Spinach: Nutritional Superstar or Potentially Harmful?

antinutrients

Hello Runners,

I’ll admit I struggled during a recent run. However, it wasn’t with the run itself, but instead with coming up for a topic for this blog post. COVID-19 has disrupted our lives in many ways, and for runners that has included cancelled and postponed events, which has affected training. This has also affected the schedule of blog posts I was going to write and share. So, now I’m trying to be creative and write about other topics that may be beneficial.

One topic that I have heard about in the past and have heard some physicians and nutritionists talk about more recently are antinutrients. So, in this post I thought I would talk about one of these antinutrients and how it might affect you.

What Are Antinutrients and What Do They Do?

Antinutrients are toxins commonly formed in plants to keep animals, bugs, and fungi from eating them. Antinutrients reduce the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. The main categories of antinutrients include lectins, phytates, and oxalates.

In this post, I will specifically discuss oxalates, which are common in some of the vegetables that are considered to have the highest nutritional value. In future posts, I will discuss the other classes of antinutrients.

What Are Oxalates?

Oxalates, also referred to as oxalic acids, are natural compounds found in a variety of food sources. Some of the most common oxalates in food can be found in plant sources such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Oxalates can also be produced naturally by our body. In fact, most of the oxalates we have in our body are from those our body has produced.

In the body, oxalates can combine with calcium and iron to form either calcium oxalate or iron oxalate crystals, which are then excreted in urine, and thus are not be an issue. However, high amounts of oxalates can build up in the kidneys, leading to the formation of kidney stones. An estimated 80% of kidney stones are formed from calcium oxalate.

Also for people sensitive to oxalates, consuming even a small amount can cause burning in the mouth, eyes, ears, and throat. Large doses can lead to muscle weakness, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, especially in people with a high amount of oxalates already in the body.

Besides forming kidney stones, oxalates affect the absorption and bioavailability (ability to be used in the body) of calcium. This is significant because calcium serves several important functions for health and running performance (see below).

Foods High in Oxalates

Although oxalates are found in virtually all foods, there are several foods that are high in oxalate content. Green vegetables, especially spinach, beet greens, okra, leaks, and collards have some of the highest concentrations.

Here is a list of other foods high in oxalates:

Fruits: blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, kiwis, tangerines, figs

Vegetables: broccoli, rhubarb, okra, leeks, beets, potatoes, eggplant, sweet potatoes, zucchini, carrots, celery, olives, rutabaga, chicory parsley, peppers

Leafy Greens: spinach, escarole, beet greens, kale, collards, Swiss chard

Nuts and Seeds: almonds, cashews, peanuts, sesame seeds

Legumes and Soy Products: miso, tofu, soy milk, green beans and kidney beans

Grains: bulgur, corn grits, wheat germ, whole wheat bread, amaranth, buckwheat and quinoa

Beverages: cocoa/chocolate, chocolate milk, black tea, instant coffee, dark beers

I decided to pick on spinach in this post for two reasons. One, spinach has one of the highest oxalate contents of any food. Second, spinach was discussed in a recent interview I heard with Dr. Jayson Calton. In the interview, Dr. Calton spoke on deficiencies that can occur due to lack of micronutrients in our diet and bioavailability of these micronutrients from the foods we consume. Specifically, Dr. Calton discussed a patient of his, who happens to now be his wife, who had advanced stage osteoporosis in her early 30s. Dr. Calton’s wife was consuming a lot of raw vegetables, including a raw spinach salad every day. He shared that by having her minimize the intake of raw spinach, as well as other raw vegetables, and supplementing with specific nutrients, including calcium, she was able to significantly improve her bone health.

So, should we stop eating spinach? Isn’t spinach a nutrient powerhouse?

Benefits of Spinach

Spinach is considered to be one of the world’s healthiest foods, with researchers identifying more than a dozen different types of flavonoid antioxidants alone that are present in spinach, not to mention all of its other vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients. Also, spinach has significant anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and if you combine that with its very low amount of calories, it is easily one of the most nutrient-rich foods in existence.

Spinach contains many important nutrients, which serve many important functions including the following:

  • Protects Against Cancer
  • Defends Against Heart Disease
  • Boosts Immunity
  • Stabilizes Blood Sugar
  • Maintains Healthy Vision
  • Supports Bone Health
  • Keeps Skin Glowing
  • Aids in Detoxification
  • Preserves Brain Health
  • High in Magnesium

For more of details on the benefits of spinach click here

In addition, spinach does contain a significant amount of calcium, which has several important functions for health and running performance.

