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Category: Clean Eating

Clean Eating

The Dynamic Impact of Micronutrients: How to Achieve Peak Performance

Running isn’t just about putting one foot in front of the other; it’s a holistic experience that requires proper nutrition to reach peak performance. Macronutrients– carbohydrates, proteins, and fats- often steal the spotlight. It’s the lesser-known heroes, the micronutrients, that play a crucial role in supporting a runner’s journey. Let’s explore the importance of micronutrients in running and how they contribute to overall performance and well-being.

What are Micronutrients?

Micronutrients encompass a variety of vitamins, minerals and organic acids that are essential for various bodily functions. These include vitamins such as vitamin A, B, C, D, E, K, and carotenoids. Minerals include calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and organic acids such as lactic acid, citric acid, choline and taurine. While they are required in smaller quantities compared to macronutrients, their importance should not be underestimated.

Vitamins role on Running Performance

Vitamin A

Vitamin A’s role in bolstering immune function ensures runners can maintain consistent training without succumbing to illness. With muscle repair, promoting bone health and acting as an antioxidant, vitamin A aids in minimizing the risk of injuries. Also, vitamin A reduces exercise-induced inflammation, contributing to enhanced endurance and faster recovery times.

B Vitamins

B vitamins include thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folate (B9), and cobalamin (B12). whew, those are a mouthful! Let’s refer to these as the B complex vitamins. These vitamins act as coenzymes in various metabolic pathways crucial for energy production. They play a synergistic role in macronutrient metabolism, ensuring a steady supply of fuel for our running endeavors. Moreover, B6 and B12, are involved in red blood cell production, contributing to optimal oxygen delivery to working muscles. Incorporating a diverse array of B vitamin-rich foods like whole grains, lean meats, dairy products, legumes, and leafy greens into your diet can help sustain energy levels and support peak performance.

Vitamin C

For runners, maintaining a robust immune system is paramount to sustaining consistent training and performance. Enter vitamin C, a potent antioxidant renowned for its immune-boosting properties. This vitamin helps protect against oxidative stress induced by intense exercise, reducing the risk of illness and promoting faster recovery. Additionally, vitamin C supports collagen synthesis, aiding in the repair of connective tissues and minimizing the risk of injuries such as tendonitis. Load up on vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers, and broccoli to fortify your immune defenses.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin”. Beyond its well-known contribution to bone health, vitamin D influences various physiological processes crucial for endurance and recovery in runners. Adequate levels of vitamin D are associated with improved muscle strength and coordination reducing the risk of injury during runs. Its impact on mood regulation and mental well-being further enhances running performance by promoting motivation and resilience. As such, ensuring sufficient vitamin D intake, whether through sunlight exposure or dietary sources like fatty fish and fortified foods, is essential for runners seeking to maximize their potential.

Vitamin E

As runners push their bodies to the limit, they generate oxidative stress, leading to muscle damage and fatigue. Vitamin E swoops in as a potent antioxidant, neutralizing harmful free radicals and reducing exercise-induced inflammation, ultimately promoting faster recovery. Moreover, vitamin E supports cardiovascular health by protecting against the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which can contribute to plaque buildup in the vessels. Enhanced blood flow and reduced muscle damage translate to improved endurance, enabling runners to sustain higher levels of exertion for longer durations. To harness the benefits of vitamin E, incorporating sources like nuts, seeds, leafy greens, and vegetable oils into the diet is essential.

Carotenoids

Carotenoids are a group of pigments found in various fruits and vegetables, and wield a notable influence on exercise performance and recovery. By scavenging free radicals generated during physical activity, beta-carotene aids in protecting cells and tissues from damage. Moreover, certain carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, have been linked to improved eye health and visual acuity, enhancing coordination and agility during exercise.

Minerals

Calcium

Calcium is an essential mineral involved in muscle contraction, enabling runners to move efficiently as well as regulating nerve impulses, ensuring proper communication between the brain and muscles. Additionally, calcium contributes to maintaining electrolyte balance, supporting optimal hydration levels and preventing muscle cramps during prolonged workouts.

Iron

One of the most crucial micronutrients for runners is iron. This mineral serves as the cornerstone of hemoglobin, the molecule responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to the muscles. Adequate iron levels are paramount for maximizing aerobic capacity and staving off fatigue during long runs. Without sufficient iron intake, runners may experience decreased energy levels, impaired endurance, and even symptoms of anemia. Incorporating iron-rich foods like lean meats, leafy greens, legumes, and fortified grains into your diet can help maintain optimal iron levels and support peak performance.

Magnesium

Magnesium is a micronutrient that often flies under the radar but plays a pivotal role in energy metabolism and muscle function. As runners, we rely on magnesium to convert carbohydrates into energy, regulate muscle contractions, and maintain electrolyte balance. Deficiencies in magnesium can manifest as muscle cramps, fatigue, and impaired performance. To ensure optimal magnesium intake, incorporate magnesium-rich foods like nuts, seeds, whole grains, and leafy greens into your diet, and consider magnesium supplementation if necessary.

