Nutrition webchat this Friday

This Friday March 1 at 12 - 1pm here on the forum ASICS Pro Team Nutritionist Ruth McKean will be joining us to talk about nutrition strategies in the lead up to a marathon.

If you're struggling with fuelling just before your long runs, can't get your head around the different energy gels on the market, or need advice on hydration, Ruth will be on hand to help.

Join us 12pm - 1pm on Friday, or post your questions in advance below.

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Comments

  • Hi Ruth,

    I’m in week 8 of an 18 week marathon training plan.  My marathon is in May.  I managed to find a plan which I can hit most sessions, despite being away from home 12-14 hours a day during the week. As a result, 2 of the ‘quality’ sessions are done on Saturday and Sunday.  Saturday is typically race pace miles (this will be getting up to 8 miles in the coming weeks), and Sunday is a long slow run, designed to be on tired legs, after the fast work on Saturday.  In various of your posts, and in general, nutritional advice centres around eating to match your exercise, however, I actually find I am most hungry on the days I’m not running (Friday and Monday).  In effect I have to do a carbo load before each weekend to manage these sessions.  This weekend it was 7 miles race pace, followed by 14 mile LSR on Sunday.  I’m taking electrolyte drinks and energy gels for the long runs, but what advice would you have for eating for the rest of the day, so that I can still do other things.  I do like to lay around recovering, but I don’t think I should take more than 90 minutes on this!  And would you recommend I stick to my Friday carbo load?

     Thanks,

    Angela

  • I'm running 2-2.5hrs long runs on Sunday and struggling to keep my energy up - gels make me retch as I haven't got a sweet tooth. I find I am so distracted by feeling sick that i can't run as well & feel demoralised. I have tried quite a range and although a few of them I can manage tokeep one sachet down, any more & that feeling returns. Is there any other more natural or less sweet options you know of that I could try image

  • i echo some of william brown comments but i would like some info on the lead up to a first marathon say the week before what to eat and drink and because you are on a rest week do you downsize your portions or eat more to build up for the race.....

    Also 'normal' foods to eat during a marathon would be useful, i plan for malt loaf, banana etc but any ideas would be good....

    Many thanks

     

  • Hi Ruth



    Am having trouble knowing if im eating enough. What should my daily calorie intake be whilst marathon training I don't know if this helps you answer but I'm 36, 5ft 4inch and weigh 8 stone. I'm currently running 45+ miles, 5 times a week. I'm also a busy mum of two small girls so don't tend to sit down much!



    Thanks for your advice



    Katy
  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭

    Hi Ruth,

    I'm looking for some advice. I've recently being diagnosed with the following intollerances: Cows Milk, Peanuts, white sugar (any refined sugar). I'm in the process of getting a second opinion but in the meantime - can you suggest any gels or anything that I can eat on long runs if refined sugar is out? Maltodextrose is in EVERY gel that I can find.

    I've heard some good things about Beetroot juice - would you recommend this?

    Do you think it's wise for a serial marathon runner to avoid cows milk for calcium?

  • I echo what William says,   Simple and healthy and inexpensinve.,

  • MinniMinni ✭✭✭
    Hi Ruth,



    I read the advice you were giving to the Asics crew regarding carbon loading for their half marathon with a view to using the same strategy over two days before the marathon. It seemed you were suggesting a lot of food but on the day it really seemed to help them - I think they said as much themselves.



    It was interesting the foods you suggested using and those to avoid and recommendations on keeping the correct balance of carbs/protein/fat.



    Is it possible for you to summarise this here along with the amount of carbs needed. (I'm about 115lb).



    Also, when it comes to gels in the marathon, how many would you recommend and at what time? I usually take me first one at 13-14 miles but in my last marathon took the first one at 7 miles (a friend marshalling passed it to me at this point) and I actually think this was better.



    Sorry that's a lot! Thanks.
  • It's as simple as a big pasta meal with some garlic bread on a Saturday night, a bowl of porridge & honey 2 hours before my long run Sunday morning and I'm good to go for a 2 & half hour 20 miler with just a 500ml bottle of water to keep me going on the way round.

    Gels / drinks / sachets / fuels etc are all a fad and convenience for not preparing in advance. What do you think they did in the days of a few cups of water around the London marathon course?!