Important Functions of Calcium 

In addition to its importance for health of the bones and teeth, calcium serves the following important functions:

  • Optimal nerve transmission
  • Blood clotting
  • Hormone secretion
  • Muscle contraction
  • Appetite control
  • Weight loss
  • Controls levels of magnesium, phosphorus and potassium in the blood
  • May help prevent certain cancers

Click here to learn more about the specific benefits of calcium.

Spinach: Nutritional Superstar or Potentially Harmful?

So, now getting back to the question of this post. Should we stop consuming spinach, although it has many nutritional benefits? I have heard some physicians and nutritionists recommend this because of the high concentration of oxalates in spinach and the effect these have on calcium absorption and bioavailability, as well as the possible formation of kidney stones.

However, there are ways to potentially reduce the number of oxalates in certain vegetables, such as spinach, kale, broccoli and sweet potatoes that relate to how these vegetables are prepared. Boiling and steaming are techniques that can reduce oxalate content. Personally, I prefer steaming because this can minimize the loss of other nutrients compared with boiling. Also, soaking some of the high oxalate foods in water and a small amount of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice can potentially reduce the oxalate content. Also, avoid or minimize using raw kale, spinach, or Swiss chard in salads or smoothies. Instead, use greens with lower oxalate content such as green or red leaf or Romaine lettuce in salads and smoothies.

So, you certainly don’t need to give up spinach, especially since it has so many benefits. However, you may want to consider how you prepare it and consider using other greens, in addition to spinach.

However, there are exceptions for those with certain health conditions including: absorptive hypercalciuria and enteric hyperoxaluria. Individuals with these conditions should significantly restrict their consumption of high oxalate foods, such as spinach.

Other Important Factors

Research has shown that the intake of protein, calcium, and water influence the formation of calcium oxalate to a greater degree than the intake of oxalates from specific foods. High-protein intake can lead to kidney stone formation, while too much calcium in the body leads to calcification, crystallization, which can impact the risk for heart disease and kidney issues.

In addition, being properly hydrated is important for flushing the kidneys. This can also aid in removing other toxins from the body. In fact, I recently increased my water intake to about one gallon per day.

Bottomline

As far as the potential negative impact on health and running performance, oxalates are the least harmful of the antinutrients, with other antinutrients including lectins and phytic acid having a potentially greater negative effect. However, you should consider limiting the amount of raw vegetables, like spinach, kale and broccoli that you consume. Steaming can be a good option for these foods in order to lower oxalate content. Also, you may want to use other greens for your salads and smoothies, such as green/red leaf and romaine lettuce that have a significant lower oxalate content. Those individuals with certain conditions, including hyperoxolauria should restrict consumption of foods high in oxalates, especially in raw form. However, for most people there are significant benefits in consuming vegetables such as spinach. Just keep in mind which preparation is best and to include variety. Finally, avoid high-protein intake and consume a sufficient amount of water on a daily basis.

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any way.

Your friend and coach,

Brian

References

Kim Wagner Jones, Lindsay K. Eller, Jill A. Parnell, Patricia K. Doyle-Baker, Alun L. Edwards, and Raylene A. Reimer. Effect of a dairy and calcium rich diet on weight loss and appetite during energy restriction in overweight and obese adults: a randomized trial. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013 Apr; 67(4): 371–376.

Vadim A. Finkielstein and David S. Goldfarb. Strategies for preventing calcium oxalate stones. CMAJ. 2006 May 9; 174(10): 1407–1409.

Noonan SC, Savage GP. Oxalate content of foods and its effect on humans. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 1999 Mar;8(1):64-74.

Mathew D. Sorensen. Calcium intake and urinary stone disease. Transl Androl Urol. 2014 Sep; 3(3): 235–240.

Bendsen NT, Hother AL, Jensen SK, Lorenzen JK, Astrup A. Effect of dairy calcium on fecal fat excretion: a randomized crossover trial. Int J Obes (Lond). 2008 Dec;32(12):1816-24.

Dave Asprey. The Bulletproof Diet.

Yuri Elkaim Super Nutrition Academy. Module 6 Lesson 4 Antinutrients.

