There seems to be tremendous interest right now in the health effects of sugar in our diets. Many people say that it is sugar, rather than fat, that is leading people to be overweight. Documentaries like "Fed Up" talk about both the addictive nature of sugar and how the idea of "eating better and exercising more" makes little sense when the environment makes it practically impossible to eliminate sugar additives from your diet in the first place. No matter how hard you try, the deck is simply stacked against you, so the thinking goes. So 21 days ago I set ...
In my video this week on post-workout recovery foods I mentioned our Super Changed Recovery Waffle Recipe. In this post you’ll find the recipe and directions for making them!
The background on these waffles goes something like this. Our 8 year-old loved waffles (as do many kids) but we wanted to see if we could pump up the nutritional value in them for him. Adding things like protein and greens in foods that your kids actually like is a real bonus after all. What we found is that he liked these so much that they became his favorite breakfast item. Corrin actually came up with the idea and thus they became known as “Coco Loves you Waffles” in our house.
These waffles keep really well in the fridge. After making a batch, I put them in plastic bags and they keep for up to a week. They can be popped into the toaster and ready in a minute or two. This makes them great a recovery breakfast item after a long run, when I’m too tired to think about cooking and want something hearty in a hurry. These waffles are high in protein, which will help speed your recovery.
Surround the waffles with a glass of milk, some breakfast meat and some fruit to get yourself ready for your day.
Here’s the recipe:
Coco Loves You Waffles
1/3 cup Inspiration Mixes Ol’ Fashioned Pancake and Waffle Mix
1/3 cup VEGA Proteins and Greens Vanilla Flavor Powder
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla or gluten-free vanilla
3 eggs or egg substitute
3 tablespoons oil
3/4 cup milk or milk alternative (e.g. soy, almond, coconut)
Whisk together the vanilla, eggs, oil and milk. Add waffle mix and VEGA powder. Let stand for 1 minute. Scoop about 1/3 cup of batter into your waffle maker and cook for 3-4 minutes.
This amount makes about 3-4 large waffles in our waffle maker. The amount will vary depending on how much batter goes into your waffle trays.
Eat while hot. Let the left-overs cool. Place leftovers in plastic bags and refrigerate. Reheat in the toaster when ready to eat.
A note on gluten. I use a gluten-free waffle mix, because my son is gluten-intolerant. You can likely use a regular waffle mix, but I haven’t tried that myself.
We hope you enjoy!
Coach Joe English, Portland, Oregon, USA
Running-Advice.com & RUN Time
What should you #eat after a long run or ride to promote your recovery? Here are some suggestions in this week’s short video. Eat up runners!
This is Episode 10 in our RUN Time series from @coachjoeenglish. Many more to come!
I post even more frequently on Facebook. Check it out here: www.facebook.com/runningadvice
Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon USA
Running-Advice.com and RUN Time
One of my athletes wrote to me today with a great question about using energy drinks — drinks of the non-athletic kind like Red Bull — in their racing and training. Today, we’ll draw a distinction here between energy drinks made for athletes (those that contain primarily sugar and electrolytes) and energy drinks made for daily consumption (those containing stimulants). But first, here’s the question:
I have tried gels and chews and it’s just not for me… I have been running with an electrolyte/ carb hydration liquid, along with water. Toward the end of my long runs, last 3-4 miles I added half redbull half water mixer….
I have been doing pretty good with this combo… What are your thoughts? Any recommendations on energy/carb drinks that i should try?
On the first part of your question, it is just fine to use liquid-based sugars rather than solids or semi-solids (chews, gels or bars). Many runners ask if they “need” to use gels or bars, but in reality most elite runners actually use liquid energy drinks. They do this both because it is faster to drink out of a bottle than try opening something in a package and because being liquids are typically absorbed more quickly. So if that’s working for you then great! Just be careful not to make the mixture too concentrated. If the concentration of sugar gets to be too high, the stomach can get touchy quickly. Note however that these elite athletes tend to train their stomachs to take higher concentrations of sugars than most of us could “stomach” (pun intended), so watch out for products made specifically for elite athletes. You may need to build up to something like that over time.
With regard to the Red Bull you’re just adding another layer of stimulation to the mix. Red Bull and most energy drinks have stimulants in them like Caffeine or Taurine. While these stimulants don’t actually give your muscles energy, they do boost your mental state and this can be important late in a run or race. Red Bull also has sugar in it (both sucrose and glucose), so you are getting more sugar energy from the drink as well. This may be important, because there are many types of sugars and changing sugars can either be helpful or harmful depending on your stomach.