    Build up your miles and prepare in advance and your body will soon adapt. 

  • Interesting comments Alscott78!

    The last time I heard that (gels etc) was from a senior runner (like me) at Mile 9 of a HM just as I was taking a 2nd gel......

    I beat him by 4 mins at the finish - how does that work again?

    Horses for courses (maybe not an apt phrase at the moment) - but I start my dietary preparations for an "A" race on Wednesday evening, not the night before! 

  • MinniMinni ✭✭✭

    Haha Aliscott - I'll beat that - meal the night before, no breakfast and just water keeps me going. image  However, I am interested to read Ruth's more professional view on carbo loading.

  • Personally I prefer to eat Jelly Babies running but it is a personal choice.

  • 2 gels by 9 miles? Really?



    Level with 4 miles to go and finished 4 minutes ahead of him says poor training on his part than you winning with gels! Or did you run the last 4 a minute per mile quicker than your average pace before then? I doubt it..



    I'm not against gels, i use them myself for marathons only but never see them as a shortcut to proper nutrition and carbo loading.
  • Aliscott78 - let's agree that proper nutrition with carb loading and the correct use of gels is the way to go.

    My avg pace was 6:53min/m with last three at 6:51; 6:37; 6:30 - gel effect or not, I think they work for me

  • Afternoon all!

    Thank you for all your posts, I will do my very best to answer all questions.

    Ruth

  • William Brown 7 wrote (see)
    I'd be interested in nutrition for the ordinary person on an ordinary wage with wife
    /husband and kids. Too many suggestions these days involve fancy new age foods like quinoa or exotic berries not to mention expensive ones like avocados and (tastless) chicken breasts.

    Have you seen the price of gels or nutrition bars these days were not ALL on football star wages ya know!

    Thanks for your post. There is some basic nutrition principles that you need to consider to perform well and stay healthy (not just for the short term but also long term health). A good diet will help support consistent intensive training (that marathon training usually requires!) while at the same time reducing risk of illness, &  good recovery from training can also help promotes adaptations to training (i.e. changes that happen when you change than make you fitter or able to run for longer etc). My job is often to get the basics right in someone’s diet and often I manipulate energy intake to achieve certain goals such reducing body fat levels or improving recovery etc. To do any of these things you do not need to include expensive foods.

    So consider the basics you need. The base of all meals should contain carbohydrates and in an ideal  world should be mostly wholegrain versions so wholegrain pasta, rice, cereals or other carbs such as potatoes (all varieties are fine) and bread (homemade can be cheaper and easy if already have bread machine). Quinoa is not new age it is just more traditional in other countries and due to the word getting smaller in terms of trade we start to see these foods in the UK but these are a choice but not needed nor is a diet necessarily better for having these foods in it as that will depend on bigger picture of someone’s diet.

    The next food you need to think about in a meal is protein: you have the obviously ones such as meat, fish, eggs, cheese but you do not need to eat meat or fish every day, so cheap options are lentils & other pluses such as beans. You only need to eat up to 2 portions of fish per week (up to 4 if heart problems) one of which should be oily (mackerel, salmon, sardines/pilchards, trout). You can buy these can quite cheaper or vacuum packed you are still getting the fish oils.

    Then you must consider colour in your meals – your vegetables (or fruit but always try and get a decent about of veggies in meals) and try and use a variety the more varieties the bigger the range of vitamins & mineral your body will get. Frozen is cheaper and could actually be fresher than any supermarket varieties & buy what is in season.

    The price of food  has gone up but if you plan your meals and avoid buying to many extras such as  chocolates, 2 for 1 offers you don’t need  or you are just buying as they are 2 for 1  but not good for your health etc People can feel it is too much hassle to meal plan (and you may not be one of these people) BUT you can save a lot of money by planning meals and probably eat better and use the principle cook once eat twice (freeze the extra). A tin or carton of chopped tomatoes (can get for as little as 35p) with some herbs and garlic can make a sauce that can feed a family without the salt content etc. Fat is important in your diet but a little oil (olive sunflower, linseed, rapeseed etc ) is a great source as is your oily fish (oily fish also has vitamins D in it)

    Recovery foods post run can be a bowl of cereal and milk - its perfect as a recovery food. It has the protein & carbs. Drink water for fluid replacement as salt from food will help with the fluid replacement

  • .contined from above

    ...  fluid replacement. These foods advertised as super foods such as berries are very high in antioxidants (and they are to be fair) but if you eat at least 5 but ideally more of other brightly coloured fruit and veg and have a good mix/variety of these then you will get a good source of antioxidants (although you can buy berries frozen and could add to natural yogurt etc). I think if you plan you can eat on a budget and not waste foods then you have to spend time on planning.

