Runners Nutrition: Running Against the Grain

Did you all catch that awesome nutrition/running pun? It will make sense soon…

Happy Sunday!! (If you want, you can skip to the Nutrition Section below)

I was treated to some great running weather here in NYC Saturday morning as I completed a 15K (9 mile + some change) race in central park. Aside from the occasional horse poop smell, the race was smooth. I ran a good pace of 7:25, and knees held up pretty good. I say a good pace because I accumulate no mileage per week…I DON’T RUN…at all for these races, which is 9 total since the summer. I run the races as part of the New York Road Runners 9 + 1 program to earn guarantee entrance into the NYC 2016 Marathon…and Saturday marked my completion of the program ans

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Now, the reason I said all of that is because I have trained in the realm of strength and power for years, as I competed and trained in wrestling, and more recently MMA. I ran decent times considering the training I have been doing for those months have been based on strength and hypertrophy…basically being built like a fire hydrant. As I make my transition to be a runner, the training will switch to a more endurance based training, which traditionally includes using higher set and rep schemes, and lower weight(intensity). I plan to train differently…more on that in a later post.

Nutrition for runners has been, traditionally high carbs…so eating grains. There is an upcoming trend that runs against this traditional diet.

That trend is eating a diet compromised mostly of fats; healthy fats such as monounsaturated fats, or even polyunsaturated to a lesser extent. Side note: POLY-fats are associated (not cause and effect) to the progression of heart diseases via plaque formation in blood vessels i.e. canola oil.  The idea behind consuming a diet largely based on fats is that it fuels the energy demands of long distance running. The energy being used is mostly fats; carbs and protein are being used too but, to a lesser extent. So the theory goes: consuming more fat can increase the energy substrate needed for improved running. The Actual Science points otherwise. Studies show switching from a high carb to a low carb/high fat diet did not improve performance, it actually decreased performance numbers, and athletes fatigued quicker. Darn! But…

There is other new research looking into the possibility of going super low carb i.e. ketogenic. That study looked at short term explosive athletes. This study looked at the long term affects for obese patients. Long term use of ketogenic diets, which is consuming carbs below 50 grams, in order to produce ketones which the body can use for energy. The process can take 1 week to 3 weeks to “fat adapt” where the body becomes more efficient at converting fat to energy. And…that’s the key: the adaption for some can be easy but for others it can take a while, with plenty of hangry pains.

Because we are all different, certain people can thrive on a high carb diet, others will get fat, same goes for high protein, or high fat.

Here is where come in: I plan to follow a very low, not technically keto, diet when I begin marathon training in the new year…details to come. I am interested to know if I perform better on a traditional high carb or high fat/very low carb diet.

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