It’s not rocket science…
While there is a lot that goes into nutrition, you really don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know how to fuel your body. As athletes, we are always pushing for an edge… more… better… faster, but when we get down to it, if we aren’t covering the basics, the rest won’t matter.
What does covering the basics look like?
There are tons of calculators out there that will tell you exactly how many grams of protein you need for your body weight and based on your goals. As a former figure competitor and competitive fitness coach, I know all too well about measuring, weighing, and timing grams of protein. Those days are long gone and I no longer have to obsess about such numbers because I boiled it all down to I consume 15-30 grams of protein in 3-5 meals each day depending on my level of activity and how much sleep I’ve gotten.
Carbohydrates… This includes fruits, veggies, and starches such as rice, oats, potatoes, winter squash, etc.
Like protein intake, you can calculate your recommended. That’s a great way to get a feel for what your body needs and to bring awareness to portion size, but at the end of the day, most of us aren’t going to measure, weigh, and log our food. Just like protein, I have some sort of carbohydrate in each meal. Sometimes it is a starch, like sweet potato, and sometimes it is fruit, but I try to have green veggies in just about every meal I eat. Even in my shakes… if you don’t like the kale in your shake, opt for frozen spinach. You can’t even taste it! The biggest thing to watch out for here is PROCESSED foods… if it had to go through a process, it is processed.
Fats… Fat doesn’t make fat, so eat it!
Fats are incredibly important for our health and our happiness, but we need to watch out for which kinds of fats. This is always up for debate, so be careful what you read. As a general rule, stick with good fats such as avocados, raw nuts (roasting can damage the fats), coconut oil, and grass fed butter. More and more research shows that olive oil shouldn’t be used for cooking, and shouldn’t be used as much as we have been using it in general. Fats also keep you satiated, so if you have some mean sugar cravings, take a look at your fat intake. Increasing your fat intake a bit may be all you need to change.
Stephanie’s Daily Nutrition Give or Take…
6AM IsaLean Pro Shake + 1/2 avocado +1/4 cup blueberries + 1/2 cup frozen kale or spinach +1/4 cup frozen beets
9AM 3 Eggs + 2 slices bacon +1/2 grapefruit
12PM 6 ounces protein (chicken or fish) + at least 2 cups of greens + 1/2 medium sweet potato
3PM IsaLean Shake + 1/2 avocado +1/4 cup blueberries + 1/2 cup frozen kale or spinach + 1/4 cup frozen beets
6PM 5 ounces grass fed beef + 1 cup of green veg + 1/2 cup brown rice
9PM 3 egg whites + 1T coconut oil
We use plenty of pink himalayan sea salt!
Stephen’s Daily Nutrition Give or Take…
Steve’s nutrition is very similar with larger portions to fuel the extra muscle he carries.
Pickle juice and chicken broth are incorporated into the week of race nutrition. Sodium is your friend when you are getting ready for an obstacle course race.
Your pre-race nutrition should be pretty much the same as your daily nutrition, but maybe add in an extra sweet potato before you go to bed. For breakfast, race with the same fuel you have been training with. Race day is never a good time to change ANYTHING. Not your food… Not your gear…
During Race Nutrition
This is an area where athletes really like to experiment, but please experiment in training first!
We prefer to run on fats for the first part of the race and then switch over to carbs for energy during the second half if the race is longer than a Sprint distance. Some of the Supers can be fueled the same way as a Sprint (run on your body’s stored energy = no need to fuel along the way), such as the Boston Super, but grueling Supers like PA and VA need serious race fuel.
Check out this article on using fats during a race to see what we are talking about: http://www.bengreenfieldfitness.com/2013/05/low-carb-triathlon-training/
Protein bars are excellent for stuffing into your hydration pack or a zipper pocket. Our favorites include Exo Protein Bars (enter the code THEATHELITE to get 20% off) and Isagenix Meal Replacement Bars. Some people prefer GU paks. We love individual packs of cashew, almond, and chocolate coconut butter. The Shot Bloks handed out on some courses have saved us more than a few times. Why risk it? Take your own.
PS… I don’t think you get any more Spartan than eating cricket protein. AROO! Crickets aren’t just for military survival training.
As much as you want to have that free beer they give you after a race, there couldn’t be a worse time to consume alcohol. You have just caused major damage to your muscles and they are primed to receive anything you give them. Loading them up with a toxin like alcohol will not only delay your recovery but could cause even more damage to your muscle tissue.
A liquid meal replacement shake is ideal since your body will not have to break down the food in order to use the nutrients. We prefer Isagenix IsaLean Shake and/or IsaLean Pro Shake. It doesn’t contain any artificial flavorings or sweeteners either.
Enjoy a nourishing meal post race. Your body will gobble up those nutrients and put them to work. Something like a big, juicy grass fed burger or steak is ideal. Add sweet potato fries to the order and your body will be satisfied.
Things to avoid post-race would be large amounts of refined/processed sugars and alcohol. Other than that, you really can’t go wrong. Oh and large amounts of dairy can cause gastrointestinal distress. Skip the gallon of ice cream. Think of your post race meal as refueling versus rewarding.
AVOID THEM!!!! Here are some links for why… Short version is that they are dangerous and will make you feel exhausted in the long-term:
IF you take a protein powder supplement AND it is of great quality, you will not need to take a separate BCAA. BCAAs sold on their own almost always contain some sort of artificial sweeteners and/or artificial flavors. The supplement industry saw that there was a health benefit to BCAAs, so they figured out how to create them using a synthetic process and market them. Synthetic means your body doesn’t use them the same way it uses naturally occurring BCAAs. The supplement industry is tricky… since it is not regulated by the FDA, they can pretty much say what they want and not really have to prove it. In the case of BCAAs, they can market the benefits of BCAAs (as in when studies were done using natural BCAAs) while selling the synthetic version. Pretty tricky, huh? Which brings me to protein powders…
We are asked this question ALL of the time. Which protein powder is the best? As you can imagine, there are thousands to choose from, so we will give you a list of what to avoid and what you want.
SOY!!! For every reason from soy contains phytoestrogens to it is cheap and the body doesn’t use it well to most of it is genetically modified, soy is by far the worst protein powder choice. Not sure what I’m talking about? Just google dangers of soy.
Artificial Flavors/Colors – these chemicals wreak havoc in our bodies…
Artificial Sweeteners – I will let some artificial flavor/color slide, but never artificial sweeteners. Especially sucralose, aka Splenda, and this is why:
Sucralose is highly processed with 3 chlorine atoms. It is simply chlorinated sugar and has been shown to damage the thymus gland and inflame the liver and kidneys. Chlorine is a natural antiseptic that harms the human gut and destroys micro-flora leading to candida formation, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and obesity.
Remember when I said there is no need to use BCAAs if your protein powder is of good quality? Find one that has a solid BCAA profile.
Undenatured. Meaning it didn’t go through a superheating process. Most whey protein companies use this process because it is faster and cheaper. This process also makes the protein powder less bioavailable because the heating changes the molecular structure.
Meal replacement shakes having too few calories, leaving you hungry and insufficiently fueled. A “meal” really needs to be a meal… as in over 200 calories.
As indicated above, we use Isagenix and have been since 2010.