Fueling your body at home and in the parks
Feeding the marathon-training machine that is your
Friday, June 10, 2005
by Lani Teshima, staff editor
Last month, I inadvertently got sidetracked and talked at
length about folks planning on Getting
Goofy by entering both marathon and half-marathon events at
next January's Walt Disney World Marathon weekend. Today, we get back
on track and look at some easy tips for how to fuel your body (including
on your Disney vacation) to get your body feeling good on the inside.
First off, I am not a certified nutritionist. There are many good nutritional
plans out there, and if you are trying to lose weight while getting in
shape, you should see your doctor and get yourself checked out first to
make sure you don't have any outstanding issues like high blood pressure
that could affect what you should eat or how you work out.
Most marathon organizers offer a pre-event dinner where they serve mounds
of pasta for participants in what is termed "carbo loading."
The theory is that by gorging on carbohydrates before the race, you will
give yourself plenty of energy with which to complete the event.
The truth for most people, according to noted marathon trainer Jeff Galloway,
is that unless you are on a very strict carbohydrate-depleted diet right
up until the end of your training, a carbo loading dinner will not make
much of a difference. Does that mean you shouldn't enjoy the carbo loading
party? Of course not. Just don't overeat; think of a carbo loading party
as one of the activities you do to get you into the spirit and excitement
of the race event; not as a necessary means to obtain energy. Most trainers
will suggest that you eat as you normally eat, and avoiding unusual foods
that may give you gastric problems on the day of the race.
Gatoradeor Powerade at Walt Disney Worldis a popular electrolyte
replacement drink. If you are exercising longer than an hour, you might
consider drinking some sports drink to help energize your body. However,
be careful; if you read the instructions of the sports drinks, most of
them will tell you to drink equal amounts of water with the drink. If
all you have are cups of sports drinks, you will not be hydrating your
body properly. Diluting your sports drink into a 50 percent solution with
water is an easy way to stay hydrated.
Be careful not to drink sports drinks instead of water during the day
when you are not exercising. Sports drinks, although uncabonated, still
pack a lot of sugar in them (which you are expected to use as fuel when
you are exercising). They are definitely not low-calorie products, and
if you are watching how much processed sugar you consume, it's definitely a
red flag to stay away from.
Dean Karnazes, the self-entitled "Ultramarathon Man" who has
run many marathons (including 10 marathons non-stopyep, 262 miles)
suggests drinking children's Pedialyte electrolyte replacement drinks
instead of sports drinks. Karnazes says it gives you good amounts of electrolytes
but is not loaded with sugar the way sports drinks are.
Everyone should be drinking 64 ounces of water a day (that comes out
to eight glasses of water), but make sure to increase your water intake
if you are exercising. Long gone are the days when the P.E. teacher would
warn students not to drink any water during sports class to avoid cramping;
drinking water is an important part of working out. According to most
authorities, you should drink 1 or 2 cups of water before your workout,
and drink anywhere from 1/3 to a full cup of water every 10 to 15 minutes
that you work out (especially if you are outdoors in heat). In addition,
a good rule of thumb is to not count the water you drink as part of your
workout into your 64-ounce daily water recommendation.
Are you not in the habit of drinking 64 ounces of water everyday? Your
body may be in a permanently dehydrated state and you might not even know
it. A lot of people mistake their feeling of thirst for hunger, and while
eating allows your body to obtain some water from the food you eat, you
might consider drinking a cool glass of water if you are feeling like
a snack. If you are really hungry, that cup of water will not make your
hunger go away.
Some people have difficulty drinking plain water. Be careful not to substitute
it with (sugar-laden) soda and/or caffeinated products (which act as a
diuretic and make you lose more water than you drink). Consider keeping
a big pitcher of water in your refrigerator at all times, since a tall
class of chilled water may be far more palatable than a cup of tap water.
If you feel the need for some flavoring, try a squeeze of lemon or a mint
sprig. If you really still can't stand it, consider drinking club soda.
It's kind of like drinking soda, but without the sugar or caffeine.
It's not that difficult to drink eight glasses of water a day, if you ration it out throughout the day. Try this simple trick:
- Keep a bottle of water at your beside. If you wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, drink a glass of water as well. Otherwise, drink your first glassful when you wake up, before you even leave your bed.
- Drink your second glass right before, or with your breakfast.
- Drink your third glass with your mid-morning snack or by itself, perhaps around an hour before lunch.
- Drink your fourth glass with your lunch.
- Drink your fifth glass in the mid-afternoon, either by itself, or with your afternoon snack.
- Drink your sixth glass of water as soon as you get home from work or school.
- Drink your seventh glass with your dinner.
- Drink your eighth glass after dinner, and as late as when you start getting ready for bed.
Be warned that for the first few days as you body adjusts to being properly hydrated, you will be running to the bathroom more often than what you are used to. This is normal.
As important as it is to drink lots of water, there is such a thing as
too much water. If you are on a very long run during your marathon
training, be careful to augment your water intake with electrolytes (or
salt). If you drink too much water and become overhydrated (and you throw off your body's natural balance of water to sodium), you run the
risk of experiencing a life-threatening condition called hyponatrenia.
Hyponatrenia is especially dangerous for endurance sports like marathons,
and it has been known to kill people.
The best way to prevent hyponatrenia is to maintain your sodium levels.