Joseph Pizzorno. The Toxin Solution.

Jayson Calton. Supplements Revealed.

https://draxe.com/nutrition/foods-high-in-calcium/

https://draxe.com/nutrition/foods-high-in-calcium/

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/

https://draxe.com/nutrition/spinach-nutrition/

https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/calcium-fact-sheet#q5

What’s Your Hydration and Nutrition Plan for Your Big Race?

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“Plans Are Nothing: Planning is Everything” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Hello Runners,

So, you’ve put in some great training, and you have a goal, and maybe even a purpose higher than yourself, which can get your through some of the toughest portions of your marathon. The weather on your race day is ideal. You’re able to run without any injuries. But, you could still fail to achieve your goal on race day due to dehydration or fatigue caused by burning up all your available carbohydrates.

Therefore, you need a plan before and during your event to make sure you stay as hydrated as possible, and don’t run out of available carbohydrates. Basically, we don’t have enough available carbohydrates in our body to complete a marathon. We need to take on additional carbohydrates during our event.

Where so many runners fail on race day is not having a game plan for how they are going to hydrate and fuel themselves during their event, or they have a game plan ahead of time, but don’t follow through. Also, many runners rely on what’s handed out at the event without practicing with it ahead of time (sports drinks, gels, etc.), and sometimes found out the hard way that what’s handed out is not best for them.

So, what’s your hydration and nutrition strategy for your event? How often will you drink? Will you use a sports drink? If not, what will you eat, so that you have enough energy to finish your marathon? Hopefully, you have been practicing your strategy during your training and have a plan you will use during your big race.

Practice Hydration and Nutrition (Fuel) Strategy During Your Long Runs

Your long training runs are a great time to practice hydration (how often and how much you will drink) and figure out what you will use for fuel during your event, as well as when you will consume this. There are lots of options available as far as fuel, including sports drinks, gels, beans, chews, real food, etc. You may want to practice what will be handed out at your event, that way if it works for you, then you don’t have to carry your own fuel.

Most likely your event won’t have these, but here are some fuel options you might try: SuperStarch by UCAN, Infinit-E by Millenium, and Vitargo. Some other options which are lower in calories, but provide electrolytes include Osmo Nutrition and Skratch Labs. Ideally, practice under similar conditions that you will experience during your event.

The Week Before Your Event

Before I talk more about your hydration and fueling strategy during your event, I will mention what you should do both the week of and the day before your event. After all, you want to start out with a full tank, otherwise, you will be trying to play catch up during your event, and that won’t work and will negatively impact your performance.

So, be sure to hydrate well throughout the week before, and especially the day before your event. Limit alcohol consumption during that week, as well, especially the day before your event. At a minimum you should be consuming half your body weight in ounces of water each day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should consume at least 75 ounces of water per day.

During the week of the event, this is the time to load up on carbohydrates, including grains, starchy vegetables, and fruits (such as blueberries). You should also be consuming proteins including nuts, seeds, beans, tempeh, fish, other meats, if you normally eat them. Fats are the nutrient you need least during the week of your event.

It is popular for events to have pasta dinners the night before an event. This is more traditional than beneficial. This pasta will really not help you during your event. In fact, you may want to have a salad with some nuts or a small bowl of pasta or white rice for dinner, and eat a larger meal for lunch or in the early afternoon. This larger meal should consist primarily of easily-digestible carbohydrates (such as white rice and white pasta), with some protein, and little fat. Avoid spicy foods and any new foods. Beware of eating a lot of fiber the day before an event and FODMAP foods (beans, onions, garlic, dried fruit, apples, pears, etc.), which can cause gas and bloating.

During Your Event

Don’t consume anything on race day that you haven’t practiced with during your training. Several years ago, when I was living in Maryland, I made an annual habit of running the Baltimore half-marathon. I really enjoyed that event and the crowd support throughout much of the event was great! Within the last few miles of the event there were people who traditionally would hand out gummy bears. Boy, was it tempting! Many people indulged. I passed and recommend you do the same. If you want gummy bears, have them after the race.

