Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fueling for a Run: Artificial vs. Real Food

I recently read an article posted online by a dietician that was encouraging athletes to get their energy from natural sources rather than pre-packaged ones.  As I read through the article, it seemed very impractical.  After each recommendation, I wanted to ask, "Do you know someone who does this?!?"  because I sure don't.  The highlights included:

Recommendation: Using honey straws instead of GU or gels
My Opinion:  I actually compared the nutritional value of honey vs. GU Roctane (the kind I use).  Both have roughly the same amount of calories, however, Roctane has more sodium.  I like knowing that I am getting sodium when I have Roctane because sodium prevents cramping.  Cramping is not fun, and makes people run slower.  Also, Gus are easy to run with, as many running shorts have special pockets specifically for them.  However, carrying honey straws?  I would be worrying about them leaking on me during a race, that is if I found somewhere to keep them.  There is no question here - I'm for GU 100%.

Recommendation: Using dried fruit, animal crackers, pretzels, fig newtons, bananas, apples or oranges instead of chomps
 My Opinion: I don't use chomps, but I occasionally eat ShotBloks while running.  Once again, I think it would be incredibly difficult to carry any of the items mentioned above with me while running.  I don't wear a SPIbelt or anything like it but even if I did I don't think those items would fit in it.  I can say that I've been hungry on a run before and thought about what I wanted to eat when I was done, or what sounded good right them.  The items above, all of which I eat, have never crossed by mind on a run.  Once again, I'm 100% in favor or using chomps.

Recommendation: Peanut butter and jelly or peanut buter and honey sandwiches, oatmeal cookies, Larabars, or trail mix instead of bars.
My Opinion: I eat some type of bar almost every day before I workout, or in between the gym and driving to the path where I run.  They are convenient, give me the every I need, don't make my stomach hurt, and come in a variety of flavors.  My favorites are Luna and Clif.  I really don't know why a person would eat oatmeal cookies before running.  I know trail mix does not work for me - nuts before running don't sit well in my stomach.  Larabars are bars, so I don't know why they were put there.  I don't really like Larabars because I find the consistency gross.  Once again, I'll take my go-to bars that taste good and are convenient.

Recommendation: 100% fruit juice diluted with water and a pinch of salt instead of sports drink
My Opinion: Why?  Pretty much if you follow the recommendation you are making a homemade sports drink.  I guess if you didn't like any of the flavors then it would be beneficial, but I'll stick to my Cool Blue Gatorade after each run.

Recommendation: Low fat chocolate milk instead of protein shakes.
My Opinion: For once, this is the first recommendation that I know people actually follow.  Many of my running friends refuel after their long runs with chocolate milk.  I, however, don't like milk so I never do that.  I also don't like protein shakes, so both things don't work for me.

I found the majority of these recommendations to be not realistic unless you would like to wear a fanny pack while running.  Personally, I'll stick with my artificial food, save myself time, and have better runs.

What is the oddest recommendation you've heard?

1 comment:

  1. Now that I'm back into ultratraining, I like this advice. I find that when the long runs go beyond 3 hours, eating "real" food leads to better results. But for marathon and shorter, I agree with everything you're saying for the reasons you suggest, but also because it's so critical to know the exact carb count of everything I consume. Prepackaged foods might not be as healthy, but they're much easier to calculate insulin for, and for us, that's part of the battle.