By Diana Dixon,2014-07-08 09:51
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    Gel-Free for Marathons

    KINE 628 7/05/2011

    Nicholas Ng

    Sports drinks, energy gels, goo and bars have a large presence in sporting events for good reason: they work. R&D teams have extracted, processed, and packaged what we deem as the essential nutrients for exercise into convenient, all-in-one products. Gels and bars deliver carbohydrates while minimizing stomach distress, and drinks deliver some carbohydrates and emphasize electrolytes. While these products do work, they are expensive for the calories. Whole foods often contain more nutrients and interactions that can benefit bioavailability or function in the body. Without other chemical or nutrient interactions present in a food, a certain nutrient may not work as effectively. According to Jacobs & Tapsell, studies and interventions based around a single nutrient often do not produce expected results. Though the science is still relatively new in this area, they promote the use of whole foods in which several factors work synergistically to help our bodies. To the runner that emphasizes natural foods for health, or simply wants to save a little cash and know what is in his or her food, whole foods are a very good alternative.

    The key nutrients needed for endurance running are water, carbohydrates and electrolytes. During exercise, body temperature rises and blood is diverted from the muscles to skin to dissipate heat. Secondly, water is lost by sweating. Drinking water replaces the fluid lost from sweat, cools internal temperature and redistributes blood to working muscles, allowing for higher intensity performance for a longer duration. A key factor in performance is staying hydrated, and water paired with whole foods can offer the same benefit of gels and sports drinks.

    Carbohydrates are the primary fuel source and usually the limiting factor in marathons. Runners that lack sufficient glycogen stores (the body’s storage form of glucose) during a race often “hit the wall” and cannot physically finish the race. In endurance events lasting more than one hour, physiologists and sport nutritionists recommend consuming 40-75g carbohydrate per hour to delay fatigue. During a run, convenient and easily digestible carbs are the fuel of choice. To get 20-30g of carbs at a time, cereal or granola bars cut into bite size pieces (1 bar), tortillas (7-8” flour), white bread (2 slices), pancakes (6”

    diameter), waffles (6” diameter) or rice cakes (also known as mochi) (22-30 g) can be eaten on the go. Dried fruit, jams, and honey can top these cereal products to make them more palatable while delivering more carbs.

    To prevent cramping from endurance running, electrolytes such as sodium and potassium are needed in small amounts. Sports drinks heavily market this aspect, but natural foods can contain even more than sport drinks. Bananas are famous for their high potassium, and milk (if you can stomach it) and soy milk have more electrolytes than many sports drinks. Coconut water has attracted attention in recent years as a high electrolyte beverage with a small amount of carbs.

    In place of energy gels and sports drinks, water and coconut water along with some refined cereals with jam are a complete alternative. As with all of nutrition, individuality is key and experimentation with foods during training is vital to limit surprises during a race.

    Gel-Free for Marathons

    KINE 628 7/05/2011

    Nicholas Ng

; "Diet for Marathon Runners Competition Nutrition." Web. 05 July 2011.

    ; Jacobs, D., & Tapsell, L.. (2007). Food, Not Nutrients, Is the Fundamental Unit in

    Nutrition. Nutrition Reviews, 65(10), 439-50.

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