Running Fuel for Thought

Aligned Modern Health and Fleet Feet Sports are in the middle of a summer series of nutritional seminars designed to cover various ways that food fuels your body. Running once a month until September, this series will help you better understand how the items you take in help you perform to the next level not only during training, but during race day.

During the series, you will get a chance to meet Aligned Modern Health’s Functional Medicine team who will guide you through a holistic and nutritional approach to improving your overall health as an athlete.

The first seminar focused on reading nutritional labels and understanding the ingredients in the food that you eat every day. Aligned Modern Health’s Registered Dietitian, Olivia Wagner, was the speaker at the first seminar. In case you missed it, here are some top takeaways:

  1. Choose foods that are nutrient-dense. Starting off by talking about how the body breaks down food for energy or for storage, Olivia says that in order to have more energy, choose foods that are nutrient-dense. Foods rich in protein will help with muscular growth and repair; carbohydrate-rich foods help with energy; and if you have a lack of fats in your diet, “hormones aren’t going to be at the concentration level they should be for optimal health and athletic performance.” Wagner advised to choose anti-inflammatory ingredients to help with memory, learning, sleep, immune system and training recovery.
  2. Ask yourself, is it farm or factory and on P.A.R.? Wagner’s seminar then went into reading nutrition labels, which consist of the ingredient label and nutrition facts panel. Wagner explained that ingredients are listed in descending order and also may include the product’s known allergens. She said to “Choose products where at least 75 percent of the ingredients are naturally occurring and appropriate for that food item. Ask yourself, farm or factory?” Then, using the PAR approach, look for ingredients that are Pronounceable, Appropriate for the food product and Recognized as a whole food ingredient.
  3. Do this, not that. Aligned Modern Health recommends avoiding ingredients such as artificial sweeteners, monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium nitrates, corn sugar and hydrogenated oils. Wagner says to reduce inflammation and immune health, athletes should include turmeric; tart cherries; acai berries; sunflower seeds; raw cacao; chia and flax seed; beets and beet juice; green tea; walnuts and egg. Additionally, if you are going to purchase supplements, always buy from a physician, trusted store or recommended online supplement distribution site.
  4. Shopping during training season. The seminar continued onto the topic of what to buy/cook during training season. Wagner suggested using whole food ingredient sources such as beans, wild-caught fish, grass-fed collagen, grass-fed whey and full fat, organic rBGH-free dairy. Carbohydrate-rich foods include 100 percent whole grain, whole fruits, dried fruit and starchy vegetables, while recommended fats include avocado, unrefined oils, coconut and olives. If you want more fiber? Try good old-fashioned fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds.
  5. Make your meal plans a part of your game plan. Finally, Wagner discussed nutrition plans to try out during training. One hour before exercising, Wagner suggests eating 15 to 25 grams of carbohydrates via a small apple or banana, cup of sliced fruit, a small baked potato, 20 grapes or 12 to 16 oz. of coconut water. While exercising, 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates are recommended. Try eating two dates, one small pack of raisins or one sports gel. For the full boost of 60 grams, try 8 oz. baby red potatoes roasted with sea salt, packed in foil or a half mashed sweet potato, with sea salt (in a plastic baggie, rip off the edge to squeeze out).

Wagner emphasizes that each person's nutrition recommendations will vary based on training intensity, temperature, sweat rate, individual metabolic needs and individual digestive tolerance. For personalized nutrition support, Fleet Feet Sports recommends reaching out to Aligned Modern Health to figure out your best nutrition menu. Upcoming seminars include: August: Hydration and Recovery, and September: GI dysfunction in the Runner.

Visit Aligned Modern Health to learn more about Functional Medicine and Nutrition while training and to or schedule a complimentary appointment.

Click through to RSVP for the next Nutrition class with Fleet Feet and Aligned Modern Health!