Quercetin

Quercetin

Potassium

During exercise, potassium works alongside sodium to regulate fluid balance and hydration levels within the body. Potassium is also involved in nerve signaling and muscle contractions, including the contraction of the heart muscle, which is essential for maintaining a regular heartbeat. Potassium also plays a role in supporting kidney function by aiding in the elimination of waste products.

Zinc

Zinc plays a role in immune function, helping to support the body’s defenses against infections and illnesses that could sideline training efforts. Involved in protein synthesis, zinc aids in the repair and growth of muscle tissue damaged during exercise. Furthermore, zinc contributes to the production of testosterone, a hormone important for muscle growth and strength.

Organic Acids

Organic acids, such as citric acid and malic acid, are involved in the Krebs cycle, also known as the citric acid cycle, which is a central pathway for energy production in cells. During exercise, organic acids help break down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary source of energy for muscle contractions. organic acids can help regulate pH levels in the body, buffering the acidic byproducts produced during intense exercise. While organic acids are naturally produced in the body, certain foods and supplements, such as citrus fruits and tart cherry juice, contain high levels of these compounds and may offer additional benefits.

From providing energy and oxygen transport to supporting immune function, bone health, and muscle repair, micronutrients contribute to every aspect of a runner’s journey. Ensuring sufficient intake of micronutrients through a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats, as well as supplements when needed, not only optimize running performance but also promote longevity and overall vitality.

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Embracing the Benefits of Clean Eating: A Nutrient-Rich Journey

In a world filled with processed foods and tempting indulgences, the concept of clean eating has gained significant traction among health-conscious individuals. Clean eating involves consuming whole, minimally processed foods that are rich in nutrients, providing the body with the fuel it needs to function optimally. This approach to nutrition offers a myriad of benefits, ranging from improved overall health to increased energy levels. Let’s delve into the advantages of clean eating and explore a delicious recipe that exemplifies this wholesome lifestyle.

Benefits of Clean Eating:

Nutrient Dense

One of the key benefits of clean eating is the emphasis on nutrient-dense foods. Whole fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support various bodily functions. These nutrient-rich foods contribute to overall well-being, boost the immune system, and promote optimal organ function.

Weight Management

Clean eating encourages a balanced and sustainable approach to weight management. By choosing whole foods over processed options, individuals can maintain a healthy weight more effectively. Whole foods are often lower in calories and higher in fiber, promoting satiety and reducing the likelihood of overeating.

Increased Energy Levels

The nutrient-packed nature of clean foods can lead to increased energy levels. Unlike the temporary spikes and crashes associated with processed sugars, clean eating provides a steady release of energy throughout the day. This sustained energy helps improve focus, productivity, and overall vitality.

Improved Digestive Health

Whole, unprocessed foods are rich in dietary fiber, promoting healthy digestion. Fiber aids in maintaining regular bowel movements, preventing constipation, and supporting a balanced gut microbiome. Clean eating can contribute to a healthier digestive system, reducing the risk of gastrointestinal issues.

Enhanced Mental Clarity

The connection between nutrition and mental health is gaining recognition, and clean eating plays a crucial role in supporting cognitive function. Nutrient-rich foods, such as omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and nuts, have been linked to improved concentration, memory, and overall brain health.

A Wholesome Recipe: Quinoa Salad with Lemon-Herb Dressing

Now, let’s explore a delicious and nutritious recipe that exemplifies the principles of clean eating: Quinoa Salad with Lemon-Herb Dressing.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

For the Lemon-Herb Dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine quinoa and water or vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until quinoa is cooked and water is absorbed.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, and parsley.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the Lemon-Herb Dressing: olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, minced garlic, salt, and pepper.
  4. Pour the dressing over the quinoa and vegetable mixture. Toss gently until well combined.
  5. Serve the quinoa salad chilled, and enjoy a nutritious, flavorful meal that embodies the principles of clean eating.

Embracing a clean eating lifestyle brings numerous benefits, from improved nutrient intake to enhanced overall well-being. By choosing whole, minimally processed foods, individuals can nourish their bodies with the essential nutrients needed for optimal health. Incorporating wholesome recipes like the Quinoa Salad with Lemon-Herb Dressing can make clean eating not only beneficial but also delicious and satisfying. So, take a step towards a healthier you by making clean eating a part of your daily routine.

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Transform your Health: Ultimate Whole 30 Meal Plan with Recipes!

With Grocery Lists and Recipe Links!

Truth be told, I failed my first attempt at Whole 30 two years ago, (eek, shamed face). Now you may be asking, why in the world would I start by saying that?! That’s not encouraging at all! But that’s just the opposite. We are all on our own Whole 30 journey at different stages. For some this is your first try too, and if you’re in that category I am so happy to share what mistakes to avoid. Some of you have completed several Whole 30’s before and you’re here for the most simple and elaborate whole 30 menu with grocery list and recipe links from start to finish. No matter your reason, I’m glad you’re here!

