The cupcake saved me.
On my visit to the nutritionist this week, she asked me what I ate before, during and after the Buffalo Half Marathon. While technically not “racing” the event, it was a competition, a long endurance workout, and a great chance to practice how to best fuel my body.
I had to think. I started the day with my normal race-day oatmeal and raisins. During the race I had Clif Shot Blocks, water and Gatorade. But what about after? I had water and Gatorade and grabbed a banana. About an hour later I met up with Sue for bagels and smoothies at Panera. But that seemed not quite right. Wait! That’s right. I had a cupcake from my mother in celebration of my birthday within half an hour of finishing the race. I was a bit embarrassed to tell her I ate a cupcake. Not the perfect health food. But, as she crunched the numbers, it turned out that the cupcake boosted my carbohydrate intake and put me right around where I should have been.
My nutritionist went over my post-long workout food intake along with my food journals in our meeting this week. While her analysis isn’t complete, she did offer observations. Some days, my overall caloric intake and protein were right on target. Other days they were too light. Well, let’s amend that: They were light for me.
“If you were a normal woman, this day would be just fine,” she said. “But you’re not normal.”
I tried to hide a big smile. The “not normal” verdict was a good thing. And a good reminder for me. My hobby, my passion and my lifestyle require slightly different eating habits than those espoused on daytime talk television. I am combining lots of vigorous training with a primarily vegetarian diet and a generally active life including work, home and play. And I believe food can be fuel for my journey and a fun part of the journey. While I am sure I could trim down a few pounds and possibly work for a washboard stomach, I would probably have to give up pancakes. And a world without pancakes is not one I want to be living in. That is a choice I make.
The good news from the nutritionist is that I don’t have to “perfect” to have a good diet. She offered no judgement on my post-race cupcake. Heck, it helped me get the carbs I needed. My goal is to learn how my body works and what works for my body. My goal is to keep my body healthy so I can continue to do the things I love and have energy to enjoy all aspects of my life. That includes such boring concepts as “healthy balance” and “moderation.” But then again, it also includes pancakes.
For those interested in some of the nitty-gritty that I’ve learned from my nutritionist trips here are some technical highlights:
Protein for vegetarians
Dairy and soy products are complete proteins, meaning they contain all the essential amino acids needed by the body. Other sources of protein are incomplete, having only some of the essential amino acids. Combining incomplete proteins can create complete proteins. The combination formula includes mixing nuts, seeds and legumes with grains and vegetables.
Nutrition for endurance athletes
Time for some math: Find your weight in kilograms by dividing your weight in pounds by 2.2
- Protein: 1.2-1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight
- Carbohydrates: 6-10 grams per kilogram of body weight
- Calories: 50 per kilogram of body weight with a minimum of 50 percent from carbohydrates.