Nutrition For Runners

Good, Bad and Ugly Foods

The 6 week challenge that many LRs are on at the moment, has prompted some questions and I have found many of us have misconceptions about food and drink and what is good or bad…
So the tip this week is about what is good, not so good and down right ugly

Bread- Bread is OK, and the average aussie eats 6 slices a day (I think 2-4 is plenty). A standard roll is equivalent to 2 slices. However, as we know bread is now coming in all shapes, sizes and prices. The standard two slices are what we know from our school lunches, 2 flat, thin square slices of bread. Many of the brands now come thicker or so large they don’t even fit in the toaster, and often in those cases 1 slice is equal to 2 slices, if you get my drift. So take that into consideration when you plan your food intake. White bread is not good and never should be eaten, but the wholemeal, wholegrain, rye and sourdough are all good choices. By far the worst is Turkish bread and focaccia style breads, they are usually white and have a lot more fat content and double or more the calories of normal bread

Green Tea- Yes it is as great as they say lots of anti-oxidants, no calories, if taken without milk and sugar. It is my drink of choice; however, many people think of it as a herbal tea, it’s not. Green tea is a variety of tea and it has caffeine like all tea, however a bit of a lower count.The average caffeine count in a cup of green tea is from 15-40mgs and in black tea it averages at 40-80mgs per cup

Eggs- the poor egg has had an absolute battering over the past 10 years …but please believe me when I say eggs are good for you; they are a fantastic food source. You can safely eat 3 eggs a day, and yet the crazy egg scare has seen people reduce their egg intake to less than 3 per week. Eggs do not give you high cholesterol. If you do suffer from high cholesterol you will be told to cut back on foods and eggs may be one of those foods, but if you have no cholesterol issues, eating eggs will not give you a high reading. Body builders eat up to 20 eggs a day and it has been proven that It doesn’t increase their bad cholesterol count. The reason eggs are good for runners as they are high in protein and runners need that to repair their muscles. Another reason eggs are great is they fill you have scrambled eggs or a couple of poached eggs in the morning and I bet you are full until lunchtime. Like lots of food you prepare yourself if depends on how you cook them and what you put on or in them, but a small egg has only 37 calories and an extra large one has 85, and for goodness sake leave the egg yolk in, it’s the best bit!

Drinks- I think it’s the drinks we have that are one of the biggest problems with excess sugar intake and in turn excess calories and society’s obesity problems. A drink is never really considered a meal or even a snack (unless it is a smoothie) and we tend not to count them in our daily intake of calories or even just food intake. There are so many drinks out there now, but basically they are all the same, high in sugar and empty calories. And I know you are going to tell me that you have the low cal or zero drinks, but I think it still feeds your craving for sugar and in turn keeps you wanting more sweet stuff. I know I recommend the sports drinks when training, because I think they contain all the right elements to replace what you lose when running and working out, but they should only be consumed before of after a run or when carb loading for a big event like half or full marathon and at no other time. I see kids drinking them on their way to school or people just having them with their lunch, like a normal drink…and all that means is they are just consuming lots of sugar and carbs that they are probably not going to use or burn off over the day.

And it’s not just the sports drink its all these wonderful new trendy juices that are out there, that claim to be worth 2-3 servings of fruit or 2-3 servings of vegies, they don’t tell you they probably also have 10-20 servings of sugar as well. If you want 2-3 servings of fruit... eat it, don’t drink it. It will be healthier for you, it will fill you and it will probably be less calories. I say drink water, and eat food.

Chocolate- is it the new be all and end all wonder food that is so good for you can eat it by the bucket? or is it just wishful thinking by all the chocolate lovers around the world? The fact is Cocoa (the basics of all milk or dark chocolate, not white chocolate) has flavonoids and they are anti oxidants that are good for us

One study that compared the total antioxidant activity in single servings of cocoa, green tea, black tea and red wine scored cocoa markedly higher than the rest.

But be aware fruit and vegies have flavonoids as well that are good for you and would have less calories…yeah I hear you, they don’t taste as good though

The flavonoids in chocolate are called flavanols and procyanidins and they have a powerful anti oxidant affect. When you consume these substances in chocolate and cocoa, the antioxidant status of your blood increases.

This rise in antioxidant levels helps protect us from damage to the heart and blood vessels, while it also guards our DNA from damage that can lead to cancer.

In addition, the flavanols and procyanidins in chocolate improve the function and flow of blood vessels and help control inflammation.

The more cocoa in your chocolate the more anti oxidants, that is why dark chocolate is classed as better, but it is still in milk chocolate. You may think an easy way to get the benefits are drink hot cocoa every night, but that doesn’t work, the cocoa we use for drinking chocolate is usually the Dutch type and the processing of it strips the good flavonoids out

Chocolate like eggs does not cause high cholesterol as the good fats in it do not affect those levels, however, the sugar and excess eating of it can affect those levels and like eggs if your cholesterol was high you would need to look at your chocolate intake. A small piece of dark chocolate is about 50 calories, but most chocolate bars are over 200 calories and usually have more stuff added and not just chocolate.

And is chocolate addictive?…like us chocoholics claim it to be...most scientists say no…it does contain things that make us feel good, warm and fuzzy...but it does not have addictive agents…so we do have control over how often and how much we eat it! We like the taste and we crave it and we feel better when we eat it, but all those things are not considered an addiction.

Meat – Unless you are a vegetarian and have real issues with eating baby animals, or its against your religion to eat certain types of meat….then eat  meat. Meat is good for you, all meat..Lamp, Beef, Pork, Kangaroo, mince meats, offal the whole lot…all good if you buy it right and prepare it right. You need to buy it fresh and trim the fat…if you see fat trim it off. If you are buying mince you can usually see the white fatty content, I find when buying mince you should choose the high quality grade, it may be dearer but overall it is still a cheap meal. Once again it’s not the actual piece of meat that’s bad it is often the serving sizes or what we put on top of it. Most people have too large a serve, you see steaks in restaurant that cover half the plate….that is probably 2-3 servings.  A Serve of steak or any other meat should be the size of the palm of your hand and about a third of what is on your plate. Creamy sauces are the things that are fattening, so go for tomato sauces and toppings. If you are having a roast the serving should be two slices of meat. The main problem with meat is buying it out and not preparing it yourself…you have no idea what sort of meat is going into the hamburgers you buy or how your meat is prepared or cooked when you order out, but at home you have lots of control, so buy it and cook it.

Red meat is a source of Iron. Red meat also contains protein, levels of creatine, minerals such as zinc and phosphorus, and vitamins such as niacin, vitamin B12, thiamin and riboflavin. Red meat is the richest source of Alpha Lipoic Acid, a powerful antioxidant.



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