The Whole 30 Recipes

There are SO MANY amazing Whole 30 recipes! So I’ve actually spent the past few months taste testing dozens in preparation for my next Whole 30. That leads to recommendation #1 for success- plan your meals! My first attempt at Whole 30, I planned only a few meals, and then thought I could just ‘wing it’ for each additional meal based on what I felt like eating. Well what I felt like eating was Dr Pepper and sourdough bread, duh! haha Lucky for you, I’ve done all the hard work for you with this complete Meal plan.

This Whole 30 meal plan is unique in that it doesn’t have you cooking every night. Which leads me to Recommendation #2- set your expectations realistically! Ideally, I’d love to make a home-cooked meal with fresh diced vegetables and slow cooked meat everyday. But that time-consuming plan doesn’t exactly fit in my daily Full time work and two busy kiddos schedule! This Whole 30 meal plan focuses on prepping wholesome delicious meals every 5 days, with grocery lists to accommodate every 10 days. I know that every 5 days is a bit odd and will land on some weekdays of meal prepping, but as a Nurse Practitioner working 12 days on and 9 days off, making three meals every 5th day is doable for everybody! (even on a weekday). So without further ado,

A Complete Whole 30 Meal Plan

Click on each meal for the recipe link!

Know that you won’t be alone on this journey, there are so many wonderful resources out there to support you, myself included! I am starting my second attempt at Whole 30 in TWO days, eek!! I’ve signed up to run a Half Marathon in March and this time around I’m dedicated to Whole 30 for that ‘TIGER BLOOD!’ Which leads to Recommendation #3- know that Whole 30 is temporary! The first time around my goal was to quit sugar, (primarily my addiction to Dr Pepper). And although quitting sugar for good is an honest goal, it was not a goal I could sustain for the rest of my life. So I figured, what’s the difference of no sugar for 30 days vs the 16 days when I quit.

Look at this Whole 30 adventure as a new discipline

Let me explain. Ever since my two year old first tried Halloween candy he asks me daily, “I wan canne mama” and most days I have to tell him “No” and endure the 10 minute temper tantrum to follow. But when was the last time you or I told ourselves no? If I want Halloween candy, I eat it. This upcoming 30 days we get to enjoy delicious food that nourishes our body, but that comes with discipline for our mind! So help yourself out just a bit more to ease your mind, Recommendation #4- Eat food you normally eat! Our family eats Tacos and spaghetti (Yum!) nearly every week. So that’s what we get in our Meal plan, delicious Spagetthi squash with meat sauce and Taco Salad!

The Grocery Lists

How the Meal plan works

As mentioned above, we’ll be meal prepping three meals every fifth day, and then making one dinner in between. All the meals on the plan have a link to the recipe if you click on them! (That’s my favorite part of the simplicity of the plan! 🙂 The grocery lists are broken down so you’re only going shopping 3 times during the 30 days- that way your veggies are still fresh, but you’re not spending all your time at the store. The first ‘Stock your pantry’ day I’d like you to CHECK your pantry first! I had nearly every one of these spices already in my cabinet, so please don’t spend the extra money if you don’t have to. And if you happen to have a deep freezer, make one big trip to Costco before you get started and you can have all your meat ready to go also.

So here we go! God give me the strength to be mindful of what I eat and drink and enjoy this journey of Whole 30!

I’d Love to hear your comments on which recipes you enjoyed and tips to your success of Whole 30 below! Also Be sure to subscribe and follow our journey as We Run the States!

Clean Eating Weekly Meal Plan for easy weeknight dinners

I enjoy preparing an easy, clean eating weekly meal plan every week. Spending a few hours in my kitchen on Sunday ensures that the week runs smoothly and is well worth the investment. I’m like any other full-time working, busy-running-errands mom, so having a few “one-pot wonders” are great for planning and clean up.

With young active kids, we have soccer practice a few days a week, hence the crockpot cooking on Tuesday and “planned overs” on Thursday. I prefer using the term ‘planned over’ instead ‘left over’. There is always extra food after dinner, no how delicious the recipe, so let’s plan to eat it at another time! I know we’ll be in a crunch for time this week, so this way we’re set up for success. Today I’d just like to share how easy your week can be with this clean eating weekly meal plan.

Clean Eating Weekly Meal Plan

What’s on the menu?

Monday- Jambalaya. Let’s start our week out Spicy! but not too spicy, we’ve got kids to feed too! This easy weeknight meal is made in foil packets for super easy cleanup. (TIP: I generally will add Adele’s chicken sausage instead of skinless chicken breast)

Tuesday- Crockpot Chicken Enchilada soup. Top with sour cream, fresh cilantro, tomatoes and avocados in order to cool this hot summer dish down.

