Friday, March 13, 2009

Running and Nutrition

I've been leading a Learn to Run group (one more session to go), and also attending a half marathon clinic. Between the two groups I've attended three nutrition talks recently.

My only clear take-aways:

1. Drink water lukewarm or body temp, not cold
2. The single most likely reason for sore muscles is dehydration--so drink lots

One person said take protein shakes--people who work out a lot will need the extra protein. Another person said the protein in shakes is not the best compared to actual food, and it might end up either as waste or fat. Wikipedia seems to confirm that very few people actually suffer from a protein deficiency. It might make sense that high performance athletes (not really people like me) need more protein, but the body can only process so much.

My guru on nutrition is Leslie Beck in the Globe and Mail. She has re-iterated that coffee has now been found not to be a diuretic, causing de-hydration, for most people. If you are used to it, your cups of coffee count as part of your liquid for the day. This is contrary to all the nutrition talks I have seen live recently. She also seems good on supplements. Calcium, probably yes, Vitamin D when you're not getting enough sun, maybe fish oil tablets with salmon for the good kind of Omega 3. But in general, rely as much as possible on actual food--fresh fruit and veg, whole grains, flax, dark berries, a few almonds, a very few walnuts, oregano--and as little as possible on supplements.

Like a lot of runners, I take glucosamine with chondroitin for joints, etc. One of our speakers said forget the chondroitin--it's expensive, and the body can't process it. For a while I was skipping it altogether since the glucosamine sulfate is a type of salt--possibly bad for high blood pressure. But now I'm not worried about that, so it's back on the pills.

I take zinc, rightly or wrongly.

I've found steel-cut oatmeal--the kind that's good for you, but normally takes 20 minutes to prepare--in a frozen form. I hope this is at least as beneficial as a good mix of whole grain dry cereals.

The nutrition speakers tended to discourage anything artificial: genetically modified foods or gmo's, anything microwaved, almost anything cooked. Yet they are also favourable to supplements, apparently they don't trust big business to provide the nutrients we need. But, but ... supplements don't grow on trees.

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