Soweto Marathon nutritional tips with FutureLife
10 July 2016
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Brad Brown: Welcome back to yet another edition of Old Mutual Live and we are just about a month away from the Old Mutual Soweto Marathon, it’s approaching pretty quickly. Things really starting to hot up. I was chatting to Race Director, Danny Bloomberg just the other day and everything is on track for what I think is going to be the best Old Mutual Soweto Marathon ever.
A new start and finish venue, I think it’s going to be awesome. Hopefully your training is going well. I thought we’d get someone on who could talk a little bit about the nutrition side of things. But we can chat a few other things as well. It’s a great pleasure to welcome the Head Dietician for FutureLife onto the podcast today, Lara de Santana. Lara welcome, thanks for joining us today.
Lara de Santana: Thanks Brad, thanks for having me.
Soweto Marathon’s official nutritional partner
BB: Lara, before we get into nutrition around the Old Mutual Soweto Marathon, there’s quite a unique partnership between FutureLife and the Old Mutual Soweto Marathon as well. I don’t want to say you’re the nutrition partner, I don’t know what the official title is. But I’m a huge fan of FutureLife and I know a lot of runners are. Tell us how the relationship came about between the two organisations?
LDS: We are the official nutritional partner of the 2016 Old Mutual Soweto Marathon. We’re a proud sponsor of this people’s race. As the race mission designates strongly with our core values being those of community upliftment and transforming people’s lives through a healthy balanced life. It was kind of a natural fit. That’s really where we’re fitting in with them. I think in terms of how we progress from here, like you said, a lot of athletes are currently using the products, so I think it is a good fit.
BB: Absolutely. I’ve tried lots of things in my running and athletic career and I’m not by any stretch of the imagination an elite athlete. But FutureLife has been one of the things, and you’re not paying me to say this, FutureLife has been one of the things that has really made my life easy. I find it doesn’t repeat on me, it digests easily. It’s exactly what I need before a long race or a long training ride or run.
LDS: Brilliant, we like to hear that.
BB: Let’s talk about some nutrition a month out and this is probably key for someone who is possibly running their first marathon or half marathon. It’s now that you should really be testing and figuring things out. You don’t want to be worrying about what you’re going to be doing on race day a week before the race. This is the perfect time to be testing. Can you give us some advice on what people should be doing and maybe what they should be avoiding at this stage in their training?
Practice your race day nutritional plan
LDS: Definitely. I think one month in advance we should really be fine-tuning our nutrition plan for race day. We know that what you eat before, during and after an event can obviously affect your performance. As well as your training in that regard and how you actually feel.
While we know that there are guidelines to follow around nutrition for any endurance event, each person is different. Some people are a lot more sensitive to fibre and caffeine for example. Whereas others can really tolerate it quite nicely. The trick is to find out exactly what you intend to do on race day. During your longer training runs. That’s really where you’re going to try products out and try your nutrition plan now.
Basically now, four weeks in advance, if you haven’t got it fine-tuned, this is the time that you need to. In terms of what we want to be doing in the week leading up to race day and in these four weeks. You don’t really want to change too much the week before. Now that we’re four weeks in, this is where you’re going to play around.
A week before you really want to show that that plan is in place. We don’t want to deviate too much from that. A week before we want to start tapering down in terms of training. We want to ensure that you’re getting the right amount of sleep for you. We know that some people are fine on five hours, some are fine on eight. You need to find what’s right for you.
Correct carbo loading is not a myth
In this week we want to do a little bit of carbo loading. I know that there is a little bit of controversy around carbs and exercise and carbo loading per se has changed over the years. But there is a lot of sound evidence in the performance benefit that really comes with optimising that carbohydrate availability that week before. We need to make sure, even if it’s a day before or a few days before, we need to make sure that we have enough carbs.
In terms of foods that we want to avoid the four weeks in advance as well as closer to the time, would obviously be foods that may put you at risk for food borne illnesses. We want to avoid foods that we’re not sure we know the origin of. We don’t want to eat food that’s necessarily past its sell-by date. Avoid raw or uncooked animal protein. So probably not the best time to be exploring sushi. New foods, so if you don’t usually eat a food, now is probably not the best time to play around with it, or at least the week before as well.
Alcohol, I’m not saying you can’t have it now, but a week before, definitely we need to start cutting back. In the interest of optimal hydration and wellbeing, you obviously want to avoid it where possible. Then junk food, this isn’t the time we want to pick up weight. It’s kind of considered as an empty nutrient. So we want to make sure we’re getting in our vitamins and minerals now. We’re getting in our carbs around our exercise and training schedules.
