Diversifying the Runner’s Diet RECIPE Tomato Sardine Toasts
As a health-savvy runner, you probably already know that swapping out refined grains for whole versions, eating more crunchy salads and spending less time in the drive-thru lane are all important dietary steps you can take for better overall health and running performance, not to mention keeping the numbers on the scale from creeping upwards. But there are plenty of other less celebrated ways that you can make this the year when you eat better than ever. And, mercifully, they don’t require settling for caulif lower pizza crust or the need to drink gallons of bone broth. Implement these no-fuss, science-backed eating strategies and you can expect to enjoy new f lavours, feel more energized and say sayonara to those pesky few extra pounds.
Embrace the New
If your typical diet is as exciting as pasta with red sauce, it’s time to expand your culinary horizons. A recent study in the Journal of Nutrition discovered that people who ate a greater variety of healthy foods tended to be slimmer. Similarly, a Cornell University study found that individuals who were more adventurous eaters (yum, pickled herring!) tended to focus more on healthy eating habits and staying physically active. Eating a greater range of nutritious edibles makes it less likely you’ll become bored with a healthy diet and, in turn, more likely you’ll stick to it. So make your next trip to the grocery store (or farmer’s market) more of an adventure by picking up one or two unfamiliar items to make your diet a taste bud party. Beef heart and amaranth, anyone?
Walk It Off
Even if you’re running your butt off, it’s still a good idea to take regular walks, especially after meals. A 2016 study from New Zealand discovered that the simple task of walking 10 minutes after meals can significantly lower post-nosh blood sugar levels. Another study shows that walking up and down stairs for a mere three minutes after a meal can reduce blood sugar numbers. Any sort of muscular contraction can help draw sugar (glucose) from the blood into working muscle. Beyond slashing the risk for diabetes, improved blood sugar control can make it easier to shed any extra fat stores and also improve energy levels. And if you’re prone to cravings for sugary foods, take heed of an investigation in the journal PloS One which found that a 15-minute brisk walk after a meal can be enough to quell urges for sugary snacks.
Ditch the Fat-Free Dairy
It ’s off ic ial, the experiment with watery skim milk, rubbery low-fat cheese and zero per cent yogurt is a f lop. The most current research shows that eating full-fat dairy is not guaranteed to have waistline repercussions. In fact, an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study reported a greater intake of high-fat dairy products, but not the intake of low-fat dairy foods, was associated with an eight per cent less risk of weight gain over an 11-year period among more than 18,000 subjects. You see, fatfree dairy is missing a key factor in the battle of the bulge: hunger-fighting fat. So by keeping you feeling satisfied for longer, a bowl of two per cent yogurt or cereal doused in whole milk may reduce overall calorie intake.
Front Load Your Calories
It might be time to follow the sage advice: “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” Many people eat their biggest meal of the day at dinner, but research suggests it might be a better idea to swing the calorie balance to earlier on. A study in the journal Obesity discovered that subjects who consumed more of their calories at breakfast ( 700 calorie breakfast, 500 lunch, 200 dinner) experienced greater fat loss around their waistlines than those who skewed their calorie intake towards dinner (200 calorie breakfast, 500 calorie lunch, 700 calorie dinner). It could be that we burn off
more of the calories consumed earlier in the day when our metabolism is higher. Insulin sensitivity may also fall as the day progress, so there is a greater chance carbohydrates consumed later in the day will get stocked away in fat stores.
Spill the Beans
The United Nations hailed 2016 as the International Year of Pulses. So make 2017 the year you finally eat more nutritionally overachieving pulses like beans. Data shows that individuals who infuse their diets with more beans have an easier time achieving and maintaining healthier body weights. That’s because beans are an excellent source of plant-based protein and dietary fibre, both of which can fill people up on fewer calories. What’s more, a 2016 study in JAMA Internal Medicine determined that a higher intake of plant-based protein is associated with a lower mortality rate from disease compared to eating more protein gleaned from animals.
Take Counter Measures
The type of foods you have out in the open in your kitchen can play a huge big role in how healthy you eat and any weight loss efforts. A Cornell University study showed that people who left snack-style foods like boxed cereal and soda out on their countertops were up to 26 lb. heavier than those who stashed these items out of sight, or didn’t have them in the house at all. On the f lipside, subjects who kept a bowl of fruit visible in the kitchen weighed on average 13 lb. less than those who didn’t. It comes down to eating what is easiest to get at when the hunger monster strikes, and if that happens to be nutritious grub like fruit or cut-up vegetables placed in a bowl on the countertop or a visible place in the fridge you’ll net more nutrients and keep your intake of higher calorie processed foods to a minimum.
Stop Cheating in Moderation
A much vocalized piece of dieting advice is to eat “everything in moderation.” But research now shows that many of us have a skewed sense of what “moderation” actually means. It turns out that what most people define as a “moderate” serving is larger than what they believe they “should” eat. So in other words, if you eat chocolate chip cookies in moderation you may end up eating more than what’s actually a reasonable serving size. It all comes down to people embracing the advice to eat cheat foods in moderation as a license to stuff more in. Because moderation is such a vague concept, you’ll be better served following more concrete eating guidelines such as relegating only 10 per cent of your daily calories to guilty pleasures.
Reel-in Stinky Fish
It’s time to toss farmed salmon and chemical-laced Asian shrimp overboard and cast your line for more nutritious and ocean-friendly swimmers – even if they’re a bit odorous. Anchovies, sardines, mackerel, and herring – otherwise known as “stinky” fish – are some of the most nutrient-packed and sustainable options available from the fishmonger. For starters, you’ll net plenty of heart-healthy omega-3 fats as well as hard-to-get vitamin D to help build bones of steel. They’re also loaded with muscle-building protein and for the most part are harvested using less destructive methods that maintain healthy wild populations. Plus, dropping smoked mackerel or a tin of sardines into your grocery cart instead of more expensive protein options like salmon, chicken breast or steak can help keep your food budget under control. Matthew Kadey is a James Beard Award-winning food writer and regular contributor to Canadian Running.