Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!  Now that the holiday season has officially kicked off, it’s time to talk about nutrition.  Did you know the average holiday meal has 229 grams of fat?!?  Here are a couple of strategies to help fight the battle of the holiday bulge this year.

-Challenge yourself and your friends.  Weigh yourself today and again after New Year’s.  Try to maintain your weight within 2 pounds.  I do this every year with some friends at work and we get a prize if we succeed.  Knowing I am accountable to others makes me think more about what I eat.

-Increase your workouts.   We all go to holiday parties or eat the homemade cookies someone brings into the office.  Accept that you will eat more and make it a point to increase every workout by 10 minutes for the next couple of months. 

-Take advantage of free fitness opportunities.  Take the stairs, park in the farthest spot, or do a couple of laps around the mall before starting your Christmas shopping.  These little things do add up.

-Going to a holiday party?  Have a light meal prior to attending to avoid binging on the not-so-healthy foods at the buffet.  Try to make better choices, like soups, salads, shrimp cocktail, and the veggie tray.  Use salsa instead of cream or cheese-based dips.   Finish with fruit instead of dessert.  

These are just a couple of simple ideas to help with the inevitable eating that goes on during the holidays.  Remember, your body is only as good as the fuel you put in it!  If you want to perform well, feed it well!

Happy Thanksgiving!   

Jennifer

As runners, we often think we can eat whatever we want.  This is how I often rationalize it in my head… “I just ran 18 miles.  I can have a cheeseburger and fries.”  I’ve tried to change my thinking to realize my body is only as good as the food I put into it.  Here are some foods that are great for runners.

Low-fat plain yogurt – excellent source of calcium and protein.  And by choosing plain yogurt, you can sweeten it naturally by adding granola or fruits, like blueberries and blackberries, a great source of antioxidants.  Greek yogurt has even more protein versus traditional yogurt.  Plain yogurt combined with herbs can also be used as a topping for meats or as a dip.

Chicken – sounds basic, right?  But, it is a great source of low-fat protein and is so versatile!

Whole grains – like cereals, pastas, and breads provide good sources of fiber.  My favorite cereal is Kashi Go Lean Crunch.  It tastes like granola, but is low fat, high fiber, and high protein.  I mix it with Greek yogurt and berries for breakfast.  Yum!

Eggs – high in protein and choline, and some even contain omega-3’s.  One of my favorite meals is breakfast for dinner!  I scramble veggies, like peppers, onions, mushrooms, and spinach, with egg whites and top with salsa.        

Some foods that are super healthy and super quick…

Canned black beans – excellent source of protein and so easy to throw in a salad, eggs, or mixed in with some veggies.

Stir fry vegetables – I love these for a quick meal.  Add in some chicken or tofu and dinner is ready in minutes!

Bagged spinach – I always keep this in my refrigerator!  It is so easy to make a quick salad to go with dinner or some spinach quesadillas. 

These are just a few of the many foods that are good and good for you.  Remember, our bodies need good fuel to function well.  What is your favorite healthy food or recipe?

Happy running and eating!

Jennifer

When I am in the midst of a 3 hour run, I often start to daydream about food. What delicious morsel am I going to have for my post-run feast – a smoothie? A pizza? Or the ultimate, cheese fries? There is a reason why people dream of food as they are in the middle of a long run – you are burning calories and depleting carbohydrates from your stores. Glucose is stored in the body as glycogen. When this supply is depleted, people are left feeling drained, both physically and mentally. Consuming carbohydrates while you run can help maintain your glucose level.

But, at what point do you need to worry about this and take carb replenishment with you on a run? According to Runner’s World magazine, anything longer than 75 minutes requires supplementation. Anything shorter, the food you ate pre-run and your body’s glycogen stores can handle. Don’t wait until your body is completely fatigued to start consuming calories. It is best to start 30 to 60 minutes into a run. Continue throughout the workout in small, frequent quantities. It is recommended to have 100 to 250 calories per hour after that. The amount of calories depends on the size of the person (bigger person=more calories) and the fitness of the runner (less fit=more calories required).

So, how are you supposed to consume all of these calories as you run? There are several different ways. Sports drinks, like Gatorade or Hammer’s HEED, both provide calories. However, the large volume required may cause a sloshy feeling in your stomach – not good when there are 8 miles left to go. Several runners use carbohydrate gels, like Gu, Hammer Gel, Carb Boom, or PowerBar Gel. These come in small packets, in a whole variety of flavors, and most have about 100 calories per packet. They fit easily into pockets of running shorts for portability and some even have caffeine, for an extra boost. Another form of carb replacement is gummy blocks, like Cliff Blocks (think of a giant cube shaped gummy bear) or jelly beans, like Sport Beans. Some companies make products with carbs combined with protein, for a steady level of glucose, like Sustained Energy by Hammer. Experiment with them all and find out what works for you. Some people do have problems tolerating these gels, from a GI perspective. When on a long run, blood is diverted from the gut to the muscles, making these products hard to digest for some people.

Remember, maintaining nutrition on the course can prevent you from hitting the dreaded wall. So, try a few different types and flavors and see what works for you.

Next week: running gadgets.

Happy running and eating!
Jennifer