I remember the exact moment truly Understand the term “hitting the wall.” I was at mile 20 from New York City Marathon And taking another step seems impossible. I trained for over four months, so I was prepared both physically and mentally. But something let me down: my nutrition. It’s ironic because I’m a registered dietitian, and I studied sports nutrition in graduate school. But learning about sport and putting it into practice are two different things.
The thing that was emphasized in my studies is that sports nutrition is different from regular nutrition. Sports nutrition principles don’t always align with healthy eating guidelines. For example, sports drinks are vilified as sugar-sweetened beverages cause weight gainBut did you know that it’s actually formulated with a certain percentage of carbohydrates and electrolytes to keep athletes motivated with energy and moist? Sports drinks are not necessary for everyone and knowing when and how to include them in a fitness regime is just one of the nuances of sports nutrition.
I learned these principles during my marathon training in 2016, but I also fell victim to some common fueling mistakes. Since then, I have corrected my mistakes and run many successful races. I’ve also worked with hundreds of people (and He wrote a book on sports nutrition) to help as many athletes as possible avoid these common mistakes.
I didn’t plan on pre-workout fuel
The analogy often made in the world of sports nutrition is that the body is like a car and food is the fuel that makes it move. In other words, energy levels It is directly related to the amount of food you put in your system. carbohydrates It is the main energy source for the body to exercise. The body uses two types of carbohydrates for energy: dietary carbohydrates and carbohydrates stored in the muscles and liver (called glycogen).
Dietary carbohydrates are broken down within a few hours of eating protein And fats take longer to be digested. When eaten within 60 minutes of a workout, a carbohydrate-rich snack is the best fuel choice. But if you have 2-3 hours before your workout, a balanced meal with carbs, protein and a little bit of fat works just fine. That’s why I always say “what you eat depends on when you eat”.
through my marathon trainingI had to be at work very early in the morning, so I ran in the afternoon or evening. I depended on what I ate for lunch or Afternoon snack To force me through running. Sometimes I haven’t eaten in hours and started running with very little “gas in the tank”. Other times, I would eat foods that were technically healthy, but not good for fuel, like avocado Or a salad that had tons of fiber (more on that later), and my stomach felt unsteady during the entire round.
I could have avoided all these burning problems with proper planning of Snack before exercise 1-2 hours before running. Foods like bananas and dates granola Or a handful of raisins are simple snacks rich in carbohydrates that are quickly digested and provide energy for exercise.
I ignored the recovery nutrition
Looking back, this was the biggest refueling flaw. I’ve never run the required long distances with marathon training, so I didn’t know what to expect. After running my long training, I actually Wasn’t hungry. In fact, I felt a little nauseous in my stomach.
Believe it or not, this happens to many athletes. After intense exercise, the body stops producing a hormone called ghrelin, known as the “hunger hormone.” The result is less hunger after vigorous activity. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat anything.
Recovery nutrition is critical for several reasons: it restores glycogen (the body’s form of stored carbohydrates), and helps with muscle repair It helps control hunger. In the first 1-2 hours after exercise, the body begins to eat food to facilitate muscle protein synthesis, and this recovery continues for 24 hours.
Neglect of healing nutrition usually leads to excessive fatigue and hunger. This is what happened to me. Instead of eating within 1-2 hours after my run, I waited until my stomach felt normal and I was hungry enough to eat. but instead of feeling hungryI was a predator. My stomach was a deep hole and I ended up overeating. I was also tired in most of my training sessions, but I thought this was normal during marathon training. I now realize that fatigue may have been a sign of poor nutrition to recover.
Preventing this is simple: Eat some carbs and protein in the hour after your workout. If your stomach feels weird, choose a healing drink like chocolate milk or a plant-based protein drink. Having a little thing will make a big difference later on.
I lowered my sports drink
Sports drinks are a useful part of some training plans. After 45-60 minutes of endurance activity, the body needs to eat fast carbohydrates to maintain energy levels. Sports drinks provide these digestible carbohydrates and replace lost fluids and electrolytes Sweat. Additionally, most sports drinks are isotonic, which means they have similar levels of glucose and sodium in the body, so they can be quickly taken up into the bloodstream.
I’m not a big fan of tasting sports drinks. When I was training, I thought cutting out a sports drink with water would be just as effective at keeping me hydrated. But Sciences He states that a 6-8% carbohydrate concentration is ideal because it helps the body absorb fluids more quickly. By diluting my sports drink, I was lowering my energy levels and possibly dehydrating myself more.
I ate fiber at the wrong time
Don’t get me wrong, Fiber is a useful part of the diet Most Americans don’t eat enough of it on a daily basis. But eating high-fiber foods at the wrong time can wreak havoc on your stomach during training. for example, eat beans Eating lunch before your evening workout or cruciferous veggies the night before your intense morning workout may cause your digestive system to move faster than you want them to during your workout.
The constant movement of endurance activity gets your stomach moving and sends foods through your digestive system faster than usual. Other factors, such as hormones or dryingFood also moves through the digestive system during exercise. Pair these natural physiological factors with high-fiber foods, and you’ve got a recipe for cramps, blowing Stomach pain during exercise.
This doesn’t mean you can’t eat fibrous foods while training, but it’s probably safer to include them in your post-workout meals. Everyone reacts differently to different foods, so it’s all about trial and error in your energy-replenishing routine. Try certain foods to see how your stomach reacts to them.
As a dietitian, it’s embarrassing to admit some of these mistakes, especially since I do knows better. After all, I’ve been educated in the field and constantly read science to stay up to date with the latest guidelines. But it does show that every athlete (even the most enlightened!) makes mistakes with their training and fuel plans, and that’s okay. It’s about listening to your body, seeing if something isn’t working, and adjusting your routine accordingly. I’m really glad I made these mistakes so that I can learn and grow as a practitioner – and I hope to help others avoid these common pitfalls.