They say that once something is raised to your awareness it is hard to let it slip back into the unconscious. Once you know something you can’t un-know it. After my 21-day experiment to eliminate added sugars from my diet, I was left feeling overwhelmed by the experience. Not only do I now look for sugar on the ingredients of everything I eat, I’m starting to fully internalize how difficult it would be to purge hidden sugar from your life on a more permanent basis. It would certainly mean a different approach to eating at home, but the prospect of eating when traveling or eating out at restaurants is daunting.Hidden sugar is systemic: it’s a way to make foods more cheaply and therefore those making food have an incentive to use a lot it. Until we reach a tipping point that the general public considers sugar something that makes food “toxic” it won’t be purged out of the food. People, for one thing, like the taste of foods with sugars in them and collectively we don’t make good choices when it comes to choosing things that are good for us. But if we take something like gluten or MSG as an example, there have been at their respective times a point when people started to be on the lookout for these items and over time we’ve seen more and more gluten-free products — and MSG is generally no longer used in fast-food cooking. We’ve seen something akin to this recently with high-fructose corn syrup; people are on the lookout for it. But sadly, I think food manufacturers are simply replacing high-fructose corn-syrup with other added sugars that haven’t been branded as “bad.”
Let’s not forget why this is important. There are three reasons: 1) sugar is likely addictive or at least seems to shape our behavior in that we want to eat more of it; 2) sugar packs more calories into smaller amounts of food, which leads us to eat more mass to fill our stomachs; and 3) sugar is quickly absorbed into our system, but doesn’t have a long-lasting effect, meaning we want to eat again sooner than we should. Just think of those tiny pastries at the Starbucks counter. Their sweet and sticky and pack 500 calories in a little square. They taste good going down, but you’ll be hungry again in an hour after eating them. This is what I would call the “snack trap.” You’ve “snacked” rather than eaten a meal. You likely didn’t get what you needed and you’ll be hungry again in an hour. Boo!
This feels like one of those things that could make you throw up your hands and say, ‘there’s just no way.’ But there are some things that we can do to keep this in our conscious awareness and hopefully make a dent into the sugars that are hiding in our food. I can at least offer five things I learned that we could all practice in our shopping and food choices.
1) Read the ingredients and ignore the marketing — There’s so much distraction happening on food packaging that is can be hard to spot the healthy foods from the pretenders. I was browsing the bread aisle and I picked up one of the healthiest looking breads last week. It said “100% Whole Wheat” on the front and then in big read letters said, “No High-Fructose Corn Syrup!” The second ingredient in the bread was sugar and it had the most sugar of any that I looked at that day. While the marketing claim was true, the statement was misleading in that it implies that the product has less sugar in it. In fact, it had more sugar than most of the breads, they just didn’t use high-fructose corn syrup. Turn the package around and make your choice from the ingredients list.
There seems to be tremendous interest right now in the health effects of sugar in our diets. Many people say that it is sugar, rather than fat, that is leading people to be overweight. Documentaries like “Fed Up” talk about both the addictive nature of sugar and how the idea of “eating better and exercising more” makes little sense when the environment makes it practically impossible to eliminate sugar additives from your diet in the first place. No matter how hard you try, the deck is simply stacked against you, so the thinking goes.
So 21 days ago I set out to see if it was possible: could I eliminate sugars from my diet and what would be the impact on my behavior and general sense of well-being? I didn’t go into this trying to fix some specific problem or to lose weight. Rather in the end I learned a lot about how it felt and really how hard it was to do it.
The ground rules of my test
First things first, what did this experiment mean to me? I planned to eliminate foods containing sugar or sugar additives as ingredients in food. That would include anything appearing on a label such as sugar, cane sugar, corn syrup, brown rice syrup, malto-dextrine and many other items. This was not intended to be a test of one type of sugar against another or their respective nutritional values. As an athlete I wanted to keep some carbohydrate in my diet so I kept WHOLE fruit (not fruit juice) and some carbohydrate (such as rice or pasta) so long as those foods didn’t include sugar additives. Most bread, for example, includes various types of sugars (depending on the recipe) so most bread was out. I also kept some cheese in my diet, which includes lactose (sugar from milk) but I would not have eaten something like sweetened yogurt or even sweetened almond or soy milk because of the added sugar in those products. Why keep cheese, you ask? Because I have been trained to have desert after a meal and a little cheese and fresh fruit was about my only choice.
In the beginning I thought, “this will be easy” (seriously I did!) because I cook at home a lot. I figured that so long as I was cooking, I simply wouldn’t add sugar to what I was cooking and I would live on meats, nuts, vegetables and whole fruit. But it only took about one meal to figure out just how hard this was going to be. Even cooking at home, nearly every condiment and sauce in my pantry for preparing foods had sugar in it. To my astonishment, this included most of your basic condiments such as mayonaise, ketchup, bar-b-que sauces and the like. The first cook-at-home meal, was pretty plain until I got out to the store to buy new versions of pretty much everything in the fridge. It didn’t stop with condiments either. I was floored to see sugar in places that I thought I could most definitely eat — like bacon (MEAT!), beef jerky (ALSO MEAT!), potato chips, and bread.
