Should I be eating more protein when I am training?
April 3rd, 2012 by Band on the Run
What is the real story on protein – is it a super-hero or a villain? And what about carbohydrates? Should they be avoided at all costs or is carbo-loading the way to go when you are training for a running race?
The truth is that you should be eating both protein and carbohydrates when you are training. One is not better or worse than the other. In fact they work together as a team to give your body what it needs. The key to success is balancing the two – and don’t forget about fat. (But we’ll get to that in a minute.)
Not all proteins and definitely not all carbohydrates are created equal. This is where you should start getting particular. Whenever possible avoid processed foods. Choose whole foods for both meals and snacks. As soon as things are packaged, for your convenience, then they have all sorts of things that you definitely don’t want in them – like sodium, sugar and other long, scientifically-named, ominous sounding additives.
Some great protein choices are eggs, fish, chicken & other lean meat, and tofu. Remember, with protein, a ‘serving’ is the size of a deck of cards. Milk, yogurt and cheese are also good sources of protein.
It’s best to grill or bake your meat and fish and try to steer clear of frying, breading or adding heavy sauces. That definitely doesn’t mean that your protein needs to be bland, boring or flavourless. Marinades can add great taste as can a variety of easy sauces and salsas made from whole, fresh ingredients.
the juice of one lime
a teaspoon of wasabi paste
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of maple syrup
1 teaspoon of sesame oil.
Just whisk it all together. Salmon marinated in this for as little as an hour (or as long as the whole day if you whip it up in the morning) is fantastic. Grill the fish on the skin side down until it is almost cooked through and then finish with the flesh side down. Serve your salmon with some quinoa and lots of steamed veggies and you’ll have an awesome training meal.
Favourite Mango Salsa – for any kind of meat, fish or tofu:
1 diced shallot
a handful of cherry tomatoes cut in half
2 tablespoons of finely chopped cilantro
the juice of 1 lime.
You can mix it up and serve it right away or let it sit in the fridge for an hour or two – the flavor only gets better!
Enjoy whole grains, fruits, and vegetables with every meal. The beauty of including these healthy options in each meal is that the fiber in them will fill you up. You won’t be tempted to supplement with quick snacks that are high in sugar, refined carbohydrates and fat. A serving for vegetables is roughly half a cup for cooked and a whole cup for raw veggies.
So a plate with a balance of proteins and carbohydrates will have lots more vegetables than protein on it.
There are proteins and carbohydrates – but there are also those poor, detested fats. But as everybody knows by now – there are good fats and there are bad fats. And it’s not really rocket science to figure out which are which. Healthy fats are the unsaturated ones found in plants and you shouldn’t avoid them. You should be welcoming things like olive oil, avocado and whole nuts into your training. The key is to remember that the proportion of fat to carbohydrate and protein is low. You might decorate your plate with a few wedges of avocado or have some homemade salad dressing with a tablespoon of olive oil.
Nutrition is as important to training as the physical side of things. Smart food choices may well make the difference in your race – whatever your goals may be!