Long ago, well not really long ago, I did a lot more with nutrition. I went to school originally for dietetics and ended up studying my masters in holistic nutrition. I worked for an amazing woman with a lot of talent and knowledge in the world of nutrition….she taught me a lot….so yes….I probably know more about nutrition then the average Joe….however, I don’t feel like you have to study like I did in order to know what works for you!
I thought I would touch upon my thoughts in regards to “carbs”. I don’t feel it is necessary to explain what carbohydrates are in that they are incredibly important to all life not just to runners, (although this is a key nutrient for the bunch).
Carbohydrates, as well as fats and proteins, are not all created equal. I think food trends have helped remove the misconception that everything carbohydrate is bad; after all, if that were true then vegetables, fruit, whole grains, dairy would all be bad. I am not an advocate of low carb anything, however, if that is what you chose to do…more power to you.
Numbers, let’s talk numbers. I am not a numbers person in more way than one. I never excelled in math, (however, I was great at calculating TPNs in dietetics…go figure). I never liked the idea that a number had the power to define me in terms of my health or how good of an athlete I could be. This of course has a lot to do with the number on the scale.
In terms of numbers and carbohydrates, I think it is wiser/better to focus on quality versus quantity. I say this a lot in my nutrition philosophy, but I really believe in that phrase, “quantity versus quality”…I’d go so far as to say that I think that phrase rings true for a lot of things in life…but I won’t go on that tangent.
If I were to tell someone what to focus on in regards to carbohydrates I would say this:
- The more you do the more you need. If you are planning on running a long run over the weekend…if you limit your carbohydrate intake you will be “hitting the wall” a whole heck of a lot sooner then someone who ate their carbs, (however, I don’t believe in carb-loading).
- Don’t fixate on one kind. Variety is the spice in my life. I think what helps me from having a hard time with weight is that I don’t go over board with one particular food.
- Not all carbohydrates are created equal. If you were to sit down and consume a whole box of donuts after a run…yes, you could get away with it….however, it is not refueling you in the way your body needs in order to rebuild tissue as well as making sure you’re not dipping into muscle stores. Running depletes your glycogen stores…you need carbs to regenerate them….I try to make my carbohydrate choices 99% good with a 1% bad thrown in if I feel like that is what will satisfy my soul.
- Listen to your body! this is my most critical piece of advice. I run really well while eating things like sweet potatoes, yukon potatoes, squashes, quinoa, zucchini before a long run…it fuels me without making me bloat from too much fiber. However, some people might thrive on something completely different and that’s okay!
- Building a good base with nutrition doesn’t just happen over night, (think of this like building your base while running if that helps). What you do today will help you tomorrow, but what you have been doing for the last week/month/months will be where you see the biggest gain. Always do your best to consume healthful carbohydrates, but know that the big pay off will be down the road after your body has had time to become nourished and better balanced.
- My biggest weight-gaining carbohydrate is SUGAR…it’s easy to consume too much of, it’s usually consumed in a more processed form, and it is literally like crack to me…I can’t stop.
I hope this is making sense! I am not good at writing my feelings in regard to nutrition, I’m much better at a face-to-face conversation or over the phone. I feel really passionate about this topic, (after all it was what healed me when I was very sick). If there are any questions, comments, or concerns…I would love to hear them!
I believe you are all the most valuable nutritionists in your life…you live in your body day in and day out and there will be no-one else that will know your gut more then you….go out their and experiment, journal, and be mindful of the foods/carbohydrates that work for you!
My idea of a great carbohydrate-ladened meal that is satisfying, filling, tastes great, and is full of carbohydrate-goodness.