The word ‘diet’ has many different contexts. For example:
restriction: “I can’t eat XYZ foods.”
a type of pattern or cuisine: “I eat in line with the Mediterranean diet.”
fad/trend: “I’m starting the Grapefruit Diet to detox!”
clinical prescription: “My doctor prescribed an autoimmune diet for my thyroid condition.”
Aside from the new year hubbub that is filled with trendy diet pitches and 21-day diet challenges, have you wondered whether it is time to change up your dietary pattern to support your health and performance goals? Let me provide a few considerations to help you self-assess a bit further.
What is the “issue” you are trying to improve or solve?
Weight loss is on the minds of many athletes this time of the year in advance of big races and events planned for 2019. If this is you, then I recommend taking some time to reflect on where you’ve been in your diet hopping experience and where you are now with your food relationship. Often times, athletes jump to the latest and greatest diet fad without pondering their past or how food fits into their life currently.
It may be surprising to some, but much of the research shows that there are many kinds of diets that can work to promote weight loss. The keys are finding what is sustainable for you (to avoid the yo-yo trend of loss-gain-loss-gain-rinse-repeat), what is safe and optimal (in terms of supporting your needs as an athlete), and what your habits and behaviors are around food that need to be modified (I call this the “nitty gritty that no one likes to address”).
If weight loss is not your primary goal, perhaps it is another set of signs and symptoms that you are experiencing. For example:
poor exercise performance (feeling flat, can’t hit intensities, fade quickly into an aerobic session)
energy lulls, poor concentration during everyday living
gut issues such as bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea
sugar and/or caffeine cravings
Maybe you just intuitively know that it is time for a change – you are now a masters athlete, there are midlife hormonal changes, or quite frankly, your diet is pretty subpar.
What do you know objectively about your signs and symptoms? For example, do you have recent athlete-specific blood work to reveal any deficiencies? Have you changed your nutrition relatively recently that could be a contributing (negative) factor? Have you had a professional assessment from a Sport Dietitian to piece apart all of the “inputs”?
As you can hopefully see, there are potentially many reasons to move forward with a change in your nutrition. Similarly, there are many layers that makes the decision process as to which kind of dietary pattern a more complicated process than simply mimicking what a friend or training partner does. It takes some time and effort to think through where you’ve been, where you are, and where you want to go… for both health and performance as they go hand in hand.
The endurance sports world likes to use the words fuel and nutrition a lot to refer to the mandatory task of eating. Makes sense, as we need to fuel our bodies with nutritious foods in order to achieve our best performance. But seeing all this can be a bit overwhelming for the new athlete. This post is geared toward the new athlete who might be getting off the couch and trying to become more fit and lose a few pounds while they are at it.
That being said, these tips will also help a seasoned athlete who maybe took a little too much time off in the off-season and is looking to get back to it.
If you are changing something about your life, like adding training to your daily routine, then you don’t want to change too much too soon. It takes about 3 weeks or so for a new routine to become habit, so if you change too much, there is a good chance to become overwhelmed and revert back to your old ways. My suggestion is to take the first month of your training and just get that comfortably into your schedule. And ease into that as well – if you haven’t gone to the gym in 3 years, then don’t try to go every day! Start 2-3 times per week and see how you do.
Once you’ve settled into your new structured training routine, then we can take a closer look at nutrition. Again, we’re going to ease into changes. First, keep a log for about 3-4 days (including a weekend day or your “off” day). Write down everything you eat. Everything. Do you grab three M&M’s? write it down. You can also include when you eat and any feelings you are experiencing while you eat.
This log will give you (and your coach if you have one) a good idea of your current eating habits. Without counting calories, there are some easy things to look for in your log. The goal will be to maximize your consumption of fruit, vegetables, lean meats and healthy fats. But first look at how many “snack” foods you are consuming.
One simple change is to replace a snack with a healthier option (fruit and some nuts, celery and peanut butter, yogurt with fruit). If you’ve been eating a Little Debbie snack cake in the afternoon for the last couple years, don’t go cold turkey either. Reduce your consumption (perhaps only every-other day, or only half a serving) until you prefer the healthier option over the Little Debbie. If you get the daily mocha or latte – do you really need a venti or grande? Would a tall satisfy the craving? Can black coffee suffice? Another thing to think about is if you are really hungry when you are eating. Ask yourself if you are truly hungry or if you are bored.
For your main meals, start adding an extra serving of vegetables…they are low in calories and will help fill you up. You’ll be surprised on how quickly you will feel better once you are eating more natural foods over processed foods.
