Too many people who exercise purposefully do not eat before they exercise. They think they should exercise on empty, to prevent intestinal distress. While this may be OK for a short bout of exercise, when they build up to an hour of more of exercise, they start to run out of energy. Thye experience needless fatigue.
Research indicates consuming 100 to 300 calories (depending on your body size and how hard you will be exercising) within the hour before you exercise can improve performance -- to say nothing of enjoyment of the the session. Hence, if you have been avoiding food out of fear of "rapid transit", you should start to train your intestinal track to lean how to digest food while you exercise. This is important if you plan to workout for more than an hour. Start with a saltine, apretsel, a bite of banana, and work up to two saltines, two pretzels, two bites of banana ... With time, your intestinal track will adjust to digesting food while you exercise, and you'll have better, stronger, more enjoyable workouts.
Training your intestinal track as well as your heart, lungs and muscles is important if you plan to do workouts that last longer than one hour!
“Oh, I didn’t know I could eat candy or regular food” commented the novice marathoner. She was training for her first 26.2 mile event, and was barely able to complete the first 10 miles. She was afraid to eat before she trained, fearing the food would talk back to her. No wonder she was running out of energy! She needed to fuel her body better. This would mean training her intestinal tract to tolerate food and fluids.
During the runs, she drank just water because the one time she had tried a gel, it upset her intestinal tract. I asked if she had tried gummy bears, hard candies, twizzlers, or peppermint patties. She hadn’t even thought about those options. She had limited herself to the engineered sports foods that she’d seen advertised abundantly in running magazines. I invited her to experiment with standard foods to which her body was accustomed. She started with small nibbles pre-run – a saltine cracker, a pretzel, a chunk of banana. She then added bigger portions as her body got used to the pre-run fuel.
During her long runs, when she began to run out of energy, I suggested she try some sugary candy. Starbursts became her favorite way to consume the energy she needed to enjoy miles of training. By targeting about 200 calories per hour (after the first hour of running), she was able to maintain high energy during the long runs. She experimented with lots of food options, and found that she better enjoyed standard foods than the engineered products.
Here’s your chance to learn from two internationally known experts at this intensive workshop on Nutrition & Exercise. Sports nutritionist Nancy Clark MS, RD, CSSD and exercise physiologist William Evans PhD will be offering a 1.5 day program that is designed to help coaches, athletic trainers, exercise physiologists, sports nutritionists, sports medicine professionals as well as athletes themselves find answers to their questions about--
-eating for health, enhanced performance and longevity
-balancing carbs, protein and sports supplements
-managing weight and eating disorders.
CHICAGO August 22-23, 2008
INDIANAPOLIS Sept 5-6
DETROIT Sept 19-20
COLUMBUS Nov 14-15
MINNEAPOLIS Dec 5-6
DALLAS Jan 16-17, 2009
St. LOUIS Jan 23-24
HOUSTON Feb 6-7
If you cannot attend in person, the workshop can come to you. Simply enjoy the course online!
If you want to lose undesired body fat, keeping food records is a good place to start. A new study reported in the August issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reports that among 1,685 dieters, those who kept food records at least 6 days a week lost twice the weight of those who didn’t keep food records. (18 vs. 9 pounds).
Unfortunately, most of my clients hate to keep food records. Or, they keep them on “good days” but not on the days they overeat. Sound familiar?
Writing down what you eat takes energy. If you have the energy to eat well, you likely have the energy to write it down. On the flip side, if life is draining your energy, you feel stressed, and are eating poorly, you likely lack the energy needed to record what you consumed (nor do you want to face the facts). Yet, if you were to make yourself accountable on the “bad days,” you would likely eat less, and might even learn from the experience.
For example, you might learn that eating 10 Oreos did not solve any of your problems, rather just made you feel worse. The next time you feel tempted to smother your stress with cookies, you might think twice and ask yourself: “How many of these Oreo’s will solve my problems?” The answer, of course, is none. And the threat of having to record 10 Oreos might deter you from indulging. Give it a try?
“I’d rather be skinny than at peace with food” she snapped back at me, after I suggested her new weight might be more appropriate given her genetics. “I used to weigh 105 pounds, and I cannot stand being 115.” But 105 pounds was when she was spending four hours a day exercising and being “too busy” to eat.
If you are at war with your body, and “cannot stand” your body fatness, I suggest you check out the following article reprinted with permission from Nourishing Connections(www.nourishingconnections.com) a website for people who struggle with food and weight.
"To be nobody but yourself—in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else—means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting." ~E.E. Cummings
Reflections for Staying Attuned
Body hatred is a learned behavior. Have you ever met a baby who hated her body? Somewhere along the way, we learn to dislike, and even hate, our bodies. How did we learn this? To answer that question, let's consider:
• who teaches us to scrutinize our bodies?
• who teaches us to be critical of ourselves?
• who teaches us not to like our bodies?
• who teaches us not to like ourselves?