Wednesday- Tri Tip. Using the grill outdoors is an economical way to keep the oven off and your house cooler this summer. Any grill will do the trick, we just happen to have a Traegar, so I’ve linked the recipe accordingly. An amazing way to use Tri tip ‘planned overs’ for lunch is adding a French hoagie roll and au jus for a French dip sandwich.

Thursday- Planned overs. I’m sure you won’t be too devastated to repeat Jambalaya, enchilada soup and Tri tip tonight.

Friday- Mahi Mahi with mango salsa. This is one of my absolute favorite summer recipes. The wild caught white fish compliments the tropical notes of mango perfectly. For added perfection, add a glass of chilled white wine, Happy Friday!

Meal plan to strengthen your Running

This Summer is filled with training for Fall races. And Nutrition is the core to all training plans. I have two half marathons and my first triathlon planned! Riding a road bike and swimming in open water are definitely engaging new muscle groups for me. What races do you have planned for this Fall? Never run a half marathon before? Here’s a list of reasons you haven’t run a half marathon, and how to overcome them!

Travel

Here are a few Fall half marathons. Rock ‘n Roll series, run the strip at night Las Vegas, Nevada and Happy girls run Sisters, Oregon. If there’s one piece of advice I can give, it’s plan your running attire according to the most recent weather predicted. Otherwise you’ll end up running a half marathon in booty shorts at night in the snow!

Download the Clean eating weekly meal plan above and Click for a link to the recipe.

What To Do When Half Marathon Is Derailed With Unexpected Injury

Training for a half marathon is a commitment of time and energy to yourself. With 12-weeks of preparation, your training can be derailed with unexpected injury or illness and have such an impact on the outcome of the race. I’ve alway considered myself a particularly healthy individual. With an education in healthcare, I write about endurance running & form, clean eating, and how traveling the world improves your mental health and creativity. During my training for the Idaho potato half marathon, I was diagnosed with a new autoimmune disease that shocked my core to the very being.

How in the world did I end up being admitted to a hospital for a week with extreme gut pain? How could this happen to me? Then of course the subsequent self-doubt mind chatter follows. Did I cause this autoimmune disease? Did I eat too much sugar? Was this caused by recent stress during the pandemic and moving my family to a different state, or lack of sleep being a full-time mom and working?

According to national Institute for health, more than 7% of the American population suffers from Autoimmune disease and the prevalence is rising. Triggers of autoimmune disease include stress, diet, exercise, insufficient sleep, and yet again I’m angered with this diagnosis wondering,

‘I thought I was healthy, what the heck happened?

Moving forward, learning to control my symptoms of autoimmune disorder I appreciate the wealth of knowledge regarding clean eating and food to nourish my body. To gain perspective on the healing effects of clean eating for our bodies, let’s begin with the most underrated organ of our body, our gut. Here are a few facts that absolutely blew my mind about our gut’s amazing abilities.

  • One ounce of our stool (poop), has more microbes than there are people living on this entire planet! Wow! Each one of us holds our own ecosystem within our gut.
  • Your Genome has the potential to grow over 400 million different ecosystems. That translates to, if you’re not happy with your body‘s performance now, go and build one of the other 399 million options your genome has potential of. You’re microbiome changes every three days!

You can focus on changing your gut ecosystem from sedentary lifestyle to Elite athlete with proper clean eating nutrition.

Meaning, There’s Hope for you and me!

  • 95% of serotonin originates in your gut. Serotonin is a neurochemical in your brain that controls mood, which is why when you’re feeling loved you can get ‘butterfly’s in your tummy’. Also the use of an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) is the mainstay medication used to treat anxiety and depression. This means what you eat determines whether you have anxiety, depression, fatigue, fear, guilt.

With building entirely unique gut ecosystems, we literally become the phrase “you are what you eat!”

With more knowledge on gut health, let’s begin to provoke change. Finding a problem is liberating as it helps lead to a solution. The walls our our digestive tract are extremely thin, less than one cell in diameter. With certain foods the lining will become porous letting “bad bacteria” slip through the lining causing chronic inflammation.

Signs of chronic inflammation include:

  • Fatigue
  • abdominal or chest pain
  • mouth sores
  • fever
  • rashes
  • joint pain

(I have definitely experienced ALL of these symptoms personally, *and if you have, you should speak with your primary care provider*)

So what do we do about the rise of autoimmune disease, and how does this affect my running?

I had been training for a half marathon in Idaho. I highly considered cancelling my race after two separate admissions to the hospital to control my gut pain. Life had thrown me a curveball; just as it had done at the Grand Teton half marathon, when I unexpectedly had to push a double stroller for 13.1 miles.

But running a half marathon in each state is a journey within itself. The road trip across states with my best friends was be pivotal to my soul, and laughter I desperately need. Traveling to different states gives my body exposure to different microbiomes. And people with the ‘healthiest guts’ tend to have the greatest diversity of bacteria in their microbiome.

