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I’m experimenting with holistic, natural sport nutrition.

Posted Mar 19 2010 12:00am

It all started when I learned about carbs.

Carbohydrates have been demonized in the media and things like high-protein diets have become increasingly popular. Carbs, however, are the body’s prime energy source. They make us move. Yes, excess carbs are stored as fat. But cutting carbs completely is a lethal move.

There is only one nutritional component that our brain cells demand from our bodies in order to function: carbohydrates. So often people who cut them dramatically feel foggy and lightheaded. They are essentially starving their brains. Not smart.

Carbs are not evil. Neither are they just breads and rice. Fruits and vegetables are carbs too. Blueberries. Pomegranates. Carrots. Squash. Corn. All carbohydrates. Like everything else, carbs have their use and their place in our bodies. With carbs you either use them or store them. So the trick is to find a balance and eat the amount you will use so you’re not storing large excesses as fat.

Carbohydrates are also one of the main components of sport drinks. This is because athletes need carbs to perform. However, when non-athletes consume these drinks, the excess carbs are stored as fat. The result is that the well-meaning lady across the street who goes out for a run in an attempt to become healthier instead finds herself getting chunky off Gatorade.

The first Gatorade drink did not come out until 1965 by the way. The sport nutrition industry is still in its infancy. The original concoction was a unique mix of water, sodium, sugar, potassium, phosphate, and lemon juice.

These are some of the essential elements that our bodies lose when we are training. Sport nutrition’s goal is simply to replenish what the body is losing. But the gels and candies and drinks that have been made available to the masses can sometimes do more harm that good:

A) Because the average person who picks these things up at the grocery store is not training like an athlete, so they are actually building up an excess of sugar in their bodies and storing it as fat.

B) Many of these products contain ingredients that we don’t actually need and frankly can’t be good for us. Like food colouring and artificial sweeteners.

I am now learning to break down the raw elements of food and becoming aware of how our bodies process these nutrients.

MY BIG EUREKA MOMENT

If I can isolate the basic components that my body loses during training and replenish those with natural ingredients instead of artificial ones, I believe that my body can perform at an even greater capacity. If I could even just match my performance to what I would get off mainstream drinks and energy boosters naturally, that would be an enormous breakthrough. Something that doesn’t taste disgusting, is practical and compact enough to run with, and 100% holistic.

If our bodies require carbohydrates and protein and water, there are many things in our kitchens that contain those building blocks. With the proper knowledge of exactly how my body burns fuel, I can create my own recipes and mixes to feed these basic elements back into my body during training without resorting to expensive and chemically manipulated beverages. It’s all about achieving the same athletic performance more naturally, and therefore having a better option.

Of course, this could take quite a while. I am only barely beginning to learn the basic functions of digestion. But this is where it starts. I can do the Gatorade and the protein powder for now, but eventually as I learn more, I can start replacing things in my diet and start experimenting as I train. I am confident that I can find a natural alternative that will work in my body. And if it works in my body, it will work in yours. And in the body of any other human being.

Sport nutrition should not be about secret ingredients or formulas or product development for profit. For me this is about empowering athletes and regular people with the knowledge they need to control what their bodies consume and understand how they burn fuel. It’s about enhancing athletic performance naturally.

This makes perfect sense to me and I feel I’m in a perfect position to experiment with it because:

A) I am not an athlete that depends on a career strictly based on performance. I’m just some girl that runs. So if I try something and it doesn’t work, it’s not like I’m losing any income.

B) In one year I will be certified in both athletic training and holistic nutrition. And I’m planning to pursue a Masters in Sport Nutrition.

C) I bought a bunch of sport drinks today with no intention of drinking them just so I could study their ingredients. Who does that?

D) I don’t need to get rich. The absolute priority for me is to help people improve their health and train better and stop being so confused and misguided all the time. I’m frustrated with journalists who regurgitate the health information fed to them instead of asking real questions. You know, like they were trained to do. The fact that I’m pissed means I’m passionate and motivated. Angry people seek change. And so I’m happy to share whatever I learn with you. I’m excited!

HOW I MADE CARBS MY FRIENDS

1. Breakfast is not only the most important meal of the day, it’s the ONLY meal of the day where I can eat carbs and not worry in the least. You have the entire day to burn them off. Yum!

2. I eat carbs immediately after training. My body needs them. Not enormous amounts though. Have a piece of fruit and some protein. Fruit = carb.

3. If I am running or training for more than an hour, my body needs more than just water during my workout. It needs carbs.

4. Not all carbs are equal. Simple carbs (sugars, fruit) are absorbed quickly and give you that “sugar high” which is great when you’re running but not when you’re sitting in an office all day. (Interesting side note: breast milk contains simple carbs)

5. Complex carbs take longer to break down, so they release energy slowly throughout the day. These are things like WHOLE WHEAT pasta, wheat, rice, bread, as well as root veggies like turnip, parsnip, potatoes, and yams. Better for sitting in an office, but too slow for high intensity training.

I stressed whole wheat because white grains are made by removing the outer wheat germ layer, which is where the fiber lives. What’s left is a simple carb and a quick surge of energy. This is why if you have a slice of white toast in the morning, you’ll find you’re starving 45 minutes later. Whole wheat bread doesn’t do that.

Why did we ever do such a silly thing like removing the fiber from our grains? Because we were silly. Years ago, the process for removing this outer layer required sifting through silk. It was an expensive endeavor and therefore a sign of wealth to eat white bread. Everyone wanted it, so we started making it more affordable. Now we can all feel rich. And we’re fiber deficient! Great job guys.

6. If I eat carbs at night, my body doesn’t have a chance to burn them off. I will store them as fat while I sleep. So I stick to carbs in the morning, during long or high intensity training, and after training. However, if I train at night, I still need the carbs.

WHAT’S TO COME

I’m excited because I’m getting myself hooked up tomorrow with some NICE products for future giveaways. We’re talking electronics people! Don’t say I don’t love you.

Also next week I will be blogging about the second thing (besides the glute stuff ) that my physio suggested to maximize running performance. Plus exactly what I eat and drink (and why!) on my long run training days.

The Chic Runner is having a free giveaway right now. I tell you this unselfishly because I want the prize for myself.

Good luck to everyone who is racing this weekend! Drop me a comment to let me know how it goes.

And thanks to everyone who contacted me with support regarding yesterday’s post. I have a very lengthy reply that I will post in the comments section. Have a good one!

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