General guidelines for hydration

Water loss through sweat of as little as 2% can negatively affect performance, if fluids aren’t replaced because of:

  • Decreased blood volume resulting in the heart having to work harder
  • Increased usage of carbohydrates which can lead to fatigue happening sooner
  • Ability to dissipate heat is reduced
  • Imbalance of electrolytes which can cause cramping and weakness
  • Possible cognitive impairment

Keep in mind this will depend on your sweat rate and the conditions of your event. If you sweat profusely you will likely need to include electrolytes as well. In general you should consume 250 to 500 mg of electrolytes per hour. See previous post. During your event drink 3-8 ounces of fluids every 15-20 minutes (a gulp is ~ one ounce), basically drink to thirst.

General guidelines for nutrition

The main cause of fatigue in those participating in endurance events is running out of available carbohydrates in the body. You will need to determine if you will use fluids or solids for your carbohydrate fuel, and which you will use. If using solids, you may want to wash these down with water, don’t use a sports drink to wash them down. During your event, make sure you using something that doesn’t bother your stomach, contains little or no fiber and that you consume 30-60 grams of carbohydrate (~120-160 calories) every hour. For events lasting 4 hours or longer you may want to consume ~60 grams/hour.

Other Considerations

Keep in mind that you may need to carry your own fuel, whether it’s a sports drink or solid, during your event. This has been pretty much the case for me in every marathon I’ve run. I don’t do well with the sports drinks typically handed out at events.

Even if you have a strategy, you may need to develop a plan B and possibly plan C. What if you encounter heat and humidity during your event? What if they run out of sports drink or water at an aid station? (This happened at the Chicago marathon several years ago).

You should be well-hydrated before the start of your event. You should have eaten a well-balanced diet on the day before your event to ensure that carbohydrate stores in the body are maximized. Also, you should start calorie and fluid replacement early in your event.

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any way.

Your friend and coach,

Brian

P.S. If you know anyone who might benefit from this email, please share this with them. Also, if this was beneficial, please “Like” our page. Thank you.

References

Bob Seebohar “Triathlon Nutritional Strategies” USA Triathlon Level I Coaching Certification Clinic June 7, 2013, Englewood, CO.

Luke Humphrey with Ketih & Kevin Hanson. Hansons Marathon Method. Velopress, Boulder, CO, 2012.

Ben Greenfield. Beyond Training. Victory Belt Publishing, Las Vegas, NV, 2014.

Matt Fitzgerald . Marathon Roadmap The Plant-Based Guide To Conquering Your First 26.2.

Marathon Training 2019 Day 41: Dehydration Is Keeping Your From Achieving Your Running Goals, and Negatively Impacting Your Health

February 24 long run“Water is the driving force of all nature.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Today I ran for ~10 miles, primarily flat area, and then included 3 x 8-second hill sprints at the end. I made sure to stay well-hydrated before, during, and after this run, which relates to the Tip of the Day. Immediately after my run I performed the following stability, mobility, and strengthening exercises:

  • Leg swings forward and back with straight leg and bent leg (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Leg swings side-to-side with straight leg and bent leg (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Front lunges (while swinging opposite arm, 5 repetitions for each leg)
  • Lunges at a 45 degree angle in front (while swinging opposite arm, 5 repetitions for each leg)
  • Side lunges (5 repetitions for each leg)
  • Lunges at a 45 degree in back (5 repetitions for each leg)
  • Back lunges (5 repetitions for each leg)

Then I performed foam rolling, especially for hamstrings, quadriceps/hip flexors, and calves for ~15 minutes.

Recommendations: I recommend following the prescribed run according to the Fitness Training Program, as well as performing the prescribed exercises and a cool-down. Make sure to stay well-hydrate before, during, and after your run.

Tip of the day: Not being properly hydrated will negatively impact your running performance, thus prevent you from achieving your running goals, and can negatively impact your health. First, not being properly hydrated will affecting your body’s ability to carry oxygen to your running muscles, which is vital to energy production. As a result, you will most likely have to slow your pace, if you are dehydrated. Dehydration can also negatively impact your body’s ability to cool itself when you run, which can also force you to reduce your pace or have to stop altogether. Water is the environment that a lot of our body’s cells processes occur in, such as energy production, as well as other functions, and thus will be negatively affected when we are dehydrated.

In addition, to negatively impacting running performance, dehydration can have other effects. Mild dehydration, which many of us can experience, can lead to fatigue, hunger, headaches, and adverse effects on mood and energy, which can negatively impact our performance at work and our interactions with colleagues, friends, and loved ones. Severe dehydration can lead to blood clots, seizures, and other potentially fatal complications.