    Gels: the convenience of gels  for some is the ease digestion, they are compact, stay fresh in foil and only ned one gel for say 5 jelly babies and this is probably what makes them popular and of course the marketing,  but they are no different to eating  jelly sweets if you work out the carbs to be the  same . If smaller jelly sweets such as jelly beans you have to eat a lot to match a gel. In hot marathons sweets can get very sticky or in cold condition harder to chew. Some people find out what gels suit them then rarely use these until marathon day but jelly sweets are also fine! Work out the pros and cons for you

    So look past the marketing and really see what  needs to go in your trolley to make simple inexpensive meals.

  • Angela Isherwood 2 wrote (see)

    Hi Ruth,

    I’m in week 8 of an 18 week marathon training plan.  My marathon is in May.  I managed to find a plan which I can hit most sessions, despite being away from home 12-14 hours a day during the week. As a result, 2 of the ‘quality’ sessions are done on Saturday and Sunday.  Saturday is typically race pace miles (this will be getting up to 8 miles in the coming weeks), and Sunday is a long slow run, designed to be on tired legs, after the fast work on Saturday.  In various of your posts, and in general, nutritional advice centres around eating to match your exercise, however, I actually find I am most hungry on the days I’m not running (Friday and Monday).  In effect I have to do a carbo load before each weekend to manage these sessions.  This weekend it was 7 miles race pace, followed by 14 mile LSR on Sunday.  I’m taking electrolyte drinks and energy gels for the long runs, but what advice would you have for eating for the rest of the day, so that I can still do other things.  I do like to lay around recovering, but I don’t think I should take more than 90 minutes on this!  And would you recommend I stick to my Friday carbo load?

     Thanks,

    Angela

     

    Hi Angela

    Many thanks for your question. Well done on the motivation to train when you work such long hours!

    Because you are doing the 2 sessions back to back I would say yes, do increase food on the Friday and be very sharp on your recovery during the weekend. So after you race pace session ensure you eat at least 50g of carbs as soon as you can post run as well as 10-20g of protein  so this could be ; 500ml low fat of milkshake (supermarket own brand or otherwise) but this would be around 50g carbs and 19g protein or nesquik power and 400ml skimmed milk would have around  50g carbs and 14 g protein or have 60g bowl of cereal and 250ml milk (58g carbs and 18g protein) or cottage cheese sandwich on 2 thick slices of bread and a 150g pot of yoghurt (49g carbs and 30g protein) or bean on toast, ½ can on two thick sliced bread (60g carb and 19g protein) . Include fluid as well water or fruit juice diluted 1/4 with water. Suggest no more than 500ml immediately post run – bladder can only hold so much!  then  sip on water/ fluid little and often throughout the day. Then 2 hours later a further snack or meal. On The Saturday and Sunday increase supper a little so before bed some toast and honey or bowl of cereal.

    I would only use you drinks and gels on runs longer than 90minutes so yes on a 14mile run this would be wise especially after a session the day before.

    Ice bath after Saturday & Sunday may also help a lot with the legs – I know not nutrition but try it if you can!

    Best of luck in May and I do hope this advice helps.

  • Sarah Blunt 2 wrote (see)

    I'm running 2-2.5hrs long runs on Sunday and struggling to keep my energy up - gels make me retch as I haven't got a sweet tooth. I find I am so distracted by feeling sick that i can't run as well & feel demoralised. I have tried quite a range and although a few of them I can manage tokeep one sachet down, any more & that feeling returns. Is there any other more natural or less sweet options you know of that I could try image

    I know a very good runner that has raisons during a marathon with no problem but they are sweet. Have you tried drip feeding some jelly sweets, say-2 sweets every 10minutes as the drip feeding can work better for some feeling sick? I do know people that use rice krispie bars, malt loaf  and even flapjacks but  stomach issues can be a problem and a flapjack is not an easily digested food at all and not one I would recommend but the point being they appear to work for that individual with no energy issues. I do think the drip feeding may be your best option? You could try the more natural sweets that are made with fruit juice. Keep trying different things but drip feed would be my first suggestion.

