The Building Block of Good Nutrition
You’ve learned about good nutrition in health class, but if you’re working out, it’s
even more important. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food
Guide Pyramid, there’s a definite eating plan we should strive to follow for
GRAINS should be the foundation of your diet, with between 6 and 11 servings
each day. A serving is 1 slice of bread (so a sandwich counts as 2 servings!), half of a bagel or 1/2 cup of rice or pasta. For more fiber and better nutrition, think whole grain: Brown rice is better than white rice rice; whole-wheat bread is better than white bread.
VEGETABLES should account for 3 to 5 servings each day, with 1 serving equal to 1 cup of raw vegetables or 1/2 cup of cooked or chopped raw vegetables. Vegetables should be eaten raw or lightly steamed rather than mushy, so you get the most nutrition per bite (boiling tends to remove vitamins and minerals). Again, the more color, the more nutrients: Choose dark green lettuce, such as romaine, over iceberg.
FRUIT should be eaten two or four times a day. One serving is 1/2 cup of chopped,
cooked or canned fruit, 3/4 cup of fruit juice or one fruit the size of a medium
apple. When it comes to eating fruit for good health, variety is also important.
MILK, YOGURT AND CHEESES represent the dairy grouping; you should aim for
2 to 3 servings a day. Stick to nonfat or low-fat varieties such as a slice of
reduced-fat cheese or 8 ounces of skim or low-fat or yogurt.
MEATS, POULTRY, FISH, DRIED BEANS, EGGS AND NUTS should supply no
more than 2 to 3 servings a day. That means if you have a handful of nuts, one lean hamburger, and 3 ounces of skinless chicken, you have all the protein you need from this group. Eggs aren’t the nutritional bad guys they once were thought to be; although high in cholesterol, they pack a lot of nutrients per bite and can be part of a good diet. If you want, use only egg whites, since they’re free of fat and cholesterol.
FATS, OILS AND SWEETS should be eaten as little as possible. Health experts
recommend that you eat no more than 30 percent of your total daily calories as
fat. For an even healthier breakdown that limits fat to 25 percent, get 9 percent
or less of your total daily calories from polysaturated fat, 9 percent or less from
monounsaturdated fat and 7 percent or less from saturated fat. For example, if
you eat about 2,500 calories per day, your daily total fat intake should be 69 grams or less.
POWER YOUR RUNNING WITH ENERGY BARS
According to Todd Williams, a 1992 Olympian and America’s top 10,000-meter
runner, energy bars are as indispensable to a runner’s success as a pair of running shoes.
Why are energy bars so popular with runners? They’re convenient, easily
digestible, low in fat, high in vitamins and minerals and, most important, chock-full of carbohydrates, the prime source of instant energy for working muscles.
“A sports bar is fuel for energy, stamina and endurance,” says Nancy Clark, a
sports dietitian in the Boston area and author of The New York City Marathon
Cookbook. “It’s like putting gas in your tank.”
RACE DAY NUTRITION
If you wish to perform to your potential, a balanced nutritional diet with ample
intake of fluids is of utmost importance.
Day Before the Race
1. Eat foods high in Carbohydrates (spaghetti, lasagna, pizza, noodles, macaroni,
rice, breads, potatoes, corn). Not as improtant in shorter races.
2. Eat fruits and vegetables. Fresh fruit and vegetables are especially good.
Bananas are an excellent fruit to eat at snack as they are high in potassium, an
element your body needs.
3. Do not eat a lot of dairy products (cheeses, milks, ice cream). It takes some
time to digest dairy products, so you don’t want to risk having the dairy products
sit in your stomachs.
4. Do not eat heavy amounts of meats or sugary foods.
Day of the Race
1. Eat nothing ~3 hours prior to your race. You do not want food in your stomach
because your blood will be working to digest the food rather than offering you an
efficient blood flow to your cells and organs.
2. Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, especially water, juices, and not
sugary drinks (no soda, sorry) but not within 2 hours.
3. Eat carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables.
4. Typical foods to avoid since they are particularly hard to digest include apples,
milk, cheeses, donuts, meats, chips, french fries, greasy foods, peanut butter,
burritos and tacos.
NOTE: FLUIDS ARE A MUST THROUGHOUT THE WEEK. Whenever you pass a
drinking fountain take in some water! Drink plenty of foods throughout the day of the race.
Carbohydrate foods (see above)
Sports drinks (without sugars)
Extra-lean meat, skinless poultry and fish
Power snack foods
Snack chips and crackers
Candy bars (ie, Candy)
Whole milk and cheese
Spreads and dressings
Fruit drinks (with sugar)
GETTING SERIOUS ABOUT HYDRATION
Fluid replacement tips! This is extremely important to any cross country athlete.
1. Get loaded. Keep your fluid tank full the day before a workout.
2. Top it off. Drink 16 ounces of fluid two hours before your workout.
3. Too much is never enough. Drink early and often during exercise.
4. Go for cool. A slightly cooled beverage is more palatable, and you can drink more of it more often.
5. Savor the flavor. A good-tasting beverage is easier to drink than plain water
(although water is good).
6. Juice it up. For exercise lasting more than an hour, drink electrolytes and
7. Get energized. Consume 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour for exercise
lasting over an hour.
8. The sodium solution. Drinks that contain sodium, such as energy drinks, are
recommendation for exercise lasting over an hour. Sodium enhances flavor and
promotes fluid retention.