Researchers recommend that combine your water intake with that of a sports
drink, and to add salt to your food in the days before the race (presuming
you do not have a medical condition that prohibites or discourages salt,
like high blood pressure). Some marathoners and triathletes are even known
to eat salty snacks like pretzels and potato chips during the latter portions
of their endurance events! That's not for everyone, so some marathoners
carry electrolyte tablets with them during their races.
Everyone wants to know what the secret is to losing weight and keeping
it off. Perhaps you've registered for the WDW Marathon with the hopes
of losing weight. As you increase your mileage during training, it's possible
to lose your fat, get lighter, and increase your pace. But you might be
disappointed to hear that there's no real secret. All you need to is move
your body, and don't eat so much that your body decides to store the excess
as fat. But as a person who is exercising regularly, you need to make
sure you are eating certain foods, such as protein, so provide your body
with a way to gain muscle (while losing fat).
The recent low-carb craze has mellowed out to a more relaxed approach
this year, with a generally agreed-upon philosophy that carbohydrates
are fine as long as you get it from whole grains, vegetables, and fruits
(the South Beach Diet follows this philosophy). For athletes,
eating healthy can help your performance as well. So instead of reaching
for ice cream, try a yogurt instead. Always have a big bowl of fruit in
your kitchen, and avoid purchasing those middle-aisle foodsthe
ones with labels that tell you contents may have settled during shipment (because they mostly used processed sugars and starches)and
make the bulk of your purchases from the fresh vegetable and fruit section.
It's important to eat protein while you're training, since you need to
maintain good muscle tone (not to mention muscle gain). Foods like grilled
salmon and grilled chicken are particularly good for you. As we head into
the summer, fire up your outdoor grill for some healthy eats.
Do you skip breakfast? Try to get into the habit of having something
for breakfast; your digestive system has been resting all night, and you
need to get your engines started. Eating breakfast also keeps you sated
and discourages you from overeating at lunch.
Eating well in the parks
A lot of times, you go on vacation and throw caution to the wind, eating
everyhting in sight of things you don't touch at home. While eating treats
is OK, remember that your body may be off-kilter from the jet lag and
travel, added stress of being on vacation (yes, you can stress out if
you're going somewhere for vacation), and the convenience of eating out
for every single meal. so while you can treat yourself, consider some
things to stick to and you will feel better when you get home.
Don't skip breakfast during vacation. You might be too excited about
showing up at the start of park opening that you are tempted to skip breakfast
altogether. If you don't have time for a sit-down breakfast, buy some
breakfast bars or fruit to keep in your room, that you can munch on as
you make your way to the park. If you want to make time for breakfast,
consider staying at a hotel with free continental breakfast. Of course,
if one of your big events for your trip is to enjoy a breakfast at Cinderella's
Royal Table at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, by all means enjoy!
Just don't make huge breakfast buffets a daily activity during your trip.
While we go on vacation, many of us tend to just eat out for every meal.
This can become expensive pretty quickly, both for our wallets and waistlines.
In addition to buying breakfast bars or fruit for breakfast, why not bring
a small (collapsible) cooler with you to store healthy snacks? Many grocery
stores now carry snack-sized packs of fresh vegetables. You can store
snacks like veggies, fruit, cheese sticks and yogurt in your cooler, and
fill it with ice from the hotel.
If you're a fan of peanut butter and jelly, you can even buy a loaf of
whole wheat bread and make your own PBJs for evening snacks. Just don't
eat right before you go to bed; most nutritional authorities tell you
that's just asking for the calories to go right to your waistline.
Consider focusing on one big meal for the day instead of eating at restaurants
for both lunch and dinner. One way to keep your portions manageable is
to order a salad and split an entree. Avoid foods you wouldn't normally
eat at home, Go with lighter sauces, such as marinara instead of alfredo.
Do you like to write trip reports when you visit the parks? If so, consider
keeping a food journal as well. It might be enlightening to see how much
or how poorly you eat while on vacation. On the other hand, you might
surprise yourself at how well you are eating!
Gone are the days when all you could eat in the parks were junk food.
For example, Disneyland has numberous outdoor vending carts that sell
things like pickles, veggie trays, and whole fruit. If you are feeling
like a snack, consider the healthier alternatives over the $5 five-layer
caramel apple or the super-long chili dog. If you fall to temptation, however, at least share it with another member of your party so you still enjoy the fun and flavor of the junk food but only of a reasonable portion.
If you are staying on property at Walt Disney World, think before you
purchase a refillable mug. You save money and take home a cute souvenir,
but you might end up drinking way more soda than you normally do because
you want to try to get your money's worth out of the mug. Consider bringing
your own refillable water bottle (and carry it wearing one of the parks'
bottle strap holders) so you can stay properly hydrated. Both the California
and Florida parks tend to get pretty hot, anyway.
As you start increasing your mileage in your training, remember that
you need to be eating healthy to help your bio-machine become efficient
and effective. The combination of healthy eating and regular exercise
will make you a healthier person, and you may actually discover that you
are feeling perkier, and getting ill less often.
One final noteHave you registered for the marathon or half-marathon
yet? Are you on the fence? As we start heading into the summer months,
know that the events will likely get filled up and their registration closed. Don't procrastinate! Get
yourself registered, then put on your running shoes and we'll see you
out on the roads!
Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Lani here.