Plus, I have now given myself permission to walk the entire race with rest and bathroom stops as often as I need to.

This upcoming race will challenge me, even if I only walk the course. and that’s ok.

I can create one of the other 399 million potential microbiomes my genome is capable of creating. So I continue upon this clean eating lifestyle, and continue to learn and share my knowledge with you in hopes you can excel to your athletic potential as well.

For additional knowledge, I recommend taking Outside’s Learn “the gut health fix”, with Seamus Mullen. This master class has been pivotal in my understanding, and I highly recommend this course.

I write to you as a running coach to make suggestions to improve your performance. But YOU get to make the decisions. Choose options that honor your body and your practice.

I went on to start the famous Idaho potato Half marathon as planned, and I FINISHED the RACE STRONG!

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What to eat during a Marathon for a Strong Finish

Avoiding the “bonk” during your marathon

To set the scene, we’ve just run 23.1 out of 26.2 miles in the beautiful Avenue of the giants, redwoods of California, Marathon. We’ve trained for this day, and now our performance will reflect all our hard work. All that was left was 3.1 miles to finish. A 5K, (Which in marathon training) I was confident I could complete in my sleep.

Throughout the course we’ve stopped at each aid station for a quick sip of water and even sampled an energy gummy pack at the aid station. Energy gummy’s that other ‘more experienced runners’ had raved about. But our fueling for this marathon was ill-prepared. We did not pack any water, electrolytes or energy supplements for the run. I “hit a wall” at mile marker twenty-three and had to walk the last three miles of my race. I did not yet know what to eat during a marathon for peak performance.

Although I was extremely grateful to finish the race, I was disappointed in my performance. I had not anticipated that on average,

Runner’s burn through about 100 calories per mile.

That’s about 2,600 calories consumed in a marathon, and greater than the average daily recommended caloric intake! Although I thought we had prepared appropriately (with a carb loaded spaghetti and garlic bread dinner the night before) we needed much more fuel to sustain energy before, during and after our marathon for a strong finish.

What to eat before marathon (1-2 hours before run)

Half and Full marathons generally start at sunrise to beat the mid-morning heat. With an anticipated 7 am start time, you should be waking no later than 5 am to begin your fueling. Anticipate 1-2 hours before your run starts and focus on simple carbohydrates.

Carbs are the easiest source of energy for the body to convert to glucose

Glucose is needed to fuel your brain and muscles. Along with carbohydrates, add in a source of caffeine. Limit your intake of caffeine to what your body is used to before race day; but having caffeine enhances your mental focus for the race ahead.

Most importantly before the race, focus on hydration! Say it with me now: most importantly, before your run focus on hydration! Maintaining hydration is imperative for performance, as it helps regulate our temperature, and enable our bodies to endure our peak performance.

what to eat during marathon

Pre-Fuel Guidelines

  • Carbohydrates: Focus on simple carbs, low fiber
  • Protein and Fat: small amounts of protein for stability- main source of energy will be drawn from carbs
  • Caffeine- enhance mental focus and preparedness
  • HYDRATION: urine should be pale yellow

Hydration, Hydration, Hydration!

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What to eat during your Race

After completing our first full Marathon, my entire focus was on how I failed at the end of the race. I wistfully hobbled across the finish line at a mere five hour finish time. How did that finish time become so slow? We had trained for this. Our longest training run was 20 miles long, so it must have been the last three miles that ruined my goal time. Nearly a decade later I can assure you, I didn’t lose my goal time in the last three miles of my race.

I lost my race within the first 15 minutes it began

Hydration starts early. Within the first 15 minutes of your run you should be taking 2-3 gulps of fluids, and continue hydration every 15 minutes. Along with fluids, bring at least 30 grams of carbohydrates per hour of endurance activity. Consuming those energy gummies in my marathon was game-changing, but put into perspective, I should have brought at least five packets to sufficiently sustain me. Continue to adjust your hydration and carbohydrates based on your environment- (is it a hot day? are you running at altitude?)

During your Run

  • Sustain energy levels. Avoid the “BONK”!
  • Aim for at least 30g of carbohydrates per hour for endurance
  • Hydration starts EARLY! Within the first 15 minutes of a run you should be taking 2-3 gulps of fluids.
what to eat during marathon

What to eat in Recovery

Immediately after the marathon my body appropriately scarfed down a ton of food. Giving in to all of my cravings, I proudly consumed a sushi roll, a chocolate milkshake, chicken fajitas and a cheeseburger all while lying in bed! The key to recovery nutrition is to replenish all the nutrients and electrolytes you have lost during your endurance activity. Aim for at least 20-30 grams of protein for muscle repair.

what to eat during marathon

Recovery Run fuel (15-60 mins after)