  • Should add, even sweets made from fruit juice or not a healthy option for day to day consumption!

  • LeeBJames wrote (see)

    Timely post. I have started cramping around 14/15 miles on the long runs. Lots of advice from fellow club runners about hydration, carbs, gels and electrolytes.

    I weigh just over 200 pounds, do I need more fuel than say a 168 pounder.

    My pace is a pretty solid 9:30min mile in training.

    Hi LeeBJames

    Although in some occasions I do think  fluid is partly or a  cause of cramp in many runners I do not think this is always the case infact not likely in many runners. Exercise Associated Muscle Cramps (cramps that only occur during exercise) and most commonly occur in the in calf for runner and can just twinge to being very very painful. This occurs when the muscle involuntary contracts and does not relax.  It is thought this is due to unusual stimulation of the muscle but really the exact cause is not known (sorry cut & paste form other post of mine). However cramp occurs more readily in tired muscles (i.e at 14/15miles into a run!) and therefore if only occurring in races or when upping miles in long runs it may be lack  of your muscles able to cope with the exercise at this stage of the race and often something has to change in training for example at end of very long runs putting in race pace efforts when muscles tired. If you are coached then speak to your coach about this.  I don’t think this is nutrition related as although hydration (dehydration) has been associated as a possible cause of these cramps (as i have mentioned) but in fact the evidence is not that strong to support this although those that are exceptionally sweaty individual with other factors are perhaps more likely to cramp. You may also have heard that cramp is linked to the loss of potassium, calcium and magnesium but this has very little support as there is little of these lost in sweat. I would say that if you do not fuel well before these races or long runs that might also increase chance as under fuelling will mean muscles will fatigue earlier than they might so. So if running more than 90mins perhaps sufficient   fluid /fuel along the way may be useful.  You may find that your overall weight also may play a part in this. Some runners have very muscular builds or too much body fat and perhaps this is too much of a load on the body.

    Some suggestions to reduce risk of cramp are as follows:

    • Stronger & fitter muscles are more resilient to fatigue and hence cramp so may need to work on strength and fitness
      • Be very careful when changing speed/ intensity particularly during the later stages of a race.  Fatigued muscles take longer to adapt to increased intensity.
    • Wear comfortable, unrestrictive clothing and footwear.
      Practice good hydration practices both before and during exercise so perhaps you could try using a electrolyte drink (sip on this the morning before a race so nuun, high five zero, SIS Super hydro  and even 500ml in the evening before race but I am not convince this will be the issue or certainly not the only one. .

    I really hope this helps.

  • Nose NowtNose Nowt ✭✭✭

    Hello Ruth,

    Some athletes... notably Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, have famously moved to gluten free diets - despite not being "gluten intolerant"...  with apparently startling effects.    I have 3 questions on this subject.

    1/ In a sentence or two, how does this help someone who is not gluten intolerant?

    2/ If you're going "gluten-free", do you believe that you get 90% of the benefit if you cut out 90% of your gluten?   Or is it one of those things that you really need to virtually eliminate in order to gain much benefit?

    3/ Is there some way of finding out how much gluten is in consumer products?  For example, normal porridge oats and many rice-based snacks often say "contains gluten" on the back of the pack. But I expect that the gluten content in such products would be very small (but they obviously have to declare it as an allergen).   My motivation here is that, if I'm not actually gluten intolerant, I don't want to pay triple the price for "gluten-free" versions of porridge, just to eliminate the last traces.

    Any guidance would be welcome (though I recognise that this is a bit of a niche question)

     

  • Bart Everton wrote (see)

    i echo some of william brown comments but i would like some info on the lead up to a first marathon say the week before what to eat and drink and because you are on a rest week do you downsize your portions or eat more to build up for the race.....

    Also 'normal' foods to eat during a marathon would be useful, i plan for malt loaf, banana etc but any ideas would be good....

