I was lucky enough to be invited back out to give another nutrition talk at The Running Room Abbotsford on June 12 with the 5K/Learn to Run group, and had a great time (as usual)! Thanks to group leader, Melanie, and all the members of the group!
Some great questions from the group led to some good discussions, which I wanted to summarize here, along with the basic info on nutrition I shared that night.
As always, if you have any doubts about anything we present on our site, you don't need to take our advice. Check with your doctor before making any significant dietary changes, or if you have any medical concerns that can be affected by diet.
Eat to Thrive - Food Should Not Be Stressful
If you're constantly wondering/worrying about what you should and shouldn't be eating, counting grams and going crazy, you've got the wrong mindset about food. Eating meals should be an enjoyable, mindful experience that helps you thrive as the healthiest, best you possible.
Our BTG Foundations Nutrition Coaching Program can help get your mind right about food!
Eat Real Food
If it comes in a bag or a box and can sit on a shelf for months on end, you can do better! Eat real meats/poultry/fish/whole eggs, and fresh, in-season, preferably local veggies and fruits, and some healthy carbs (more below). Shop your local farmer's market, or here in Abbotsford, Lepp Farm Market is a great source for local/BC grown products.
Learn to cook a few things really well, and really savour them and enjoy them with family and friends.
Eat Appropriate Amounts of Food
Some people eat too much. More and more often these days though, especially with habitual dieters, I have been finding that lots of people don't eat enough!
Precision Nutrition has a great guide for the hand-portioning strategy we talked about with the group, and forget about the stress/OCD of counting calories (here's a link). Start with this as a baseline, and don't stress about some initial weight gain if you find you are eating more than before - give it a month or two for your metabolism to catch up, then make adjustments if needed. Remember also that the guide is based on eating four times daily.
If you need help with this "metabolic reboot", Contact Us for a nutrition consultation, or to join our BTG Foundations Nutrition Coaching Program.
Carbs Are Not Evil
Despite the recent trend towards very-low-carb diets (Atkins, Paleo, etc.) and alarmist books like "The Wheat Belly", carbs are not evil - in fact, many people have found that very-low-carb has resulted in metabolic issues and hormone disruption, especially thyroid problems.
Conversely, and in opposition to decades of endurance training folk wisdom, you don't need to carb-load before a run either. The biggest problem with starchy carbs is that they are easy to over-eat, and it's this over-consumption (in terms of total caloric intake, not a specific macronutrient) that is the real problem.
Like everything else when it comes to food, you should look for quality carbs, and eat them in reasonable amounts (remember your portion sizes from the link above).
- Prioritize veggies and fruits, but don't forget about some starchy carbs!
- Good starchy carb sources: beans & other legumes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, white rice, quinoa, millet, barley, steel-cut oats
- Minimize consumption: sweets, processed grain products (bread, pasta, cereals)
Fats Are Also Not Evil!
It's less common these days that people are really freaking out about fats, but it's worth saying that we need dietary fat for proper function. Just remember your portion sizes!
- I strongly recommend a fish oil or algae oil supplement to help with Omega-6/Omega-3 fat intake ratio. The Canadian-made brand I currently recommend is Ascenta NutraSea/NutraVege. Buy the liquid, as it is much cheaper, and doesn't taste fishy at all!
- Eat Whole Eggs - nearly all of the nutrients in the egg are in the yolk. The whites are just protein, water and allergens. The fat in the yolk is healthy, and for about 70% of people, there is zero link between dietary cholesterol intake and serum cholesterol levels.
- Other good sources: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, cold-pressed coconut oil, raw nuts, butter/clarified butter, avocado
- Fats to Avoid: Trans Fats (nearly anything that is "hydrogenated" will be a trans-fat), seed oils (canola, grapeseed, sunflower seed, etc.) - the processing makes them very unhealthy, and they are super high in Omega-6 fatty acids, which you're already getting enough of.
Don't Drink Your Calories
It's really easy to consume lots of extra calories in liquid form. Stick to water, plain tea (black, green or herbal) and black coffee for the most part. Women should aim for about 2L per day of fluid intake, and men should aim for about 3.2L or more. Adjust as needed.
Eating for Training/Race Days
Unless your event is longer than 90 minutes or so in duration, you don't need any special nutrition around training or races for recovery if you're eating well and enough consistently on a day-to-day basis. No bars, gels, pills or potions are necessary.
For performance improvement, you'll get a lot more out of more practice running (or whatever you do) than you will stressing over miniscule nutritional/supplement advantages, and I wouldn't even bother looking at that stuff unless you are already in the top 5 in your event/age group, and are looking to get that last little edge. Just focus on the basics of healthy nutrition and train hard!
Allow Yourself To Indulge Once In a While!
Finally, allow yourself to indulge once in a while. As long as these indulgences are the exception rather than the norm (I.E. aim to make healthier choices 80-90% of the time, and treat yourself the other 10%), they will help more than harm.
If you want to have ice cream, don't buy crappy diet ice cream - have the real deal! If you want to have pizza, don't get some cardboard low-calorie pizza - go to Famoso and have la vera pizza Napoletana (my favourite is the Vesuvio). The point is, if you're going to indulge, enjoy it, don't half-ass it, and don't beat yourself up about it either!
Just be reasonable with the quantity, and get "back on track" at your next meal.
Thanks again to the group and The Running Room staff for having me out! If you'd like more info on how you can eat to thrive, enjoy real food again, and be the best YOU possible, please Contact Us at The BTG for more information on our nutrition coaching and training options!