  • Replenish the Nutrients and electrolytes you’ve lost
  • Protein: Eat at least 20-30g of protein for muscle tissue repair and protein synthesis
  • REST

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Embracing the clean eating lifestyle

We Run the States logo incorporates five words to immediately inform you of what we stand for. Travel, Clean eating and Half Marathons

My best friend cleverly stated she could never represent we run the states mantra of clean eating in good conscience. She lives off of refined-grain macaroni with powdered cheese and hot pockets. We laughed, and I considered removing the ‘clean eating lifestyle’ aspect of the logo. This led me to take a closer look at my own eating habits and realized, “hmmm, maybe I can’t stand for clean eating either”. (As I crunched on a bag of cheddar and sour cream chips). After much analysis, I did include clean eating in what We Run the states represents. Although I also struggle to make entirely clean eating choices, I understand how important nutrition is for running recovery and performance, and so it’s worth it to encourage a healthy life. So lets get to the main question,

What is a Clean Eating lifestyle?

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I sit here writing about a clean eating lifestyle in the airport of South Carolina awaiting to board our plane. I have just finished my fourth half marathon this year, and 10th state towards my goal of running all 50 states. We arrived two hours before our flight, which is generally a safe rule of thumb for airports. However, this airport is quite small with only three departing flights for the day. We scour the airport for the only source of food and drink available, which happens to be a vending machine charging $5 for water. Our options include a variety of potato chips and candy.

The kids settle on Swedish fish, honey BBQ Chex mix and a fruit punch drink (with no actual juice in it- only sugar). Traditional American fare. We could have anticipated these options and packed wholesome snacks to the airport, (because a clean eating lifestyle is an understandably more logical choice for our health). But let me explain how some are actually genetically predisposed to preferring these traditional American fare choices- sugars! Thus making it that much harder to pick clean eating snacks instead of those delicious Swedish fish or hot pockets.

How our current diet differs from clean eating

The typical American diet consists of high intakes of processed meats, conveniently packaged snacks, refined grains, sweet treats and salty chips. To say the typical American diet tastes delicious is an understatement, and that is exactly what the food industry has aimed to achieve. They have created candy and soda to be at least one and a half times sweeter than natural fruit. Fruit contains a natural sugar called fructose, whereas many processed foods contain high fructose corn syrup. Candy and soda have a sugar that is so much sweeter, it spikes a synthetic surge of dopamine in the brain.

Our brain releases Dopamine, a chemical that helps us learn where to find cravings. These cravings are learned in the brain and repeated to teach us where to find pleasure, satisfaction and motivation. Therefore, after consuming a highly processed, dopamine-spiking sugar, it can be difficult to go back to a less-sweet fruit.

How some are genetically predisposed to sugar

Those who are genetically predisposed to craving sweets, breads, pasta etc. are sugar sensitive. You may (or may not) be surprised to know that sugar is as potent a drug as alcohol, heroin or oxycontin. sugar sensitive people tend to be the one’s who just can’t seem to stick to their diet or healthy choices, and typically continue to gain weight. But encouragingly, this biochemical change in the brain is NOT a lack of willpower or weakness. sugar sensitivity, a working hypothesis tokened by the author of, Potatoes not prozac, empowers people to follow an easy step-by-step guide to overcome this sensitivity to sweets and make clean eating choices easier.

Clean eating lifestyle is simply, eating real food.

Food that is unprocessed and naturally occurring. Think of one ingredient items from the grocery store or garden:

Clean Eating Lifestyle

  • Fruit: apples, strawberries, bananas, tomatoes, avocados
  • Vegetables: asparagus, corn, onions, carrots
  • Meats: steak, chicken, pork
  • Seafood: Salmon, mackerel, shrimp, crab
  • Nuts: cashews, macadamia, pistachio, almonds, walnuts
  • Whole Grains: oats, 100% whole wheat
  • Dairy: fermented cheese, milk

The parameter of all grocery stores is a good place to find whole food. Avoid those center aisles of preservation- canned items, cereals, chips, sodas, etc, as a general rule of thumb. Here is one of my favorite Clean eating recipe sites and meal plan to incorporate all this delicious food.

How does food affect running performance?

So you may be thinking, “why is it even important to incorporate a clean eating lifestyle?” As my best friend clearly pointed out, she can still run faster than me. (Even though she’s powered on processed meals.) However, processed and refined carbs can lead to significant variances in blood sugar. In other words, there’s no telling when you may “bonk” or “hit a wall” in a run. Although my friend is running faster than I am, she’s still not at her full potential. Eating healthy provides nutrient dense carbohydrates to sustain you for the long run. There’s a whole lot more to this concept addressed in Macronutrients: Food to fuel your run. I encourage you to experiment with clean eating. Explore nutrient dense meals to power your run, and see the improvements in your performance!