I replaced many things with alternatives, most of which tended to be locally made or small-batch products. I found mayo, fresh garlic sauce, hot dogs, and peanut butter, all without sugar, but it certainly took some doing. The first lesson of this is that if you look at the labels, you may be surprised at where you find sugar as an ingredient.
One of my athletes asked me a question this week that circles around runners frequently: should runners by using energy gels or other energy products during training runs or save them just for races? The companion question is whether there is any sense or utility to the “glycogen depletion run”. I’ll tackle both of these today. First, here’s the question:
“I’ve been talking to some people who have run marathons, and some say to not train with gels/gus because then your body gets used to them, and others say to train with gels/gus exactly how you’re going to eat them during the race. . . . Is there an easy to way to figure out who’s right? So far, I’ve incorporated chomps into my long runs, and haven’t had any issues with them, but wasn’t sure if I should continue to use them during my long runs leading up to the marathon, and then in the marathon itself.”
My short answer is yes! You do want to use your energy products in training for two big reasons. First, you want to do everything in training that you do on race day. You do this so that race day is just a longer version of what you do in training. This is very true of our nutrition routine. We need to practice with the products that we’re going to use on race day so that we know they will work. In particular, energy products can be tricky with some people’s stomachs, so trying them out and making sure a particular brand works for you is essential. You don’t want any surprises on race day, especially if those surprises wouldn’t entail diarrhea, stomach upset or even vomiting. (Yikes!)
Second, using energy products or eating food makes you feel better during your training runs and races. Wouldn’t we rather feel better, have more energy and perform better? I think most people want to feel the best that they can, so I advocate eating during our runs, because it will make you feel better.
If people worry they are going to “get used” to having gels I think what they are actually saying is “you don’t want to get used to them and not then have them available.” But this kind of misses the point. You carry your own gels and energy foods, so this is under your control. There’s no reason in a typical road race that you wouldn’t be able to carry your own products with you so this isn’t really a concern. Remember you want to “get used” to these products so they don’t surprise you with stomach upset on race day. “Getting used to them” is why we practice with them.
Marathon runners know that they can “hit the wall” or “bonk” in a long race. The “Bonk” as we call it normally happens when either our muscles or the brain runs out of energy. But sometimes the bonk comes hard and early in a race. If by mile four or five, you’re out of gas then something else is amiss. Today I handle one of my athlete’s questions to illustrate what kinds of factors can cause the early or “Pre-mature Bonk”. First, the question:
There’s a couple of things that I want you to think about here in regards to why you might have bonked so hard and early in your race, keeping in mind here that we’re talking about a half-marathon so your bonk comes even earlier than your longest workouts. Here are three things that I want you to focus on:
“My half marathon yesterday sucked. I finished in 2:07 and I was going for a PR of 1:58. I had to stop and walk a few times. Then I would get bursts of energy just like you described. . . .But I was completely tanked. I didn’t have any digestive problems at all, just a total lack of energy. . . .I felt so depleted. I finally pushed through at the “1/4 mile to go!” marker but nearly dropped after stepping on the finish mat. Oh, and did I tell you it was 85 degrees yesterday?”
First, is the impact of your training itself on your energy level. The fatigue you’re describing can be a symptom of what you’re doing in your workouts leading up to the race. The amount of recovery (or lack of recovery) is a big factor in how you feel during any particular workout. So if you think about your muscles as having a fuel tank, those tanks may not be getting refilled after your workouts and leading up to the half-marathon. One of the key differences between an “A” race and all the others (meaning one that you’re really training for rather than one that is just on the schedule along the way) is the taper period that comes before the race. This is a period of weeks that comes right before the race in which the body gets a chance to fully recover. What you’re describing below sounds typical of what happens when you run a race without a taper (or rather without recovery from your workouts right before it.) This isn’t actually a bad thing. It puts a level of stress on the body that ends up being helpful to your training in the long run, but it doesn’t feel great.
I was shooting the breeze with a runner last night who got me thinking about something. I admit this might be shocking and it may be one of those series of thoughts that possibly should have been left within the confines of my brain, but there is a thought here and I will share it with you. What I’m thinking about is sardines — or rather what should energy products really taste like? (I realize there is a big leap there, so stick with me.)Let me back up and start at the beginning. The context of the conversation went something like this: “I eat sardines for a pre-run snack.” That was sort of the whole conversation, because then I had to digest that.
