I started to explore what I put in my body as I was studying massage therapy in 2009. We had a naturopathic doctor come in and talk with us about what our body needs and what might be possible irritants that lead to pathologies, sickness and discomfort. We also learned that each body is uniquely different, so what works for one might not work for another.
My wife has JRA and I wanted to help her figure out a natural way to keep her RA in remission without nasty medication. She had blood work done and found out different foods she was allergic too like gluten and dairy products. We didn’t have money to get my blood tested too, but an elimination diet revealed irritant triggers for myself. I found wheat/gluten to be very tough on my system to digest and also leading to inflammation and GI distress. I cut out most wheat products but really had a hard time giving up beer. I mean, come-on, I’m from Wisconsin; that’s what we live on.
As I started running more and more, connecting with my body and taking better care of my health I decided to give up the beer too and was completely gluten free. My running transformed and I felt so much healthier! I kept improving in the sport and also kept tinkering with what I ate.
I was GF for over a year with much success, but would still have gi stress in the latter stages of races and daily runs. Also, anything with caffeine in it made my stomach upset. In 2011, I decided to go mostly grain free. I still have a corn tortilla or rice on occasion. I read different articles addressing a more paleo/low-carb lifestyle which intrigued me. I’ve played around with that the last couple years. I still use carbs, but mostly in the form of sweet potatoes and fruits. When I do eat carbs I use them strategically; I’ll eat sweet potatoes with lots of coconut oil the night before a race or long/intense run. I’ll have a green smoothie after a hard run with fruit and whey protein to replenish my glycogen storage and rebuild my muscles. I also take some amino acid supplements to rebuild my muscles after long/intense races or training sessions.
I don’t like labels and would not call myself low-carb, paleo, etc. I would say that I follow a diet with more protein & fat and less carbs than most people and that it has helped me recover faster, reduce inflammation and overall just feel healthier. My diet consist of mainly organic and local if possible grass-fed meats, vegetables, eggs, nuts, seeds, fruits, sweet potatoes and coconut oil. I keep tinkering with what works best for me and continue to read articles and others opinions and experiment with it. I believe each person/body is very unique and you need to find the best way of eating for yourself, each body accepts or rejects foods differently. Eating and cooking should be fun; experiment with new recipes, invite friends over and cook them a meal. There are so many awesome choices of food and a plethora of ways to prepare and have fun in the kitchen.
For racing I do use carbs; I try to keep them minimal mainly to keep my stomach under control and to promote fat burning as another viable source of fuel. I also do many workouts where I’m really depleted afterwards. I’ll run up to 5 hrs on 1 or 2 gels which is around 200 calories. During a race I stick to 100-200 calories an hour with gels and at the later stages of a race I might drink some Sierra Mist or Coke. There reaches a point at the end of 100 mile race that I’m tired of gels and liquid calories just go down easier. Also Sierra Mist or Ginger Ale can help settle my stomach. I don’t drink soda any other time, but for races I make the exception.
What I eat…
Here is a sample of what I eat on a daily basis and days prior to a race. I hope to continue to put up some recipes on my blog for you to try out.
I like to have a tablespoon or two of hazelnut or almond butter in the morning before heading out for a run. On training runs 3-5 hrs I might use 1 or 2 gels. I like to keep the calories low to promote fat burning and if I don’t need it I like to not have much sugar in my diet.
After a long day out on the trails I might have a green smoothie with kale, banana and some type of berries. If I don’t do a green smoothie I’ll have some scrambled eggs with sautéed kale or spinach and any other vegetables I have laying around the house with coconut oil and maybe some avocado too.
For snacking, I make Kale chips which I try to always keep on hand. Other options for snacking are carrots or other raw veggies, nuts and seeds. I really like walnuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. I also indulge in Justin’s hazelnut butter or some sweet potatoes chips after a hard run or race. And YES, I do enjoy a nice glass or two of red wine in the evening.
As for dinner I’ll have some type of meat (normally chicken or venison), some vegetables (zucchini, brussels sprouts, avocado, artichoke, broccoli, carrots, kale, spinach, cabbage, peppers, onions, mushrooms…etc) either sautéed or raw, washed down with some tasty water.
I also take natural herbal supplements every day by a local company in Ashland called Natura Health Products . I take these products daily during hard training sessions, but make sure to take weeks off sometimes so my body balances itself out and does not rely on certain herbs. I use them as tools to keep my body strong by not breaking down muscle and promoting a healthy immune system. The food I eat and herbs I take are all huge recovery tools. The healthier I am after races and hard training runs allows me to get back out in nature and enjoy life with my wonderful family.
Natura Health Products
- Power Adapt helps you adapt to the stresses of life and intense training sessions.
- Amino-Max supports the bodies ability to create protein, sustain energy and optimize recovery time.
- Botanabol helps build strength and endurance, optimizes energy levels and recovery time.
- Beyond Essential Fats are a perfect balance of Omega 3, 6 and 7 fatty acids which support a healthy function of the cardiovascular, neurological and immune systems, while promoting a healthy inflammatory response.
- Beyond Whey is great after workouts or races. I add this protein powder to my green smoothies to promote a healthy recovery.
2 days before race
Breakfast – 200 cal of Justin’s Hazelnut butter or just plain almond butter.
Snack after run – green smoothie (kale, bananas and strawberries)
Lunch – chicken in a cabbage wrap, maybe some avocado and veggies of some sort (like kale, carrots or zucchini)
Dinner – chicken, veggies, sweet potatoes with coconut oil
Breakfast- 200 cal of Justin’s Hazelnut butter
Lunch – chicken, veggies, sweet potatoes with coconut oil
Dinner – chicken, sweet potatoes with coconut oil
200-300 calories Justin’s Hazelnut butter
100-200 calories an hour using VFuel and maybe some soda in the later stages of an ultra
2 salt-caps per hour
16oz water at each aid station. I drink a few cup at each AS too if possible.
This is what works best for me but take some time to experiment for yourself and see what foods work best for your body. Keep trying new things, most importantly enjoy preparing and making your food. Be mindful of the foods you choose and how you cook and prepare them. Enjoy going to a farmers market and maybe tonight try cooking something you’ve never cooked before.