I am going to use this week’s Giraffe Paper as an add on to the two blog posts from earlier today, My Best Damn Race – Parts 1 & 2. As those were very heavy on Performance and Mind elements, I’ll focus today’s blog on the nutrition aspect that hopefully can help you in race preparation and/or everyday health.
If you do not know already, my nutrition in-take is plant-based (I do not eat anything from an animal). That is much different than my 327 cholesterol days of eating as much meat and dairy I could possibly stuff in my face. I feel better than at anytime in my life and have absolutely no doubt yesterday’s time of 18:49 was only possible for me based on my nutrition. Of course all the pain and training are components but if I wasn’t fueling myself properly there is no way I could have come close to to that time. Let’s dig a little deeper.
Since going 100% plant-based just over two years ago I continue to educate myself on nutrition, achieved the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies Certification in Plant-Based Nutrition, and I’m going for another certification this year. But the learning continues in the interim, constantly reading, watching and listening to as much as I can. I just love it and it feels great to feel great!
So with that said, I eat pretty darn healthy but have learned I can continue to make a tweak here or there to even feel better. An example is when approximately six months ago I cut oils from my intake. Oils do not come from animals, but boy they aren’t so good for us and they are in so many things that we eat and we don’t even know it. They are extremely high in fat and calories in very small dosages. If you haven’t read my previous blog reviewing Dr. Alan Goldhamer’s, The Pleasure Trap, check that out on the effects of salt, oil, and sugar (SOS) on us. Not a pretty story…..
Anyway, I dropped oil and in many cases when I prepared my own food, substituted a low sodium vegetable broth, and wow, I dropped about five pounds without trying. I don’t really care about the weight other than I do watch my weight from a racing perspective but I lost about five pounds quickly and I felt even cleaner. Good side effect….like those.
If you do have oils regularly, it may be something to watch on race week. Carefully monitoring foods that cause inflammation to your body is also a consideration as you are approaching your race. Any animal product will introduce inflammation immediately and it usually lasts about 4-6 hours as it is being digested in your body. Then it’s time for another meal and start the inflammation process all over again. I am summarizing what Dr. Michael Greger goes into detail with in his peer based reviewed research that you can watch via the link shared on the Get Started page (#4).
You probably know the foods you have issues with. Stay away from them as you are approaching your race. I personally plan out my in take for the couple days leading up to an A race and it differs based on the type of race and distance. One example is for an endurance type of race (Ironman 70.3), I like to have a brown rice pasta or brown rice combo with beans and/or sauces that I know agree with me. That fills me up really well with zero side effects (no inflammation). For a 5k run race, I like to feel as lean as I can so I have been making an Acai Bowl. It fills me up but I’m not feeling really full like some of the pastas or rice dishes I have had. Also note for the pasta or rice combos, avoid the white pastas, the regular stuff you may see….very little nutrition content….as it’s all stripped away. Brown rice, quinoa, red lentil and some others are packed with protein and fiber! So find what works for you.
A fantastic tip from elite triathlete and coach, Celia Dubey, is to get yourself completely full 12 hours prior to the race. For most short distance races or workouts you then need nothing before you perform. I was skeptical of this as I’m always hungry when I wake up but tried it first at a track workout. It was an amazing workout so I continued with the experiment and ALWAYS felt great performing resulting in me now not eating anything prior to a morning workout, a 5k race, or sprint triathlon. If your effort is hard for an hour or so and under, you should be completely fine…..as long as you fueled yourself properly the day before and got full 12 hours prior. When doing this, I have felt so much better with the absence of my system trying to digest while I’m going all out. Dabble with this as we are all different on how we interact with nutrition and performance.
For this race, I finished my dinner, Acai bowl, around 7:00 pm Friday night, added a banana at 9:00 pm so I ensured I was completely content going to bed 12 hours prior to my race. On race morning I had a few ounces of an electrolyte drink and a few ounces of an energy drink but that was it. I was getting hungry when the race started. With as hard as I pushed myself I was so happy I did not eat or it would not have ended well for me in a few ways. That stomach pain for me was so much worse when I had even a banana only race morning or something else small. Racing (short-distance) with nothing in me eliminates many so many issues.
As noted on the Purpose page, the spirit of what I’m trying to do is share as much information about healthy living including nutrition that I come across and/or has worked for me. Everyone needs to make their own decisions on nutrition and what works for them. Experiment in practice before you ever attempt to do something on race day and feel confident in what you do.
– Add Health to Your Life