4/20/15

Happy tummy, post long-run fueling


Saltines post run? Yes please!

Many runners experience GI issues or have a low appetite post run due to a variety of reasons. According to research, many elite runners experience diarrhea after long races and stomach issues are often the number one reason as to why runners are not comfortable fueling before and during workouts and on race day. Athletes would rather run slower or risk bonking over an upset tummy but if this is you, please don't feel that you will never be able to tolerate nutrition before and during workouts. Consult a sport RD who can help. 

Although there are a few tricks to fueling smarter before and during run workouts and pacing better to minimize GI issues, we all know its critical to refuel with carbohydrates post workout to replenish glycogen stores.

So how do you maximize recovery without making your tummy upset post workout?


Recommended foods post workout should be high glycemic and easy to digest along with your favorite protein-rich drink (recommend up to 25-30g liquid protein).

Because fiber and fat slows food passage into the intestines, optimize the best glycogen replenishing foods post workout to best facilitate glucose transport into muscles. 


Practical recommendations are to consume high-glycemic, carb-rich foods as soon as possible post workout. However, I prefer to say "when tolerable" to avoid a very angry belly post workout. After a very hot/sweaty or intense workouts the gut receives little blood to help fuel the muscles. Consequently, after the workout is over and your HR drops, a rush of blood goes the gut post workout which will cause digestion of food/nutrition contents and can cause a very uncomfortable feeling (and you running to the nearest potty).

High/moderate glycemic carbs include: bananas, raisins, corn chex cereal, pasta, pineapple, melon, beets, brown rice, cereal, potatoes, white rice, corn, honey, corn, peas, pasta, oatmeal, sweet potatoes and oranges.

Also to this list, one of my favs..... Saltines!

5 saltine crackers contain 63 calories, 1.4g protein and 11g carbs and  153mg sodium. Combine with a piece of fruit and you are well on your way to speeding-up the recovery process and healing the gut post workout. 

Saltines are also a great pre-workout snack too! 

Remember athletes, proper fueling is not always "healthy" so make sure your daily diet supports your health needs while your sport nutrition regime fuels your performance 

To maximize recovery after an endurance-focused workout, consume 50-75g of high to moderate glycemic carbs every 2 hours until 500g carbs (or 2000 calories) is reached. Or aim for 7-10g carbs per kg body weight as a replenishment goal.
A sample of ~50g carbs would be 1 banana (30g) + 1.5 cup milk (20g) = 45g carbs. 

Make sure you avoid foods that do not tolerate well in your gut post workout. Every athlete is different. One of my most favorite recovery snacks is a glass of milk, a few saltines and a banana but that may not work for everyone.

With optimal carb intake, your glycogen stores replenish about 5-7% per hour so it can take up to 20 hours to reestablish glycogen stores after a glycogen depleting workout. With your recovery window open all day, a happy gut means prioritizing your recovery nutrition throughout the day and not neglecting eating post workout, overeating post workout or going long hours without eating.

Keep in mind that you can not always go by feel when it comes to how you fuel before, during and after workouts. The human body does not always tell us what it needs or when it needs it.
High intensity aerobic exercise for an hour decreases liver glycogen by about 55% and a 2-hour strenuous workout almost depletes the glycogen content of liver and active muscle fibers. Therefore, consuming carbohydrates before, during and after workouts not only helps you postpone fatigue by increasing carb availability to active muscles but helps with recovery, keeps your immune system healthy and keeps your hormones balanced. 

For more helpful info on pre-workout fueling:
Pre-workout fuel: it's not healthy eating
Pre-workout fuel: Part II