One last tip – have your healthy meals and snacks prepared ahead of time. If you bring your lunch to work, bring snacks already measured out. The food companies already do this (snack size chips, cookies, etc) so do the same. You can put together a bunch of snacks over the weekend and then just grab them in the morning.
Just by making some simple replacements and no calorie counting, you can eat healthier and you will feel better and stronger.
Make gradual changes to your exercise and eating habits to improve success
Keep a food journal for a few days to really understand your eating habits
Slowly replace not so healthy food with healtier choices (lots of fruits and veggies!)
If I am eating a treat, can I get a smaller portion and satisfy the craving?
Am I really hungry when I eat?
Prepare healthy snacks in ready-to-eat portions so they are easy to grab and go.
Hopefully these tips will help you start thinking about what you are eating.
Reverse the negative effects of exercise with this protocol even a 5-year-old could follow.
by Susan Kitchen
Endurance athletes such as runners and triathletes are the first to tout the benefits of exercise, or “training,” as the more serious among us call it. Surely, the purpose of training is to improve aerobic endurance, muscle adaptation, and strength, resulting not only in performance gains, but general health and well-being as well.
But like all medicines, training—especially at the level seen in long-course endurance sports—also puts stress on the body. This is knows as oxidative stress, or more colloquially, inflammation.
Inflammation is a bit of a buzz word in health these days, but put simply, it has to do with the effects of stress on the body. Exercise causes micro traumas to our muscles, connective tissue, joints, and bones (which allow our bodies to adapt and our fitness to improve), but also the release of cortisol, the most prominent stress hormone. All of these natural responses have their place, but without the proper recovery, sleep, and nutritional support, the inflammatory response can persist over time and lead to injury or illness.
The market is flooded with tools to combat inflammation, and it’s easy to throw money at the feel-good quick fixes. The most powerful antioxidants can be found right under our noses, however, and don’t cost a fortune. In fact, you probably have some laying around in your kitchen right now.
Long-Course Race Execution: All about Pacing and Nutrition
We’ve all witnessed the athlete that posts every workout on social media for months before their big Ironman. Epic days in the saddle over 140 miles, double and triple bricks taking up the entire weekend, runs that would make Alberto Salazar drool. They approach the starting line looking like a Greek god, lean, strong, and ready to take on the world. 14 hours later they have been limited to the “Ironman Shuffle”, hours from their goal just happy to finish. What happened?
Introducing the 4th and 5th disciplines: Pacing and Nutrition (not in any particular order)
Pacing or racing at a percentage of your threshold Heart Rate, Functional Threshold of Power (FTP), or pace/speed is absolutely imperative to crossing the finish line near the potential of your ability. If you don’t have a specific number in your head for the Bike and the Run as you read this it’s time to get evaluated. You can ask any qualified coach or sports science institute to have your threshold tested and determined on the bike and run via Lactate Threshold (LT) testing or as simple as a testing protocol on the trainer or treadmill. Besides LT testing, we have found great success nailing an athlete’s threshold level using the Wahoo Kickr™ trainers for the bike and a treadmill or the track for the run. Your threshold level will also change as your progress in your training so they need to be reevaluated at least every 6 weeks. Your pacing plan could be somewhere in the range of 75-88% of threshold for full-distance and 78-90% for half-distance but very individualized based on past race performance, training, and your discipline strengths.
With nutrition, there is no magic ingredient or formula for everyone attempting a long-course race. Most of us get in the habit of reading Elite athlete blogs or a race report from somebody that just punched their ticket to Kona and adapt to their plan of number of calories, carbs, electrolytes, and funky colored stuff in the water bottle. It is highly individual based on your body type, physiologically how your body processes and absorbs nutrients, race experience, training, and race day weather. What your coach or nutritionist should do is give you guidance to practice months out in the same environment of your race to develop a nutrition plan as important as a race plan and pacing plan.
Avoid the gut rot of gels and chewables as much as possible by consuming solid “real” foods at least the first 75% of the bike. If you wouldn’t eat this stuff on a normal day in the office, why would you eat it during your most important race? My favorites are energy balls, pancake sandwiches, broth, and portables.
Don’t forget liquids. Roughly one bottle of hydration (preferably electrolytes) per hour, more if the weather is hot or if you have a large stature or heavy sweater.
Percentage of calories, carbs, and nutrients from liquids increases as you approach the run leg due to GI distress experienced by most athletes
Percentages from liquids increase as weather heats up. Your body absorbs and processes slower as temperature increases.