But here’s the thing, once I digested it I realized that there is an interesting topic here. On the one hand, the biggest (THE BIGGEST) complaint that I hear on a daily basis from runners is that ENERGY GELS ARE TOO SWEET. The complaint comes in many forms, but all of the forms come back to the general idea that too much sweet does not do a tummy good.
There is a reason why many energy products are sweet. They’re sweet because carbohydrate is a good source of quickly and easily metabolized energy for most people. Most simple carbohydrates are sweet in taste, especially those that come from cheap simple sugars like dextrose, sucrose or fructose. There are two big “howevers” though. On the one hand, the sweetness in energy products also comes from flavorings that tend make the product even sweeter and the “for most people” means that many people have a tough time digesting certain kinds of sugars. So you could make energy products less sweet. Energy products, including gels, bars, drinks and blocks, tend to be pretty sweet. Some people have tried to tone down the sweetness of the taste palette of some of these products. One of my friends that formulated a hydration product went to the flavor palette of foods in Japan for instance and they tend to make foods much less sweet than we do here in the USA.
So we’re in week number two of the New Year and I continue to hear people talking about their New Year’s resolutions. I was talking with one young woman at the track today who was complaining about not having any energy this week. What had she changed in her diet I asked? She was trying to lose a few pounds, so she had started skipping breakfast. Probably the cause of her lack of energy. Skipping meals isn’t ever a good idea, especially when there are so many places where calories hide that we can cut without even really missing them.
So I thought I would give a couple of pieces of advice on easy places to cut calories to support your New Year’s weight loss resolutions. We all need to keep in mind that running itself only burns about 115 calories per mile, so running say 4 miles only burns away about 450 calories — not enough to give you a license to eat anything you want. Here are my top five calorie killers for runners looking to shave off some weight in the new year:Calorie Killer Number 1 — Kill the coffee drinks — Sorry folks, but skipping breakfast and then drinking a Venti Carmel Macchiato is not going to cut it. People seem to think that the calories in those coffee drinks don’t count for much. Unfortunately, they do. Many of the ingredients in coffee drinks are loaded with sugar or fat. To give you an example, a yummy Grande Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha with whipped cream (but only 2% milk) comes in at 500 calories. That’s more than your four mile run would burn away. You can check out the calories content of all of your favorite Starbucks drinks can be found by clicking here. But don’t get me wrong, there are good choices on the menu at your local coffee shop. Regular coffee has almost no calories and opting for skim milk dramatically cuts the calories on most drinks. Opt for drinks with sugar free flavorings if you must have them or even better, drink your coffee black.
Calorie Killer Number 2 — Lose the beer and wine — They say that moderation is a virtue, but some of us seem to drink beer and wine with a sort of nutritional blind-spot. Runners World even had an article in the January 2012 issue talking about how runners love to drink beer socially after their runs. But, as with coffee drinks, there are a lot of calories lurking in them thar beverages. Most “normal” beers (meaning not “light” beers) come in around 150-200 calories per twelve ounce bottle. My favorite beers seem to have the most calories, including Blue Moon that comes in at 171 calories with 13.7 grams of Carbohydrate. You can see a list of calories in many domestic beers by clicking here. As with the coffee drinks, opting for light beers will cut calories. But drinking in moderation will help a great deal as well.
A number of people have told me that of their grand plans for Thanksgiving today: eat as much as they want and then run it off tomorrow. There are two potential problems with this strategy that I’d like to think about today.
First, trying to burn off all those calories may be more than one can reasonably expect to run. Looking at various studies and estimates, the typical Thanksgiving Dinner could contain from 2,500 to 4,500 calories. Those numbers are totally dependent on the amount that you eat and the recipes used to cook the dinner. But Thanksgiving does tend to be one day when the margarine gets replaced with real butter and the skim milk is set aside for the cream. I think it would be hard to imagine taking down 4,500 calories in one sitting, but let’s just say that we are prone to indulging on America’s great day of eating.
We burn on average 115 calories per mile when running. This number could be slightly higher or lower depending on how fast you run and how much you weigh, but let’s use 115 calories per mile as an average. With that in mind it would take just over 21 miles to burn off the low-end 2,500 calorie number and more than 39 miles to burn off 4,500 calories. Ultra-marathon anyone?
The other problem is that many of the foods that we love on Thanksgiving are loaded with fat. Creamy mashed potatoes made with butter and cream. Egg nog. Pecan pie. These foods are all very high in fat. The net impact is that you may not feel like running miles and miles the next morning after eating food like this. These aren’t the foods that we choose for carbo-loading dinners, precisely because they aren’t the best for priming the pump for running. (Although these are some of my favorite foods and I’d love a pre-race dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing with gravy and cranberry sauce.