can dice the cauliflower. The final result is a meal made with love.
If you don’t have time to bake the Mac & Cheese, skip those instructions. It tastes good right off the stove top!
2 cups (about half a box) of uncooked small pasta, such as small elbows or small shells
2 cups finely diced cauliflower
2 cups milk
3 tablespoons flour
¼ tsp dry mustard
¼ tsp garlic powder
salt, pepper to taste
5 ounces shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
Optional: 2 tablespoons lowfat cream cheese
1.Fill a pasta pot with water and to a boil. While the water is heating, dice the cauliflower into small pieces.
2.Add the pasta to the boiling water, cook for about five minutes, and then add the diced cauliflower. Drain when the pasta and cauliflower are tender, in about 4 or 5 minutes.
3. In a large saucepan, wisk together the flour and milk, place over medium-high heatand bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
4.Add the mustard, garlic powder, cayenne, (lowfat cream cheese), salt and pepper; mix well.
5.Add the grated cheddar cheese, stirring until melted.
6.Add the pasta and cauliflower.
7.Enjoy eating it as is, or pour the mixture into an 8 x 8 baking pan that has been treated with cooking spray and bake for 20 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly.
Nancy, I can’t believe you recommend chocolate milk as a good recovery food for athletes after a hard workout. It’s filled with refined sugar!!!!
My response: Yes, chocolate milk (or any flavored milk, for that matter) contains added sugar. For hard-working athletes, sugar is a form of carbohydrate that refuels depleted muscles and feeds the brain. Like the sugar in bananas and oranges, the sugar in chocolate milk comes alongwith a plethora of nutritional benefits. That makes chocolate milk a better option that chugging a sports drink that offers just empty calories.
A reasonable guideline for an athlete is to limit refined sugar intake to no more than 10% of daily calories. That equates to about 200 to 300 calories a day. The sweaty, tired athlete who recovers with a quart of Gatorade consumes 200 calories of refined sugar— and misses out on positive nutritional benefits that could have been provided by chocolate milk.
Despite chocolate milk's sugar content, the beverage remains nutrient-dense. When athletes refuel with chocolate milk, they get not just sugar that fuels their muscles, but also:
--high quality protein that builds and repairs muscles
--calcium that strengthens bones
--vitamin D that enhances calcium absorption
--sodium that helps with fluid retention and replaces sodium lost in sweat
--potassium that replaces sweat losses and helps maintain lowblood pressure
--B-vitamins such as riboflavin, that help convert food into energy
--water that replaces fluid lost with sweat
--a desirable balance of carbohydrate and protein. (The muscles recover will with three times more carbs than protein.)
I invite you to pay more attention to the nutritional value of the whole beverage rather than just the added sugar. Chocolate milk offers far more nutrients than the sports drinks that athletes commonly chug after a hard workout. Those sports drinks, as well as other commercial “sports foods” (gels, chomps, sports beans, sports candies), receive little public criticism yet are generally 100% refined sugar with minimal, if any, nutritional benefits. In my opinion, those engineered sports foods are the bigger nutritional concern than the 40 to 50 calories of sugar added to 8-ounces of chocolate milk.
PS. Yes, a "perfect diet" would have no refined sugar .. but who said an athlete needs to eat a perfect diet to have a good diet?
This event is specifically for women runners over 40. My talk takes place Monday Nov 18 from 12-1:00 EST; see the list below of others speakers on other days. This is a free opportunity to get running advice from renowned experts so you can discover how to:
Deal effectively with the particular challenges that women runners face in their 40s,50s, 60s and 70s.
Prevent and treat injuries so you can avoid frustrating layoffs that derail your progress
Practice optimal nutrition for performance and maintaining your ideal weight
Train more efficiently and effectively so that you can improve your running without spending extra precious time
“Run Faster, Further andInjury-Free for Years to Come”
Free Women’s RunningTelesummit
Monday, November 18, 2013 – Thursday, November 21,2013
What an incredible roster of experts. Benefit from the knowledge and experience of:
• Kathrine Switzer
as we discuss many areas of vital importance to woman runners over 40 so that you can run faster, furtherand injury-free.
When you are exercising for more than 60-90 minutes, you want to consume quickly absorbed carbohydrates to keep your blood sugar and energy levels stable throughout your run. Many marathoners are confused about what to eat during long runs. The following tips can help you fuel wisely and avoid from hitting the wall. (Remember that it’s important to experiment with fueling during long training runs to avoid any race-day surprises!)
-- How can you tell when you should eat during long runs? Pay attention to your body’s requests for fuel: mood-change, thoughts about food, reduced energy, tired legs, slower running…
--The amount of carbohydrates needed will vary from person to person (body size, speed, intensity, and training will all effect this), but aim for between 150-300 calories of carbohydrates per hour. This can be from a mix of sports drinks like Gatorade to foods like Gu, candy, or dried fruit.
--Most runners start consuming carbohydrates (sports drink) beginning at 45 minutes to an hour into the race. Breakfast fuels the start of the run.
--If you are a slow runner, vary your food choices to reduce "flavor fatigue" for 4+ hours. It’s easy to get through a half marathon relying only on gels, but it’s difficult to keep that up for twice the time. You’re likely to get “sugared out,” meaning your taste buds or stomach may not tolerate the same food for that many hours. Experiment with a few different options during longer training runs to see what your stomach and GI tract tolerate and what gives your body the most energy.
--Convenience is the big advantage to engineered sports foods such as Gu, Chomps, Sport Beans, and the like. Most come in pre-packaged 100-calorie servings, and they are easy to carry with you. However, real food can work just as well, particularly for slower marathoners who will be pounding the pavement for more than four hours.
Here are some common choices among runners:
- Raisins,dates, dried cranberries—or any dried fruit
- Swedish fish, jelly beans, gummy bears, or other chewy candy
- Pretzels, fig cookies
- Dried cereal
- Mini peanut butter and jelly (or honey) sandwiches*
- *If you prefer snacks that aren’t convenient to carry in your pocket, ask friends or family to stand along your race-day route at points when you know you will need fuel.
--Gatorade or other sports drinks contribute to your carbohydrate intake. Just pay attention to how much you are consuming so you can adjust your food intake. Diluted fruit juice can work well for some too.
Marathon excitement is in the air! If you are one of the nervous runners, here’s a basic nutrition tip to help you prepare for the 26.2-mile event:
Carbo-load, don't fat-load!
To their dismay, many runners confuse high fat foods and high carb foods. They fat load. Fat does not get stored in your muscles as glycogen (the fuel needed to prevent you from “hitting the wall”). Only carbs get stored in your muscles as glycogen.
Carbohydrate-rich foods include:
Hot and cold cereals
Fruits- bananas, grapes, raisins, and all fresh and dried fruits and juices
Breads, bagels, crackers – whole grain, so you don’t get constipated
Rice, noodles, stuffing
Pasta with tomato sauce (not cheese sauces)
Quinoa, lentils, beans – but be careful of getting too much fiber…
Baked or boiled (sweet) potatoes (without lots of butter)
Vegetables, particularly carrots, peas, beets, corn, and winter squash
Lower carbohydrate, high fat choices that may taste great,fill your stomach but leave your muscles unfueled include: