Mitchum Q&A 2: Nutrition for Runners - Eating for Success

Hi all,

This lunchtime (1-2pm) we're joined by nutritionist Glen Kearney who'll be answering your questions about training and racing nutrition.

We're opening the discussion now Glen so can get stuck in straight away at 1pm (rather than having to deal with too many questions all at once). But that's enough from me - time for your questions!

Alice

Comments

  • First question, perhaps?

     Anyway, could Glen talk us through carb-loading: how useful is it, and perhaps most importantly, should I be carb-loading for longer (10-15 miles) training runs as well as races?

  • Hi.what are the best foods leading upto a race...when would you suggest eating prior to a race...what are the best energy foods!
  • Afternoon Glen,
    what is the current thinking about including some protein in with carbohydrates when fuelling during racing? 

    Thanks.

  • I usually run very early in the morning and can really face anything to eat before hand. Is eating carbs for my meal the night before enough, or should I try to eat again in the morning? If I should eat in the morning, what can I eat that's easily digestible?
  • I usually train mid-afternoon (3ish) after I've finished work but this is when my energy dips badly. I eat my granary bread sandwich at about 12.30 and an apple and I've tried eating a banana about 45 mins beforehand but this doesn't seem to help. Any suggestions for light snack after lunch to boost energy levels?
  • Hi Glen! Question: I've heard it can be good to train on an empty stomach in the mornings...is this true?
  • Hi various people have told me that a couple of pints of guiness a week is good for you .
    Is this true ?
  • Hi there - can you confirm what the window of opportunity is after training for taking on protein - have heard 90mins to 2hrs? And how much protein should you have per kg of body weight?

  • Hi - is there any foods you can eat that can help injuries partically calf muscles? Also, what qualifications do you need to take to be a nutritionalist as it is something I would be interested in studying for.  Kind Regards

  • Hi - are there any foods you can eat that can help injuries partically calf muscles? Also, what qualifications do you need to take to be a nutritionalist as it is something I would be interested in studying for.  Kind Regards

  • Afternoon! Just a quick intro I'm Glenn Kearney nutritionist for UK Athletics amongst others.

    Thanks for all the questions, I hope you fund my answers useful, they are not the gospel but hopefully I can share my experience of working in sports nutrition for 20 years! I just thought I would kick off with some basic tips that should form the basis for your training before answering individual questions!

    GK

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  • Whoops not sure what happened there!

    The first thing that to stress is that it is vitally important to get the basics right when it comes to running,  nutrition without regular, wholesome meals with the correct balance protein, carbohydrates and the right kind of fats, you body won’t be able to extract everything that it needs for optimum recovery. Without getting the basics right, there is no amount of pills or potions that will improve performance.

    Testing on all top UK athletes last year has showed that most were iron deficient. Iron is found in red blood cells and is important in the efficient transport of oxygen from the lungs to the muscles. I recommend that all runners eat one red meat meal a week along with regular consumption of high iron foods such as spinach.

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  • Sorry not sure what is happening sorry!

    In answer to Emma Rowland's question.

    No it's not good to run on an empty stomach nutrition without regular, wholesome meals with the correct balance protein, carbohydrates and the right kind of fats, you body won’t be able to extract everything that it needs for optimum recovery.

    I would suggest 3 main meals with 3 snack periods in between.  Eating white meat before bed aids your recovery so that's something to think about.

  • geordieben: Great question about whether Guisness is good for you!

    I'm a firm believer in that you should eat the correct food and drink 90% of the time and let your hair down 10% of the time.  So if that's having a beer or going out for a meal with friends then so be it.  Otherwise being an athlete would be a nightmare!

  • Re. Ian Johnston 9 - eating meals in the morning.  This might also apply to Emma Rowland.

    A couple of examples for a nutrititionist breakfast would be one hot or one cold.

    The cold choice would be museli with money, natural yoghurt and dried fruit.

    The hot choice would be omelette made out of one egg yolk and two eggs whites along with spinach.

    So hopefully you could have something small to get you going.  Re. the night before if you eat white before you go to bed this helps muscle growth and recovery and will help you in the morning.

  • Re. Ian Johnston 9 - something little to try

    Cereal bars are a bad choice (they have hidden preservatives and have no nutritional benefits). Instead try some protein and carbohydrate bars before and after training. These are also useful after heard training sessions. 

  • Hi,

     I've tried using gels when running, but can't stand the taste.  Are jelly beans an appropriate alternative?  If so how many??

    Siobhan

  • si1 183 - pre race meal

    There is no best day race meal.  The goal of eating the right pre-race meals is to maximise your ability to perform, this can be attained if you follow the points below:

    1. Fuel your muscles sufficiently - this is optimised by eating some carb-dominated meals in the 48 hours in the lead up to the race. Pasta is an obvious choice but avoid white bread as it does not have any nutritional benefit.

    2. Maintain your blood sugar level, this is for a burst of energy for the shorter events and for sustained energy in the longer events. The best way of doing this is to eat a small meal/snack several hours before you race so it can be absorbed into your system. Avoid fatty food at all costs. Museli or fish would do the trick.

  • Siobhan - Jelly beans

    I'm not a massive fan of jelly beans especially using them as pat of your diet.  However, for races they are cheal and portable and they do give a great energy boost during, for amounts  I would suggest 15 every hour, that should be plenty.

  • Could you suggest an appropriate iron-rich diet for vegetarian runners?
  • Thanks for your replies but just another question! I tend to make up smoothies using a banana, kiwi or blueberries, a low fat yoghurt, oats and ground almonds. As these are well blended can I get away with having this an hour or so before I start running or do I still need to wait 2 hours?
  • Yvonne Turner 2 - calf injuries

    You should not be taking glutamine products as this have been linked to long-term muscle problems. Instead you should make sure you contain pineapple in your diet.  This has been proven to be high in protein-digesting enzyme called Bromelain which reduces soreness and inflammation in muscles and tendons.  I hope that helps!

    For becoming a nutritionist.  You need to become a member of the nutrition society, this requires a few post-graduation experience.  You will need to study nutrition/dietetics at university beforehand which takes about 4 years.  My main advice would be get some work experience and get used to the terms and the basis of health eating and nutrition.  Good luck!

  • Ian - if you're running in the morning and have eated suitably the night before you can get away with one hour before. It's not ideal but gives some time to digest before you start.
  • Thank you once again! You have been very helpful.
  • Dave - I can suggest some iron-rich foods which you should incorporate into your meais.

    Spinach, cooked soyabeans, tofu, lentils, museli, rice, eggs and vegetables.  My advice is always eat as close to nature as possible - eat as many foods which would spoil if you left them out for 2-3 days.

    Another bit of advice would be to eat as much fish as possible ... in addition the one supplement you could take is Omega three.

  • Dan E - carb loading before training. 

    Yes and no. 

    Yes because as it's good to know what food works best for you and to fine-tune your pre-race meal.  No because eating a large meal places adds additional stress on the body if not given enough time.

    The situaton can be easily resolved if you give longer for the carb-rich meal longer to digest by having it two days before a long-run or race, allowing time for digestion and re-stocking of glycogen stores. The followig morning eat a nutritionial breakfast (see my previous replies) eat a moderate lunch followed by a lighter/long race dinner. The dinner should include carbs and a small amount of protein and fat. Something like a low-fat homemade vegetable soup and some whol-grain bread.

     This should help you to be well fuelled for both your races and your longer runs.  

  • Re: carb loading

    does it have to be wholemeal pasta to have any real benefit or is regular pasta ok?

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