Start by taking a concerted look at the advertising world. It will become startlingly clear that advertisers want women to feel dissatisfied with themselves; the message is right there in the ad. But—lucky us—the advertisers’ products have the answer to the very dissatisfaction they are promoting.
Now consider prejudice. A woman who hates her body and is constantly concerned about food and weight will rarely break the glass ceiling. There is a great deal of theory about downtrodden groups, like women, and how the oppression they suffer becomes internalized. "Internalized oppression" occurs when people are targeted or oppressed over a period of time. They eventually internalize the myths and misinformation that society communicates to them about their group. For example, women frequently internalize the stereotype that they are not attractive (or smart, productive, happy) unless they are thin. This learned belief causes many women to regularly engage in what is a universally feared experience, living with hunger.
While learning body hatred from many different sources, we absorb and adapt to the rules of what is acceptable. When we begin to break free of body hatred, we are breaking the rules. Consider if a woman said, "Yeah, I'm pretty okay with my body." Many would eye her suspiciously. Why? Because she dares to break some very powerful rules!
Since body hatred is a learned behavior, it can be unlearned. Not easy to do, but worth the effort. Dare to break the rules. Decide to re-learn to like yourself inside and out. Reconnect with the body acceptance with which you were born.
Stay Attuned Tip
One woman, who typically made disparaging comments whenever she saw her reflection, made a commitment to herself to never pass by a reflection without saying, "Hello there, you Gorgeous Goddess." Sometimes she would pass by and try to ignore the reflection, but because of her commitment to herself she would turn around, take a peek, and say, "Hello there, you Gorgeous Goddess." This simple exercise was enough to change her perception of herself. She even began to carry herself differently. The change was dramatic (but not surprising, since neuroscience studies support this result of shifting from negative self-talk to positive self-talk).
So, just for today, whenever you see your reflection, say something powerfully positive to yourself. Take a minute right now to decide what that will be. Some examples are:
• “Wow, what a wonderfully powerful woman!”
• “Hey, bright and beautiful you!”
• “Those women at Nourishing Connections must be crazy, but I’ll give it a try—’Hello there sweet and wonderful person!’ ”
Stay Attuned Affirmation : "I am the exquisite woman in the window. "
Many of my clients report they are "always hungry", as if hunger is a personality quirk. Hunger is simply a request for fuel. If you are hungry all the time, you likely are eating too little food during the day (only to overindulge at night).
Think about hunger this way: If you were taking care of a little baby, and the baby was crying because it was hungry, not feeding that child would be called child abuse. Not feeding your own body when it is hungry is being abusive to yourself. Don't do that!!!
Even if you want to lose body fat, you can lose weight without being ravenously hungry. Just eat 100 calories less at the end of the day, and that will theoretically contribute to 10 pounds of fat loss a year. Two hundred calories less at the end of the day, 20 lbs of fat loss. Chip away at weight loss, rather than living hungry (no fun, and not sustainable).
Nancy Clark MS RD
For more information on how to find the right balance of food so you can feel content without getting fat, take a look at chapters 15 and 16 in my Sports Nutrition Guidebook. You'll learn how to lose weight without starving yourself!
“I call this the meno-pot” my 49 year old client remarked as she grabbed the flesh around her abdomen. “And I don’t like it! I dread the thought of gaining more and more weight.” She believed she was destined to get fat with aging. Not the case.
The truth is, menopause is not a sentence to gain undesired body fat. Factors other than hormones come into play. "Midlife" is more to blame than menopause. Midlife changes in physical activity, poor sleep due to hot flashes, a sedentary workstyle name just a few. Some keys to minimizing the meno-pot are to make a priority of getting adequate sleep, staying active, and learning how to eat appropriate portions of food.
Not gaining weight during midlife is much easier than losing it... Think twice before you eat and ask "Does my body really need this fuel?"
My Sports Nutrition Guidebook has a strong section on how to lose weight and maintain energy to exercise--as well as how to manage the meno-pot.
Seems like July is a month filled with summer parties. Several of my clients are now fretting about BBQs, beer, ice cream cones, and other such treats. They are afraid they will overeat these goodies and gain weight.
If weight is an issue for you, remember that you can go to a party to enjoy the PEOPLE and not just the food. Too often, weight-conscious athletes pay too much attention to the food at the party, and fail to enjoy their friends.
Here are three tips for surviving social events that abound with tempting food:
1. Don’t arrive at the party feeling hungry. When you feel hungry, you are more likely to treat yourself to goodies “because you saved up calories.” My bet is, if you arrive hungry, you’ll not only eat—but you’ll overeat far more calories than you saved!
2. Eat a diet portion of whatever you want. The first three mouthfuls taste the best; savor those and don't feel the need to eat "the whole thing" just because it is there. Be aware of “last chance eating” (you know, last chance to eat cookies, so I’d better eat another one…”). Take that second cookie home and enjoy it the next day, when your body is ready for some fuel.
3. Socialize away from the food. That is, don’t stand near the picnic table; find someplace where food is out of reach.
These tips work for any social event. Just remember to have fun enjoying the people, and put food at the bottom of the priority list.