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No Questions asked, the Top 10 Comforting Clean Eating Recipes Fall

I’m sure every comforting recipes for Fall blog starts with how incredible autumn is. The changing leaves with days getting colder. The nights getting longer and families growing closer by the fire. These blog posts start like this for a reason, Fall is the most wonderful time of the year! For clean eating recipes for fall, the crockpot becomes the Head chef. The leafy greens and earthy root vegetables are harvested to become the main attraction. More time is spent inside the kitchen over the steaming stovetop. Or sitting around the dining room table with a board game, friends and wine. Enjoy these Top 10 Recipes for fall that are healthy, just click on recipe for ingredients and directions.

Steak with caramelized vegetables

This Clean eating recipe for fall can be made tonight and use the extra prepared steak and veggies for tomorrow’s French onion-style beef stew. One key feature of this recipe is how much time it asks for sautéing the veggies. Chef’s tip, Don’t skip out on this time to hurry the recipe. Time is used to caramelize the vegetables which really enhances the dinner. Enjoy with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon from Dry Farm Wines.

French Onion-Style Beef vegetable stew

I’m a sucker for French onion soup, yum! If it’s on the menu, I’m ordering it! Make this stew from yesterday’s saved steak and veggies.

Whole roasted chicken with lemon and Rosemary

You absolutely cannot exclude a whole roasted chicken with rosemary in your recipes for Fall lineup. There’s something about rosemary that’s warm and comforting. Accompany that with rosemary being rich in iron, calcium, vitamins A, C and B-6 and you’ve got yourself a complete meal.

Apricot Curry chicken thighs with potatoes and Asparagus

A good friend brought over this easy sheet pan recipe already prepared so all I had to do was stick it in the oven. The kids and I were fed wonderfully for an entire week! The sweet apricot jam mixed with the pungent curry was very satisfying.

Autumn on a plate

Every season needs a Salad. 🙂

Sautéed pork chops and Apples

This is a classic combination of pork chops and apples that satisfies even the pickiest kid eaters.

Slow cooker Pot Roast and Veggies

Autumn equals Slow cooker pot roast and veggies. ‘nough said.

Slow cooker turkey and white bean chili

Warm chili sitting by the fire as the autumn leaves fall blow outside. That evening sounds like pure perfection to me!

Pumpkin Pie

Do you know how you can tell if it’s time for recipes for fall yet? It’s when you start seeing pumpkin EVERYTHING in the stores! pumpkin spice latte, pumpkin granola, pumpkin etc. so of course we had to find a healthy pumpkin pie recipe.

This Fall I have planned two half marathons and a triathlon. Here’s an article on How to run back to back half marathons. What’re you training for this Fall?

Delicious Ultima replenisher electrolytes Mocktail review

I received Ultima Replenisher hydration packs to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

This spring I attended a nurse practitioner conference that addressed all aspects of healthcare. It included diabetes management, new updates on birth control and antibiotic stewardship. However, the one lecture that captured my attention and then ignited me to research more in depth was; “the Ketogenic diet: It’s not just a fad”. I had heard of the ketogenic diet, like most people have, and I too, thought it was a cultural trend. But the supporting literature on the benefits of the keto diet astounded me, and so I thought, “I’ve got to try keto for myself”! (I’m a strong believer in recommending evidence-based practice to my patient’s so they can make an informed decision.) Now this post is not about the keto diet, I’ve written an entire post on how the body uses macronutrients here. This is a review on finally finding,

a zero sugar, zero carbohydrate Ultima replenisher electrolyte

Electrolytes are vital for athletes to replenish the minerals they lose while sweating. Did anybody else watch the women’s marathon olympics in Tokyo? Those girls were in record heat! One strategy for peak performance is maintaining proper hydration while you’re exercising. I knew all of this information, however I could never quite find the ‘right electrolyte for me’. When Bibrave mentioned writing a Ultima replenisher review “Run the rainbow” Mocktini variety pack, my response was “YES PLEASE”!

Ultima Replenisher electrolytes are:

  • Sugar Free
  • Keto Friendly
  • Vegan
  • Caffeine-free
  • Non- GMO
  • Sweetened with organic stevia leaf
  • Real fruit extract flavors

Ultima Replenisher electrolytes are right up my alley!

My favorite flavor’s are the Cherry pomegranate and Peach Bellini, but I suggest you try them all to find your favorite. Not only do I enjoy Ultima for running, my husband uses them for his workouts also. And my kids make them into electrolyte popsicles! I’ve subscribed monthly and can’t wait for my next supply to arrive!

Check ’em out at Ultimareplenisher.com for 20% off your first purchase!

Check out other reviews, race discounts and cool gear!

ultima replenisher

Fuel your run: Everything you need to know about Macronutrients

The most common question I get asked as a rural healthcare provider is, “Why am I gaining so much weight?”. This question is then followed by their definition of their ‘healthy lifestyle’. Unsurprisingly, this definition differs greatly between each individual and is often accompanied with a high total cholesterol level. These two topics- gaining weight and high cholesterol- sought me to dive deep into research of nutrition and macronutrients; so here’s my Nurse Practitioner spiel. Let’s start at the core of nutrition, macronutrients.