    Many thanks

     

    I would suggest you eat as you normally do with the exception of cutting down/out on extras such as biscuits, chocolate, desserts, and even reduce portion sizes a little for days 7, 6, 5, 4 before marathon &  perhaps even for day 3  then for day 2 &1  before marathon I would mostly eat carbs so cut right down on protein in meals (fish, meat, pulses, eggs etc ) and all fatty foods so for example it may look like this for a 70kg athlete :

    Breakfast: 60g cereal with 200ml of skimmed milk, 2 slices of bread with jam or honey  or 500ml of a low fat milkshake  & 150ml fruit juice

    Snack: 550ml fruit squash (full sugar varieties) with large banana and 4 jaffa cakes

    Lunch: baked potato with beans and 50g dried fruit.

    Snack (afternoon): 400ml fruit squash & bagel with jam or honey

    Evening meal : Pasta (100-120g dried weight) with tomato based sauce , 500ml fruit squash or 500ml fruit juice  and scoop of frozen yoghurt

    Before bed: Bowl of cereal or 2 x toast and jam/honey.

    Do not worry about lack of protein, the above has enough (from milk, yoghurts and even pasta and bread and it is only for a couple of days).

    Race morning foods should be tried and tested cereal etc and also the timing of foods before you run.

    The food during a marathon should be easy and quick to digest that is why simple sugars is what is used (fat or protein take longer to leave tummy and unlike carbs can not start to be digested in the mouth ). Jelly sweets rather than expensive gels is fine but as mentioned above there is pro and cons to this.

  • cowgirl668 wrote (see)
    Hi similar to William Brown. I need quick family style receipes & ideas. I have 1 veggie son in the mix.
    Like everyone I am flat out doing training, family, & my job.

    Also with Sarah I can't stomach the gels so whilst I try everything on the market what alternatives are there.

    Finally can you give us a few ideas for a whole day - breakfast, snack, lunch snack etc for training days & non training days

    Ta

    I think I have probably answered most of these points already but good website such as the Australian Institute of Sport   has recipes for and from athletes and veggie options to suit all the family. Some of the foods need to be changes to British brands etc but enough on there for ideas.  

    Have you tried different tyres of regular jelly sweets?

    If you are training more than 5 days a week for a marathon my view is that all days for eating are training days (so rest days are recovery of fuel days). I know that appears simplistic the only accept ion  is down weeks and first part of taper I would reduce all portion by on more than a ¼ but this will depend on your body composition (if you struggle to keep weight on then less than this) and no extras such as biscuits, crisps, chocolates, cake or very little etc .

  • Katy1 wrote (see)
    Hi Ruth

    Am having trouble knowing if im eating enough. What should my daily calorie intake be whilst marathon training I don't know if this helps you answer but I'm 36, 5ft 4inch and weigh 8 stone. I'm currently running 45+ miles, 5 times a week. I'm also a busy mum of two small girls so don't tend to sit down much!

    Thanks for your advice

    Katy

     

    Katy1 wrote (see)
    Hi Ruth

    Am having trouble knowing if im eating enough. What should my daily calorie intake be whilst marathon training I don't know if this helps you answer but I'm 36, 5ft 4inch and weigh 8 stone. I'm currently running 45+ miles, 5 times a week. I'm also a busy mum of two small girls so don't tend to sit down much!

    Thanks for your advice

    Katy

    Not really enough information to give very sound advice  but sounds like you need to lose no more weight but I do not know what you body composition is (body fat etc ) so just going on height and weight. Some question you need to honestly ask yourself: are you struggling  in recovery from runs? Is your training very u and down? Are you often injured or unwell etc? Do you have regular menstrual cycle (if not could be a fuel issue and it is very important that you do have regular periods)? Do you leave long gaps between eating?  Are you eating at least 200kcal per day (although I suspect you may need close to 2400-2500kcal)? If you are full  of energy and are not up and down on your runs and can answer these question positively to all of the questions you may be doing okay but without seeing what you eat I am guessing somewhat and going on experience. Could you write done account of what you are eating and show it to someone that could be objective on it? The busy mum aspect  I totally understand but if you can find time to marathon train you must find time to eat. I suggest 3 meals and 3 snack per day. I bet you never leave the house without snacks for  the girls, do the same for you! You will be amazed with a little  planning on the weekly shop  how much better snack choices and meals can be and how easy they can be. Meals do not have to be fancy! Hope this helps. Ruth

  • Emmy H wrote (see)

    Hi Ruth,

    I'm looking for some advice. I've recently being diagnosed with the following intollerances: Cows Milk, Peanuts, white sugar (any refined sugar). I'm in the process of getting a second opinion but in the meantime - can you suggest any gels or anything that I can eat on long runs if refined sugar is out? Maltodextrose is in EVERY gel that I can find.

