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Ketogenic Diet: Potential Applications & Concerns

Thus far in the blog we have discussed endurance activity using carbohydrate as the primary fuel source. In the last three weeks we outlined the protocol for pre, during and post workout fueling. While our body does prioritize carbohydrate as the primary fuel source for activity and brain function, many endurance athletes agree that carb-centered fueling is both frustrating and time consuming. In recent years, the ketogenic diet has emerged as a popular choice among extreme endurance athletes for a couple key reasons. Today’s post will discuss an introduction to ketogenic dieting, what it means, the potential benefits, as well as potential concerns and obstacles. This post will not discuss the physiology of the process in detail. For those interested in a greater level of detail, I have posted links to some of my favorite resources on ketogenic dieting.

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Post-Workout Meals: Replenish & Recover

After months of training you did it. You crossed the finish line. Your mind takes a huge sigh of relief as your heart rate and breathing begin to slow. Usually at the conclusion of a physical stress, you do not feel hungry. If anything food sounds nauseating. Contrary to how you feel, your muscles are very hungry in these moments. It takes time, sometimes a couple hours, but as your hormones settle down this appetite is revealed. It is time to eat! What does your body need now?

Intra-workout Feeding: Fueling during Activity

During your run, your goal is to maintain your predetermined pace for the entire race, and have enough energy at the end for a final push to the finish. To accomplish this in runs lasting less than 120 minutes, your body needs an effective pre-workout meal, as discussed last week. For those running longer than that, it is likely your body will run out of carbohydrate stores before you reach the end of your race. Prevention of an empty tank is overcome by small intra-workout feedings of carbohydrate. Similar to the pre-workout, these carbohydrates go to the blood stream and are used as energy in priority over your glycogen stores. This keeps your reserves for later in the run when you need them most. Simply stated, it extends the miles you can run at a given intensity.

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Pre-workout Meals: Preparing for Performance

The pre-workout meal is vital for any athlete looking to properly fuel for activity. This is the last chance to thoroughly feed the body before an intense bout of exercise. Just as you fill up your gas tank before a long road trip, your body expects similar attention.
During exercise, the cardiovascular system and respiratory system will be in a state of stress trying to deliver oxygen to muscles. As the demand for oxygen increases, energy needs increase, particularly from carbohydrate. During a long run we can anticipate your body depleting then needing carbohydrate for fuel. Since our body can only save a finite amount of carbohydrate in the muscles and liver as glycogen, it becomes important to maximize those stores going into a workout. Once your liver runs out of glycogen, your blood sugar levels cannot be maintained, and your body crashes. This is most commonly referred to as “Hitting the wall”.

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Eating During Training: Feed Your Body

The goal of proper diet during endurance training is to promote recovery of damaged muscle tissue that results from training, replenishment of energy stores for the next training session, and most importantly, the promotion of new muscle growth. To accomplish all of these things, it is essential the diet be balanced, and attentive to the body’s needs.

For all of the processes above, our body uses energy measured in calories. The intake of carbohydrate, fat and protein are our main sources of calories. Especially now, with so much attention on low carbohydrate diets, it is important to realize the population those diets apply to. To promote optimized performance and recovery of the body in endurance athletes, all three nutrients are beneficial. Carbohydrate, which is found in foods such as grains, breads, pastas, fruits, starchy vegetables, and dairy, are what we consider active fuel.

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Running Long Distance? Don’t Expect to Lose Weight

To get started, here’s what you should know about nutrition:

While many participants see marathon training as a way to lose weight, that should not be the goal. Long-distance runners will naturally lose body fat during training, but a build-up of muscle will replace much of this weight. Ideally we do not look for a change on the scale, but a change in body composition.

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Endurance Training: Fueling for Sport

Traditionally, participation in a marathon or half marathon means you are an elite athlete looking to compete and win. Over the years, more emphasis has been put on recreational activity, which has surged a generous number of people into the sport for reasons aside from first place. As a former competitive runner turned recreational fitness enthusiast, I am a huge fan of the running trend that has swept our nation. I find cardiovascular training to be a great outlet for emotions and mood, as well as a great way to enjoy the outdoors, strengthen your cardiovascular system, and meet people with similar interests.

My concern for those participating in endurance contests are as a Dietitian and promoter of Health and Wellness. Many don’t realize that the distances covered in these events can be very dangerous if you are not properly trained. My goal in this article is to help you prioritize proper nutrition with training. In a physically demanding event such as the marathon and half-marathon, proper nutrition is critical. With training occurring usually 5 days per week, your muscles are in a constant state of rebuilding. While these transformations are positive, we need to make sure you are eating and training to rebuild.

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Marathon Ready Training Column: Welcome Blog

This year more than 30,000 people will line up the weekend of May 2nd, for the Annual Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon. The walkways of our city will be lined with a gallery over 26 miles long, only cups and bottles left strewn about to mark the trail of the herd. This event, which is a very impressive feat of both commitment and community, stems from an individual’s desire to perform. Each participant that lines up for the race has their own goals and strategy for what lies ahead. After weeks of preparation and planning, this one event remains as the single most important leg of the journey. To ensure that you are ready for this journey, we are providing information and education. Over the next 12 weeks, an article will be featured weekly, with the intention of improving fitness, health and performance before, during and after the marathon weekend. You will hear from a variety of experts and fitness enthusiasts about training, race preparation, fueling for your exercise and performance, and even what happens after you cross the finish line.

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Resolve to be Resolute about your Resolution

Overcome these 3 Pitfalls to achieve your Weight Loss Goals

As 2014 ends and 2015 begins, many look for a chance to start fresh. The idea of the New Year’s Resolution is a cultural norm with the greatest intentions. Now more than ever, these resolutions involve changes in lifestyle, most specifically weight loss.  An attempt to be resolute is synonymous with being purposefully driven, determined, and unwavering. With such a bold and confident title, it seems contradicting to realize a majority of people fail at their resolutions within the first 4 weeks of the year. What does it take to be resolute? What is the difference between those who succeed and those who fail? When it comes to weight loss, there are 3 major pitfalls:

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Vitamin D, What can it do for you?

Vitamin D has been a major topic of discussion recently. Over the past 5 years this vitamin has been the focus of many scientific communities. While some of the areas of impact need more research, there is quite a bit of promise from repeated data, which makes the case for increasing daily Vitamin D intake.

A General Background

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is produced in the body when the skin is exposed to UV rays. It is also available in low levels from some foods. Vitamin D in foods has two common forms, D2 and D3. D2, or ergocalciferol, is a fungus or yeast derived product that is created when certain fungi or plants are exposed to UV light. D3, or cholecalciferol, is what our skin, as well as the skin of other animals produce when exposed to UVB light. It can be produced synthetically and added to foods or produced as a supplement. Once in the blood stream, Vitamin D is transported to the kidneys, where it becomes Calcitriol, the biologically active form of vitamin D.