Healthy Macronutrient Tips: One Week Pre-Race
This is the second of six blogs written for the awesome folks at FitMKE. I’m very excited and honored — this is a big deal.
In my first blog, “Well Before Race Day: Day -1000 to 2 Weeks Pre-Race”, I introduced the idea of cleaning up your diet from many moons ago up to two weeks from race day. Up until this point, you may not have even realized the effect food has had on your body. Despite the fact that we live in one of the most educated and informed societies on the planet, we can’t possible know it all.
A quick lesson on macronutrients – Our bodies use specific nutrients in large amounts for proper metabolic function. These nutrient groups are called macronutrients. They are comprised of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. The majority of foods we eat are a combination of these macronutrients. For example, an almond is primarily a fat, but it contains protein and carbohydrates as well.
Knowing this is fine and dandy, but what does it have to do with 5K nutrition? It’s all about making healthier choices as we get closer to race day. To make things simple, following are three comparisons and tips for each of the three macronutrient groups. Each tip will take you one step closer to a healthier body and faster, killer 5K experience.
TIP #1 — FAT: Go natural nut butter (i.e. peanut, almond) over conventional
We need fat in our diets, even as runners. Body fat protects internal organs and is involved with body temperature and hormone regulation. So what’s all the fuss about? Hydrogenated fat is the fuss. It’s fake, foreign to our athletic bodies and cheap, which explains why it’s a major ingredient in so many nut butters and boxed, bagged, processed foods. Our bodies just aren’t equipped to break it down and use it as fuel. Instead, it sits in our adipose tissue (fat), raising our LDL cholesterol levels and increasing inflammation which can lead to injuries.
TIP #2 — PROTEIN: Go grass-fed over conventional meat OR Vegetables over meat
I was really torn over this one. As a moderate meat eater, I find myself craving more and more veggies lately (pending summer produce – yah!). Yet with so many protein options to chose from, I wanted to cover my bases. When it really comes down to it, the more natural of a protein you eat, the more efficient and forgiving your body will be during training and racing.
Grass-fed animals, which are different from organic, are just that, fed grass. As a result, their meat tastes better, is leaner and because of their care, their piece of pasture is happier too (no antibiotics or harmful fertilizers). If going even greener makes you smile, try leafy greens, beans, nuts, wheat gluten or tempeh (fermented tofu) for non-meat protein options. I know plenty of vibrant, competitive vegetarians and vegans (no animal products) who can beat me any day in a foot race. Never underestimate a vegetarian or vegan athlete… Never.
TIP #3 — CARBOHYDRATES: Go whole grain over “multi” or “enriched” flours
Marketing at its best. When you see a product at the grocery store labeled “multigrain”, it simple means it contains several different types of grains. Unless it is plainly stated as “whole”, you’re getting processed flour. Eating whole grains such as oatmeal, quinoa, barley, amaranth or brown rice, will satisfy you longer (full tummy), replenish glycogen stores, and provide additional, naturally occurring nutrients you won’t get from processed grains, AKA flours. SPOILER – Quickly digested carbohydrates have their place in race training, and we’ll discuss them as we get closer to race day in upcoming blogs.
The main point to keep in mind when preparing and training for a race is to have fun. Trying new foods may sound scary, but I promise that when you do, you’ll move one step closer to a spry race and healthier life overall.
Coming up: “Getting in the Zone: 1-3 Days Pre-Race” I’ll share a few of my favorite secrets that lead me to PR in two consecutive races earlier this year. They’re a lot simpler than you’d think and extremely beneficial. I can’t wait to share them with you!
Signing off for now – with love from my desk to yours.