    I've heard some good things about Beetroot juice - would you recommend this?

    Do you think it's wise for a serial marathon runner to avoid cows milk

    Hi there

    Have you been told these are allergies or intolerance? If allergies you must avoid as can affect your immune system. If intolerance then small amount in your diet may not be a problem and if you do eat these foods you may suffer sore tummy etc but will not damage your body longer term but you should avoid to reduce  symptoms. I do also wonder who diagnosed you as I am not sure that the NHS or other medial person would tell you are intolerance to refined sugar. Do you eat excessive amounts of white sugar in boiled or jelly sweets/confectionary, coffee etc There is refined sugar in so many foods from cereal, bread etc and I question  how you would be able to  absorb fruit sugar if cannot have refined suga however refined sugar should be limited in diet to as little as possible except perhaps when running a marathon. You will struggle to find any gels or jelly sweets that will suit but I would ask you if  you run well with these in the past suggest you use on  marathon day if an intolerance and no symptoms.

    Peanuts and milk are more common but you have not mentioned if it is cow milk protein or the lactose in the milk you have problems with again makes me wonder who tested. If it is lactose than just move to lactose free milk if cow milk protein use soya enriched with calcium  or rice/almond milk (goats milk etc will have the protein in it so do not use if it is the cows milk protein that is the issue). Nuts you need to avoid but seek proper medical advice on this and ensure this is not an allergy that you can react to in a server way.

     

    Beetjuice is not for drinking during a race, I doubt many could stomach this! It tastes rather bitter. But again the sugar form the beetjuice could be an issue. If using this use before a race use  up to two bottles so for example at 4 hours pre race and 2 hours per race . This is meant to enhance th time you will fatigue at, it has some decent research behind it but not conclusive. It is the dietary nitrates found in beetroot that is the  magic ingredients but you can find dietary nitrates in spinach, cress, lettuce, celery beetroot and other foods as well but the beet juice is in a concentrated form so you

  •  can have high amounts in one shot.

    Hope all gets sorted.

  • Minni wrote (see)
    Hi Ruth,

    I read the advice you were giving to the Asics crew regarding carbon loading for their half marathon with a view to using the same strategy over two days before the marathon. It seemed you were suggesting a lot of food but on the day it really seemed to help them - I think they said as much themselves.

    It was interesting the foods you suggested using and those to avoid and recommendations on keeping the correct balance of carbs/protein/fat.

    Is it possible for you to summarise this here along with the amount of carbs needed. (I'm about 115lb).

    Also, when it comes to gels in the marathon, how many would you recommend and at what time? I usually take me first one at 13-14 miles but in my last marathon took the first one at 7 miles (a friend marshalling passed it to me at this point) and I actually think this was better.

    Sorry that's a lot! Thanks.

    Hi Minne

    The food that  I have  posted will appear a lot for you as you only weigh 155lb . For you I would only recommend you have 400-500g when carb loading and as mentioned above cut out all the extras fat and even protein to keep the overall calories down,

    So a plan for you could look like this:

    Breakfast: 50g cereal & 150ml milk with one slice of toast with honey/jam and 200ml of fruit juice.

    Snack: 500ml milkshake or medium banana and 500ml of fruit juice/squash/cordial

    Lunch: 2 slice of thick bread with banana and honey filling , 150g pot of yogurt or medium baked potato and beans

    Snack: bagel and honey/jam (split in tow and have over full afternoon) and 500ml of cordial/squash.

    Evening meal: 90g dried weight pasta/rice and tomato based  sauce  and 300ml of fruit juice or a chopped fruit & pot of yoghurt (150-200g)

    Before bed: ceral bar or 1 slice of toast and jam.

    This is around 450g of carbs.

    Hope this helps.

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