So stay hydrated. Typically, I have some water right before I start my runs. I also typically bring water with me during my runs, especially runs lasting longer than 30 minutes. I also have water right after I finish my runs.  During the rest of the day, you should continue to stay well-hydrated to help you with your performance for your next workout. At a minimum, you should consume the number of ounces equal to your body weight in pounds divided by 2. For example, I weigh 154 pounds. So, at a minimum I should consume 77 (154/2) ounces of water. For longer runs, and if you sweat profusely, you certainly will want to be consuming more. I recommend consuming water for any runs lasting longer than 30 minutes and recommend consuming enough water to quench your thirst every 15-20 minutes. One way to access hydration status is by checking your urine color. A pale yellow color urine occurring several times during the day are signs that you are most likely well hydrated. A dark yellow color most likely indicates that you are not properly hydrated, unless you are consuming supplements that affect urine color.

In a future posts, I will talk about electrolytes and nutrition during your runs.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any way.

Stay hydrated!

Your friend and coach,

Brian

Marathon Training 2019 Day 14: Simple Things You Can Do At Work To Make Yourself a Better Runner

November 13 2018 Birthday hike pic 3 medium version“Your true success in life begins only when you make the commitment to become excellent at what you do” – Brian Tracy

Today was a non-running day for me.  Instead, I went for a nice, snowy walk with my dog Zadar. After my walk I performed the following exercises:

 

  • Leg swings forward and back with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Leg swings side-to-side with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Single-leg stand (~30 seconds for each leg)
  • Prone planks (~35 seconds)
  • Side planks (~25 seconds)
  • Supine planks (~20 seconds)
  • Single-leg balance (~30 seconds for each leg)

During the day I also performed leg swings and single-leg balance. I try to do this throughout the day, but certainly get up and walk and get water every hour. These simple acts can help improve your running performance. See more below in the Tip of the Day.

Recommendation: Today, I recommend a brisk walk or hike of 20-30 minutes. Immediately after your walk or hike I recommend performing the exercises listed above. If you sit for long periods throughout the day, I recommend getting up every hour and at least walking and getting water. I also recommend performing exercises like leg swings and single-leg stands and balance throughout the day.

Tip of the Day:  It can be extremely beneficial to perform certain activities while at work to support your running.  Most of us spend a significant amount of the day seated at a desk.  It is important to get up periodically (I recommend at least every hour) and move around, get some water and incorporate exercises such as leg swings and single leg balance and/or stands.  These can help you stay well-hydrated, reduce tightness in the hip flexors, and improve balance and stability on one leg (we spend a significant time on one foot when running). Here is a video that demonstrates these and other tips that you can do at work to help support your running:

http://www.denverrunningcoach.com/five-things-you-can-do-at-work-to-make-yourself-a-better-runner/

I recommend accumulating 5-10 minutes total of single-leg stands/balance throughout the day. However, do not do this all at one time.

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any way.

Be your best self today!

Your friend and coach,

Brian

Tips For Marathon Day Nutrition

Tips for Marathon Day Nutrition

Recently, an article in Men’s Health Online summarized the results of a research study that suggested proper marathon day nutrition could improve your marathon time by as much as eleven minutes. In this same article, I offered some tips on marathon day nutrition.

Here is the link to the article:

http://news.menshealth.com/the-easy-fix-for-a-faster-marathon/2013/10/04/

In this article, I basically outline a strategy to stay properly fueled during a marathon in order to minimize fatigue and injury-risk, as well as help with finish time, and have a successful marathon experience. In this blog I expand upon this strategy and offer additional tips.

Find the Fuel That Works For You

There are lots of options to fuel you during a marathon. Sports drinks, gels, sports beans, foods such as bananas, pretzels, oranges, dried figs, etc. I encourage you to try out different fuel options during your training long runs to determine the one that works best for you. Trying a fuel out for the first time on marathon day is a potential recipe for disaster! Also during training, I recommend you try whatever fuel will be provided at the marathon. If this fuel works best for you, then you won’t have to carry other fuels during the marathon, and just take it at the aid stations. Notes on aid stations: If fuel is provided at aid stations on the right and left, choose the left side. This side is usually less crowded. Also, I recommend you walk when you are consuming the fuel. Don’t try to take it while running, unless you are already skilled at this, because you will probably end up dumping a significant portion. Beware that aid stations may run out of the fuel that you are counting on using. So, it is always good to carry some backup fuel, especially if you run at the back of the pack. You can also have friends and family strategically placed on the course with your fuel of choice (see below).