Aim for 200-600 calories, 30-50g Carbs, 500-1000mg of Na PER HOUR from solid and liquid on the bike.
On the run, highly individual to what you can get in. The numbers above are reduced to the lower range. Keep the nutrition plan together as long as you can, be flexible and listen to your body. Sometimes Coca-Cola or a Red Bull is heaven’s nectar!
As you scroll through the list of athletes on the 2018 First Endurance Team, you may notice that more than half of them live and train in Colorado. In addition, all of the new athletes added to their roster are from Boulder.
Among the new additions for the 2018 season is Maia Ignatz, a professional XTERRA athlete who lives, works and trains in Boulder. Although recovering from a season ending injury in July 2017, Maia said she is ‘honored to be a part of the First Endurance Triathlon Team for 2018’. She adds, ‘I am grateful that First Endurance will be my nutrition during this crucial time for me, and I believe that I will be able to race again by mid-July. ‘
Watch for Maia at XTERRA Beaver Creek in July, XTERRA Pan Am Championships in September and on Maui in October for XTERRA World Championships.
2018 First Endurance Team
First Endurance is proud to announce its 17-member professional triathlon team for 2018. In 2017 the team earned high accolades; collectively the team won 4 podiums at world championships, set a World Record for the fastest IRONMAN (branded) time, set the fastest ever IRONMAN by an American, won the North American Ironman Championships, won 38 races and landed on the podium 81 times. For 2018 the team looks to continue to build upon these results while working hand in hand with First Endurance testing and collaborating in the development of products. Together with some of the best triathletes in the world, we continue to evolve our product line.
Josiah Middaugh (FE athlete since 2004), Vail
Heather Wurtele (FE athlete since 2010)
Trevor Wurtele (FE athlete since 2010)
Cam Dye (FE athlete since 2011), Boulder
Branden Rakita (FE athlete since 2012), Colorado springs
Angela Naeth (FE athlete since 2013)
Matt Hanson – Fastest American IRONMAN, North American IRONMAN Champion (FE athlete since 2014)
Danielle Mack (FE athlete since 2014), Boulder
Kevin Collington (FE athlete since 2015)
Jeanni Seymour (FE athlete since 2016)
Tim Don – Current IRONMAN (branded) World Record Holder (FE athlete since 2017), Boulder
Lindsey Jerdonek – ITU & long course triathlete, Boulder
Justin Metzler – long course triathlete, Boulder
Sam Long – XTERRA & long course triathlete, Boulder
Christen Brown – long course triathlete, Boulder
Maia Ignatz – XTERRA triathlete, Boulder
Jason West – short course triathlete, Boulder
As an athlete of any kind, we are always pushing the limits of our body. Workouts break us down. In order to reach the finish line of our next race we need our body to adapt to the stress of training.
Have you ever been sore after a workout? Of course! That soreness is a sign that you’ve successfully broken down muscle tissue during your activity that is required to become better, faster, and stronger.
We frequently read about the latest training recommendations in the world, which claim to shape you into a better athlete: training supplements, nutritional fads, ice baths, muscle rubs, compression garments, and stretching……
What is the optimal recovery routine? To answer that question we sat down with top American professional triathlete Justin Metzler.
In addition to year-round training, Justin raced twelve 70.3s, or half Ironman distance triathlons last year on five continents with multiple podium finishes. This level of consistent racing requires massive weekly hours of swimming, biking, and running with many of those days having multiple training sessions. In order to recover from one session enough to hit the next just as hard, he has dialed in the most effective recovery tools-and he is sharing his secrets with us.
How do you recover from a typical training session?
Immediately following a training session or race I have a recovery drink. Regardless of the type of session or which sport, any type of workout will break down muscle and deplete glycogen stores. My immediate goal is to replenish the glycogen and supply my body with the amino acids it needs to rebuild the muscle I just broke down. After trying a lot of different flavors and brands, I prefer First Endurance Ultragen. It has the optimal balance of carbohydrate to protein in addition to a number of essential vitamins and minerals to help rebuild for the next session. Not to mention, it tastes great!
When I can, I tend to structure the training to have enough down time in between the workouts to allow me to relax, put my feet up, and grab some food. In between sessions I am primarily focusing on foods high in protein and nutrient density. Some examples include lean meats, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables.
What is a typical routine after your training is completely done for the day?