What is a healthy diet?

You may have heard people “counting macros” before for weight loss, but what is a macro? Macronutrients are the three components consumed daily in our diet to provide us energy. There. That wasn’t so hard 🙂 I’ll bet you can even name a couple of these macros. Some of you may have guessed protein, as you should. Protein serves a vital role in strength and structure. Most people think of the bodybuilder image, but we all consume protein daily for vital functions. Another macronutrient is carbohydrates. “Carbs” are the most easily converted source of energy consumed in our diet. Then of course, there’s the final third macronutrient, the ‘dreaded’, Fat. By the end of this discussion I hope to provide the knowledge you deserve to no longer dread fat! But how?! Hear me out.

healthy fats including Avocado and eggs

Fat

I’m an 80’s baby, so growing up I’ve been bred on the ‘All-American-Healthy-Low-Fat-diet.’ I’ve been taught from an early age to seek out non-fat milk or low-fat cheese. It made theoretical sense, right? If you want to lose weight (fat), then consume less fat. By the 1980’s low fat diets became mainstream; recommended by doctors, supported by the federal government and heavily advertised by the media and food industries. But think of that year, 1980- in reference to how many hundred of thousands of years humans have been around, we’ve only been consuming ‘low-fat diets’ for 40 years.

Let’s look back a bit further to the 1960’s when the leading cause of mortality in the United States was Coronary artery disease- a heart attack. Many studies were performed to analyze what was putting us Americans at risk for a heart attack, and strong correlation (as in the Framingham study) related cardiovascular risk to cholesterol and saturated fats. Notice that emphasized word, Saturated. There are many “good for you” fats. In fact, Fat is ESSENTIAL to include in your diet to be broken down into fatty acids that make cell linings and hormones. Our body requires twenty amino acids, and although our bodies can make amino acids, NINE essential amino acids need to be consumed daily. So let’s explain this easily,

Your body is either ‘Fat-Storing’ or ‘Fat-Burning’ at all times.

Now let’s get back to this new 1980’s philosophy of a ‘healthy American low-fat diet’. If we are consuming a low-fat diet, (Fat being essential for amino acids improving memory storage, controlling inflammation and regulating hormones) do you think our bodies are going to use that fat for energy or store it? Ding, ding, ding! That’s right, our bodies have been storing the limited amount of fat we’ve allowed it as a mechanism of survival. unsurprisingly, the prevalence of obesity from the 1980’s being about 8% of the population to today 42.4% of Americans are obese! Geez that’s 530% fold increase in obesity!

There are four types of fat, and they all relate to the length of carbon atoms or associated hydrogen atoms attached; in other words, just a bunch of science-y stuff. I’ll make it easy to remember, GOOD FAT: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. BAD FAT: Trans fat (now illegial in the US). FAT TO ENJOY IN MODERATION: Saturated fat. Take away point: eat high ‘good fat’ often. Two essential sources of essential fatty acids are Omega 3 and Omega 6. Food examples include nuts, flax seed, whole grains, legumes, dark green leafy vegetables, eggs and FATTY FISH- salmon, mackerel, tuna.

Protein

This macronutrient serves a vital role in many functions in our body, there’s only one catch: we don’t store protein for energy like we can with Fat and carbohydrates. Protein gives our tissues strength and structure with collagen, elastin, actin and myosin. Think beautiful, firm skin with strong muscles to run with… yep, I’ll take some of that! Protein also synthesizes enzymes and hormones, transport substances across cell membranes and defends against foreign pathogens. So eat your protein!

Carbohydrates

Carbs are the easiest source of energy for our bodies to convert to glucose. In fact, The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that carbohydrates should make up 45 to 65 percent of your total daily calories. This is based on the minimum amount of glucose utilized by the brain being about 130 grams. Here’s the page turner, In the absence of carbohydrates the body will use fat as a source of energy. Yup, mind=blown. Here Americans are trying to sustain a ‘low-fat diet’ for weight loss when we’ve had it backwards the past forty years. Eat high (good for you) fats, minimize your carbs and our bodies will use our own stored energy! As you may have also noticed in the diagram above, we get 9 kcals of energy for every gram of fat we consume as opposed to 4 kcal of energy per gram for protein and carbs. That’s double the amount of energy!

  • Fun Fact! Our bodies have stored fat, and for many of us in excess abundance. One pound of fat equates to about 3,600 calories of energy! When I run a half marathon my Runkeeper app says I burn about 1,000 calories, which means I theoretically could run 45 miles on just one pound of fat, and I have a few to spare! 😉

So that’s my spiel. I hope you join me in eating Clean food to fuel your run!

As always- Run strong, Travel and Eat. Real. Food. -We Run the States

The Content is not intended to be a substitute for your professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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