Fuel Up During the Week of the Marathon

Would you start a long trip with your gas tank only half full, or on empty? I hope not, and you shouldn’t on marathon day. Be sure that you are fueling your body with vegetables (especially leafy greens and sweet potatoes), vegetable (such as tempeh, beans, and legumes) and lean proteins, unsaturated fats (such as olive oil and avocados), fruits (especially blueberries and raspberries), and grains (such as brown and wild rice, steel-cut oats, and quinoa), throughout the week preceding your marathon. Approximately 55-65% of your calorie intake should come from carbohydrates. Although simple sugars are a source of carbohydrates, their consumption should be minimized during meals, dessert, and snacks. Don’t rely on the pasta dinner the night before the marathon to bring your carbohydrate levels up to full. Although the pasta dinner the night before a marathon has become a fun tradition, your body may not have enough time to fully digest and use it and it may cause GI issues. Finally, make sure you stay well-hydrated and get plenty of sleep throughout the week of the marathon.

Fuel Up on Marathon Day

The most important meal of the day is breakfast, and it’s no different on marathon day. I recommend that you have a meal of approximately 200-500 calories two to four hours before your event. This meal should be low in fat, and composed primarily of carbohydrate foods that can be easily digested. As I mentioned in the Men’s Health article, some good options would be oatmeal and almond or peanut butter on a banana. Orange juice and toast with almond or peanut butter is another good option. The composition and timing of the meal should be practiced during training. Again, you want to determine, before marathon day, what is going to work best for you. Additionally, consumption of carbohydrates within 5 minutes of the start of a marathon can be beneficial. This could be in the form of a sports drink, gel, banana, etc. Again, this is something that you should practice in training. Caution should be used in consuming carbohydrates 15 to 45 minutes before the marathon because of the possibility of developing hypoglycemia shortly after you begin running. Also, consume about 500 ml or 16 ounces of water two hours before the marathon.

Follow Your Fueling/Hydration Plan

Based on what you found out during your training, you should have a plan as far as fueling during the marathon. Research has shown that runners need approximately 30-90 grams of carbohydrate per hour during the marathon. The wide range is due to factors such as body size, level of training, and even diet. You should start taking your fuel no later than 40 minutes into the marathon. After this, I would recommend fueling every 20-30 minutes to get the proper amount of carbohydrates that you need each hour. Also, you should be drinking 3-7 ounces of fluid approximately every 15-20 minutes. This could be water or sports drink or you could alternate. If you feel thirsty you should drink additional fluids. Being dehydrated can trigger diarrhea. To make sure you follow your fueling/hydration plan, set a watch alarm and/or use strategically placed friends and family (see below). Also, depending on your pace, you can determine which miles you should be taking water and/or fuel. Make sure you stick with you fueling/hydration plan!

Get A Little Help From Your Friends and Family

If possible, have friends or family strategically placed, with your fuel of choice, at various points in the marathon. Also, if they can, have them run a mile our two with you to provide a welcome lift.

Don’t Forget the Electrolytes

During the marathon you will lose electrolytes, primarily through sweat and urine. You will need to replace these electrolytes, which are vital for muscle contraction and fluid balance within the body. Sodium is the primary electrolyte that will need to be replaced (approximately 300-500 milligrams/hour). So your fuel of choice should contain sodium, or you will need to include something that will provide sodium, such as adding sea salt to water (0.5 to 0.7 grams of sodium/Liter of water).

Refuel Soon After the Marathon

Ideally, within the first thirty minutes of completion of your marathon, and especially within the first two hours, you should begin refueling with carbohydrates and protein. The mixture should be approximately 4:1 carbohydrates to protein. There are specific recovery drinks formulated in this ratio. If you are like me and would rather consume foods instead, then consume bananas with peanut or almond butter. Energy bars can work as well. Delaying refueling after your marathon will significantly hinder replenishment of stores of carbohydrates within your body and slow recovery. Every 1-2 hours for 5-6 hours, you should continue consuming carbohydrates and protein. Consume water to replace sweat losses during the marathon (24 ounces per pound lost). Also, consume foods or recovery drinks with sodium to replace that lost during the marathon.

See you on the road or trail.

Brian