The hot weather has (finally) come to Boston and most endurance athletes aren’t use to it yet. Here are a few tips for managing the heat.
--Be sure to not only drink enough fluids during exercise but also add a little sodium to your pre-exercise stint in the heat if you plan to be outside for a a few hours. The sodium helps retain the fluids in your body (as opposed to have plain water go in one end and out the other). This can help delay dehydration and enhance your endurance.
While on a daily basis you might want to minimize your sodium intake, a little extra salt before hot weather exercise can be a wise choice.Some possible choices are chicken noodle soup (or any canned brothy soup), V-8 juice, salted pretzels, baked chips, olives, pickles, ham and cheese sandwich with mustard – or any salted/salty food, before you go. This might be a change in eating habits for health-conscious endurance athletes who cook their oatmeal without salt, rarely eat canned or processed foods, and have no salt shaker on the dinner table.
You might lose 500 to 800+ mg sodium per pound of sweat. (Weigh yourself pre and post exercise to figure our how many pounds of sweat you lose in an hour.) While you need not get obsessed about replacing sodium milligram for milligram, reading food labels can give you a frame of reference regarding how much you replace with your food choices. For example--
A can of chicken noodle soup offers 2,350 mg sodium
A quart of Gatorade offers 440 mg sodium
Eight ounces of orange juice has only 5 mg
Generally, if you crave salt, you should eat salt.
All too often, clients come to me whining they have failed to lose weight, even though they have stopped eating "junk foods." Now, they are eating only "healthy foods." They thought hamburgers, fries, and ice cream were making them fat, so they deleted those foods and replaced them with salads (with lots of dressing), trail mix, and protein shakes. Make that, lots of salad, bags of trail mix, and super-sized protein shakes. Little do they realize, excess calories from "healthy foods" can be just as fattening as calories from "junk foods."
If you want to trim some undesired body fat, your best bet is, indeed, to knock off the excess calories of soft drinks, fried foods, and sweets. Theoretically, eating just 100 fewer calories at the end of the day can contribute to loss of 10 pounds of fat per year. But be sure to count the calories in "healthy foods." .... they can contribute to fat-gain, too. You can gain weight by eating too much fruit, just as you can gain weight by eating too many cookies.
Try to enjoy a food plan that is 85-90% "healthy" foods and 10-15% "whatever". Some days "whatever" might be berries; other days, "whatever" might be blueberry pie. Enjoy the balance.
For more information on how to choose a balanced sports diet that will support your goals:
The American College of Sports Medicine is not the typical college (with a campus and buildings and students) -- but rather an orgaization that brings together health professionals (sports medicine doctors, sports nutritionists, physical therapists) and exercise scientists and researchers. Every year, they have an annual meeting. This year, it is in Indianapolis and I am leaving tomorrow for the week. This is one of my favorite meetings because this is where I learn the latest sports nutrition information. The researchers will be presenting the studies they completed in the past year. I'll look forward to sharing with you what I learn. If you want more information about ACSM, take a look at their website: www.acsm.org.
When I counsel either casual exercisers or competitive athletes, I ask them what they typically eat in a day. I then do a more thorough food intake, gathering details of all that they eat, More often then not, they “try to stay away from” bagels, crackers, pasta, juice, bananas, and other “carbs.” I ask them “Why?” With embarrassment, they mumble, “Because they’re fattening.” The athletes know in their intelligent minds this is not true, but somehow they have fallen victim to fad diets.
If you are among those who “try to stay away from carbs”, think again. Remember that carbs are NOT fattening (excess calories are fattening) and that carbs (such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables) should be the foundation of each meal because they fuel your workouts. I invite you to enjoy whole grain bagels, sandwiches, and pasta – and also enjoy higher energy during your workouts.
Do you really want to never enjoy potato or pasta again.....???
For more information about carbs/weight, please read the chapter on how to lose weight and have energy to exercise in my Sports Nutrition Guidebook (www.nancyclarkrd.com).
Yesterday I received a phone call from a writer for Backpacker magazine. He talked about “dieters’ hikes” (sort of like “fat camps”) for people who want to lose undesired body fat. He participated in one of the hikes, and said he lost weight — that is, until he returned to civilization and immediately stuffed himself with an over-sized Mexican dinner.
While he raved about the dieters’ hike, I reminded him losing weight is just part of the process. Dieters have to keep the weight off—and that means learning how to manage the American Food Supply, not just be denied and deprived while restricted to the wilderness.
The bottom line is: If you want to lose undesired body fat, please think about learning how to EAT, instead of embarking on a food program you really don’t want to maintain for the rest of your life. (Do you really want to never eat bagels, potato, or pasta for the rest of your life?)
Your best bet if to get personalized nutrition advice from a board certified specialist in sports dietetics (CSSD). You can find your local sports nutrition expert by using the referral network at www.SCANdpg.org.
Sports dietitians are an under-utilized coach. You’ll wish you hadn’t waited so long for profesional food help. You can also find helpful information in my Sports Nutrition Guidebook (2008; www.nancyclarkrd.com )