After the training is done I try to relax, answer emails, talk with my nutrition and coaching clients, and make a healthful dinner with my girlfriend- fellow professional triathlete, Jeanni Seymour. Just like everyone else, our day-to-day is quite busy and we often are out training from dawn to dusk. But we always try to make dinner a time that we can cook together, eat together and catch up on the days activities. Once or twice a week, we have a glass of red wine to help relax!
Before bed, I always try to use my Normatec boots for somewhere between 30-60 minutes. On harder days I go for less time at a softer setting. On easier days I bump up the intensity and sit in them for a bit longer. The boots are a great tool to aid in recovery but I try not to disrupt my body’s natural recovery process.
I always have some form of protein before bed. Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or whey protein are my ‘go-to’s. The protein helps give my body what it needs recover over night, the time when the majority of your recovery gains will be made. People often overlook the fact that your ability to improve is dictated by your ability to absorb training load. So recovery is equally important to any hard training session that you may do.
How much sleep do you get each night?
As I mentioned, sleep is a big priority for me. I have spent the money necessary to have a great mattress, sound machine, ear plugs, etc in order to try to get the most quality sleep I can every night. I aim to get 8-10 hours a night, and I don’t usually nap unless I fail to get my normal amount of sleep.
Do you have recovery days built into your training plan?
My training is structured to have some days of active recovery. On recovery days, I use the lighter workouts as a warm up for any foam rolling, stretching, or rehab exercises I may need to focus on. I also try to schedule chiropractic and massage appointments every week to help address any small issues before they become something I actually have to worry about.
Do you take any supplements?
The only supplements I take are fish oil (I like the KLEAN or Zone Labs brands) and a multivitamin (First Endurance multi-v is my favorite). As a professional who gets drug tested regularly, I watch what I consume carefully. I find that with a proper healthful diet, most people don’t need many supplements. Shoot for a minimum of four fruits and four vegetables every day.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to any runner or triathlete about recovery?
Nail your nutrition. You should have just as much importance placed on fueling correctly as you do building a training schedule. The worst thing to happen to any endurance athlete in a race is hitting the wall and having to slow down or get the dreaded DNF.
In every workout you use stored glycogen for fuel. If you deplete the glycogen stores you hit the wall. To fully come back from depleting your stores, it takes days or weeks. This means your next workouts suffer or you’re not able to complete them.
The key is to never let your glycogen stores get too low. Think of it like the fuel gage on your car. Try to never let it dip below 25-50% capacity.
I try to have a form of carbohydrates every 30 minutes during a workout. A gel, half a bar, banana, or sports drink, helps to make sure my “fuel tank” never falls below the level I am shooting for.
How does Boulder Sports Chiropractic help you?
It is so important to stay on top of injury risk. My body is my livelihood and if I’m injured, I can’t race! Getting weekly treatments to focus on any tightness I may have from shoulder pain to calf tightness keeps me from having any injury set backs. I love the Active Release Technique and dry needling. In addition to massage and rehab; chiropractic care and the modalities Boulder Sports Chiropractic rely on are a critical part to my body work protocol.
More about Justin…
In addition to professional triathlon, Justin has a degree in human physiology and nutrition. He has a unique set of skills developed through hours in the classroom paired with 10 years of multisport experience. When he is not training, he helps athletes like you build customized nutrition plans to address any weakness in training, racing or general body composition.
Services Justin offers: one-on-one monthly coaching, race specific training plans, race nutrition strategies, race weight planning, daily nutrition strategies for optimal body composition and general nutrition guidelines.
If you feel like you could benefit from building a proper nutrition plan for training/racing, or to learn more about the services that Justin offers, contact him at:
At Boulder Sports Chiropractic, we use movement screens to biomechanically evaluate how your whole body is moving and how it works together.We use the best techniques to address your source of pain and dysfunction including Active Release Technique, Graston, and Dry Needling.
We send every patient home with the rehab exercises or stretches to give you the tools to fix the problem, not just treat the symptoms! Contact us today to schedule your appointment.
AND, if you missed the news, Infinit Nutrition is now offering Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice MUD Recovery!
Skip the coffeehouses’ PSL this fall and mix up your own “PSM” using 100% all natural Pumpkin Spice MUD! Same yummy flavor as the cafès’ seasonal lattè, boosted with protein, plus the added goodness of real pumpkin and omega-3 rich flaxseed. Perfect to use as a pre-workout fuel or recovery drink, this delicious mix is loaded with pure whey protein isolate, coffee, real pumpkin, premium ground flax and 3 different carb sources.