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Daily Nutrition

When asked to share nutritional advice I typically turn to these time-tested truisms:  

Increase activity level = increase resting metabolic rate.  Ironically, the less I run, the more I eat.  Whereas, the more I run (particularly if I am running more than once a day) the less I eat because I am either running, preparing to run, or not ready to eat a complete meal because my stomach is still settling from a hard workout.  If you are working out once a day, consider adding a second workout.  If you have the flexibility to determine when you workout morning is always preferable (it gets the metabolism running and keeps your resting metabolism higher all day).

Get out early and start moving.
Eat for fuel, not for taste. Due to the instinct to turn to the the first thing I see, I like to stock my fridge, cupboards, backpack, and desk with healthy foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, high fiber grains, Greek yogurt, etc.).  If I am able to curb my appetite with light, power-packed foods rather than artificially sweetened alternatives I feel better, sleep better, and usually perform better.  

Keep it simple.  Photo by Ashley Bennett Belka

Never fill up where you fuel up your car.  The garbage-in-garbage-out philosophy applies to convenience stores and gas stations.  Most items sold at these places are high in fat, sugar, and preservatives.  They do not constitute a meal and should be avoided.

Breakfast is HUGE!  Another way to get your metabolism fired up is to consume a major portion of daily caloric intake within the first hour you are awake (Racing Weight, Fitzgerald).  Rather than wasting those calories on empty calories like coffee sweeteners or cream, make breakfast a powerful meal.  It doesn't have to be complicated, but I feel that when I fill up on a balance of fruit, protein, and fiber I have the energy and stamina I need to get me through the morning (and it usually works its way out of the system by the time I work out in the afternoon).  

I eat three commons breakfasts to supply me with energy and nutrients I need to get me through the day:

1). My Health Eats Oat Pro 3 with blueberries, almonds, and almond milk with a glass of orange juice.

2). Greek Yogurt Parfait: 1 apple, 1 cup non-fat, unsweetened Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup granola, 1/4 cup blueberries, 1 tbs flax seed and/or chia seeds, hand full of Craisins, and a glass of orange juice.  

3). Omelette: Four eggs, spinach, ham, bacon, and cheese drowned in tomatillo salsa.

This is a lot of food, but it is packed with protein, fiber, and healthy carbs. It also keeps me full until it is time to eat a simple lunch a few hours later.    

Eat like the rest of humanity.  Just because we live in a world of plenty with fast food and pre-packaged morsels does not mean we have to buy into it.  In fact, most of the world doesn't.  Most of the world still lives off simple grains and legumes.  Look at the list of the best runners in the world and ask yourself how often they eat Big Macs or visit their neighborhood Starbucks.  

The truth is, most of them live in places where subsistence farming and horticulture are still the norm. They eat beans, lentils, rice, corn meal, ugale and Chia.  To these staples are added fresh fruits and vegetables. When meat is available and affordable, it becomes more of a side rather than the main dish.  In most cases, the bulk of the protein comes from milk and a combination of cereal grains and legumes.  Anything you eat with this stuff will work it's way out in short order, but not before your body absorbs the much needed iron and fiber that they provide.  

Fill up on nutrient rich soups and salads.  Due to the low fat, high nutrient ratio of most fruits and vegetables it is possible to eat a lot more of them (in volume, not calories) than high-fat meats, high-fat dairy products, and pastries.  By filling up on fresh fruits and veggies either alone or in soups or salads it makes it less likely to overeat less healthy foods.     

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup: Photo by Anna Lee Landin

Fill up on fresh greens.  Photo by Anna Lee Landin

Reward yourself with a healthy high protein, post work-out/race meal.  When I know I have a big race or workout coming up, I like to know that I am prepared for it.  One way I like to gear up is by preparing for the recovery.  As an incentive to push through the doubts and pains while hitting  my paces or covering the distance I like to know what I'll be eating afterward.  It can be as simple as knowing I have a bottle of Ultragen or a tube of Trail Butter awaiting me in my car or bag, or it might be something more like fish tacos or steak fajitas waiting at home for dinner. Occasionally, it might even mean I reward myself with dark chocolate and sea salt covered almonds for dessert. 

These incentives work for me because I know that they will taste so much better knowing that I earned them than they would if I had eaten a treat or drank a soda an hour earlier and I'm simply eating because I have nothing better to do.  

These are some of the things that work for me.  When in doubt, don't eat it (or be willing to run the extra miles before and after to make up for it).  


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