By: Dr. Stephanie Duffey
As we gear up for the spring and summer, many of you are probably excited to capitalize on the warmer weather and increase your mileage. One of the best things you can do to feel great during your runs and promote effective recovery is to fuel your body with quality food. So, if you want to run better, recover faster, and feel AMAZING overall, I’m here to share my well-researched nutrition tips.
As you read through these tips, please be aware that this guidance is mainly for endurance athletes or folks running longer distances (between 45 minutes-1 hour). If you’re running for 30 minutes or less, the timing and precision of what you consume is a little more flexible.
Before we get into the details of what and when you should eat for optimal performance, it’s important to understand the three types of fuel your body expends.
Types of Fuel
1. Blood glucose is sugar found in your bloodstream and it’s the first source of energy your body burns because it’s highly accessible.
2. Glycogen is glucose in storage form and your body uses it when you’ve already tapped in to all of your blood glucose.
3. Fat takes the longest to break down and is the last source of fuel your body uses.
Now that you understand how the body accesses what it stores, we can get into the fun stuff: The food groups!
1. Carbs give you immediate energy and are used right away (so if you’re a high-endurance athlete, just say no to Keto). 60-65% of your diet should consist of high-quality carbs, but be sure they’re low in fiber so you don’t activate your digestive system. Additionally, know the difference between simple and complex carbs. Simple carbs (found in sports drinks, chews and gels) give you the immediate energy you need right before a workout. Complex carbs (think bread and pasta) take a little longer to break down so eat these a few hours before your run.
2. Fat provides endurance energy and (despite popular belief) is actually a good thing. If you’ve been buying low fat versions of food at the store, this is a public service announcement to stop doing that! Low fat items strip out fat and replace it with sugar. Instead, focus on quality and get a mix of saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
Examples: Saturated fat
Examples: Polyunsaturated fat:
Examples: Monounsaturated fat:
3. Protein is not used to give you energy during long runs. Instead, it’s critical to recovery. When you lift or run, your muscles tear and reform as stronger muscles. The more intense your workout is, the more micro-tears in your muscles. Aim for 20 grams of protein between 20-40 minutes after a workout to rebuild your muscles and 60-65 grams of protein broken up throughout the day.
Timing (AKA: What to eat before, during and after a run)
Before a run, fuel up on simple carbs low in fiber 30-60 minutes prior. You can also eat a big meal containing carbs the night before a morning run.
Some of my faves:
Unless you’re running for a duration longer than 60 minutes, you don’t need to fuel up during your run. If you’re an endurance athlete running a marathon, you’ll want to consume approximately 15-30g of carbs every hour. But you need to figure out what works for you PRIOR to race day so there are no surprises.
Some of my faves:
Be sure you eat carbs and protein immediately after you finish your run, ideally within 30-40 minutes. If you wait, you significantly reduce the glycogen that gets put back into muscle storage. This can limit your endurance on your next run...no good. Glycogen stores in muscle are super important for distance running!
Some of my faves:
If you’re looking for some great recipes for runners, be sure to check out Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. I've been loving this cookbook!
I hope these tips help you maintain high energy levels during and after your workouts. Got a favorite snack you eat before, during or after your run? Share in the comments!
By: Dr. Stephanie Duffey
With the holidays coming to a close, it’s a great time to reflect on what happened in 2019 and look ahead to 2020. If you’re like me, you probably have a million ideas for what you’d like to achieve in the new year. It’s hard not to get caught up in the idea that you have to make huge changes the second January 1 hits. I’m here to tell you that while I admire your ambition, there’s a better way to achieve what you’ve set out to accomplish. In this post, I’ll outline how to set long-term goals (not short-term resolutions) so you can crush 2020!
One big goal can seem daunting and unattainable. But one small adjustment per month–now that’s more realistic! Consider breaking your large goal into smaller milestones. Weight loss is a common one that I hear about often so let’s break it down using a six-month tracker.
Notice that you can make a huge undertaking feel much more manageable by simply splitting out what you want to achieve into consumable, monthly or daily to-do’s. Much like I recommend keeping a food journal, I also recommend that you track any progress or setback you experience each month. This holds you accountable and helps you understand where you need to continue to make changes, and where you thrive.
Good luck with your long-terms goals this new year and if you want help from an expert, let’s chat!
By: Dr. Stephanie Duffey
The holidays are always a time of year where we spend time with loved ones, bundle up, and of course indulge! We’ve all been at a family gathering where we’ve gone back for a third roll (or dessert), only to regret it later. Often this spirals into the unrealistic declaration that we’re “never touching carbs again.” And then we try…and fail…and the cycle repeats. Sound familiar?
I’ve been there too and my personal philosophy is not about restriction—it’s about balance. What if I told you, you could feel better about the choices you’re making and enjoy that slice of grandma’s famous apple pie? Here are a few of my tips for mindful eating, especially around the holiday season.
1. Focus on a nutrition plan, not a diet
Unless you have a food intolerance or allergy, try not to think about eliminating entire food groups. I hate to even use the word “diet,” because when I think of nutrition, I don’t like to think of cutting things out. A balanced plate is the best kind of plate.
2. Choose minimally processed foods
A great place to start is by reading nutrition labels, or choosing foods that don’t require a nutrition label. For packaged foods, the fewer ingredients, the better. Another tip is to look for ingredients you recognize. Try to avoid labels with overly complex ingredients like monosodium glutamate, sucralose, or other nearly indistinguishable words. Instead, stick to a wide variety of fruits and veggies, lean proteins, and foods as close to the ground as possible.
3. Keep a food journal
I know it sounds tedious but I can’t tell you how beneficial it is to physically track what you’re consuming. Journaling about what you’re putting into your body offers good insights to habits and holds you accountable. It also allows you to easily identify how you feel after eating certain foods. You may start to notice patterns. For example, eating sugar could make you feel lethargic or more prone to headaches. Maybe it will even force you to think twice before eating that sugar cookie.
4. Ensure you’re hydrating (with the right liquids)
Hydrating with the right liquids not only helps curb hunger, but it’s also essential in keeping everything running smoothly in your body. Try to stick to water and sparkling water rather than sugary drinks. If you like coffee or tea, consume these in moderation and be aware that they can cause dehydration when consumed in large quantities. Make it your goal to drink half your weight in ounces of water. So, if you weigh 130lbs, your goal is to drink 65oz of water.
5. Let it go!
This one is really important to remember. The holidays are meant to be fun, so be mindful but enjoy yourself. If you had one roll too many, or that slice of pie you didn’t need, let it go and look at each meal as an opportunity to fuel and nourish your body with care.
I hope you enjoy all the wonderful food and time with your loved ones this holiday season!
Want more advice about overall wellness? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter, coming soon.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.