BB: Lara, if I could just jump in there too, you were talking about the carbo loading side of things, particularly during the taper, that final week. Am I correct in saying that a lot of athletes also take it a bit to the extreme. You’ve got to be careful, because you’re cutting back on training, your body’s requirements are possibly not as high as it would be during a peak training week.
It’s not necessarily really just smashing as many carbs as you want, but almost keeping it the same, if you know what I’m saying. Because you’re not really burning as many as you would generally. One of the big mistakes I see a lot of people doing is the week before, they’re literally smashing as much pasta. That sort of thing as they can. The last thing you want to do is put on a kg or two before the race because you’re not training as much. Would you advise that, and that’s probably sound advice as well?
LDS: Definitely, and that’s kind of where carbo loading originated from. Is people were doing exactly that, a week before. They were loading up on carbs and by the time they go to their race they were a kilogram or two heavier. Which isn’t great for performance, especially when you’ve been training a little bit lighter. Essentially what carbo loading comes down to and that actually, most of the benefits are seen a day before.
Optimising your glycogen stores
But also we don’t want to be heavy from the meal the night before. Essentially what we want to do here is we want to optimise our glycogen stores. Our glycogen stores are in our muscles and they’re in our liver. So essentially we want to make sure that the glycogen stores are at full capacity.
What we want to be doing the day before and maybe even push it to a day and a half before, is just those high GI carbs. Even if you’re sipping on an Energade or eating some healthy high GI bars. Then at least you’re getting in those carbs without necessarily the weight. I would stick to about a day or a day and a half before and nothing too heavy.
Just make sure that when you are eating, you’re including carbs in your diet. Make sure that that meal the night before is obviously carb dense, but not too heavy. Not out of what you would normally eat around race days and this is also where your four-week training preparation comes in now.
Before these big runs we should actually be trying a meal the night before. Do you tolerate it well, was it too heavy, was it too little, should we be increasing it? That sort of thing. Play around. But a day and a half, a day towards the race, I would probably just start increasing carbs a little bit more, but not necessarily fibre.
BB: Let’s touch on what FutureLife has to offer. I think you talk about experimenting and testing and figuring out what works for you. Your range has grown quite a bit as well and you’ve got quite a few different products on the market. I know there’s some with higher protein, can you run us through a brief overview of what is available and who is best suited to what?
How you can incorporate FutureLife into your diet
LDS: Perfect. Our range really covers the needs for almost everyone. Anyone can really find a product within our range that would fit their requirements. Essentially when it comes to before exercise, we’re looking at low GI carb dense meals. Essentially you’re looking for a meal, you’re not necessarily looking for a supplement. You’re looking for something that can fit into your daily life.
Within our range we definitely have that. Our FutureLife high energy smart food, that would be the product that you would have prior to exercise. We’re looking at about two to three hours before exercise, it’s going to give you that sustained energy. You only need to start fuelling up then, obviously during the run.
What we also have which is quite nice is our FutureLife high protein smart food. Protein is always best used and utilised after exercise, but we need carbs and protein. I know a lot of people quite like a protein shake after exercise, I prefer a protein meal. Which means we have some carbs and some fats and some vitamins and minerals in there as well. Because post-exercise recovery carbs and protein blend are ideal. That FutureLife high protein smart food would fit in quite nicely there.
We’ve also got our FutureLife smart drink, it’s a drink that we actually came up with Clover. It is a dairy based drink. So you can have it prior to exercise if you know that you can tolerate dairy quite well. Otherwise dairy post-exercise recovery is always a huge hit because it does contain those electrolytes and that blend of carbs and protein. The smart drink post-exercise, great.
Then obviously during exercise we have our high energy bars. That’s the high GI bar with electrolytes which is going to keep you fuelled throughout. Then in terms of our whole range, you can fit around it. Anything in terms of carbs you can fit in before or after. But high protein is definitely after.
We do have our smart oats, that could fit in quite nicely before as well as our FutureLife Crunch, that would fit in quite nicely before as well. It’s really about which products you want to choose from the range. Our high protein products would be better post-exercise and the rest of the products would be quite nice as a pre-exercise meal.
BB: I’m going to throw something in that I tried and I know a couple of guys that I train with as well do and particularly on the long ones. I did it at Ironman this year for the first time. In my special needs bag I actually had like one of those bicycle sports bottles. I just put the normal FutureLife, the stuff you would normally have for breakfast into that, a couple of sachets of water.
So it was almost like a FutureLife shake. Had that on the run in the special needs bag. Where I couldn’t possibly take on, or I didn’t feel like I wanted to take on anything really solid, that really helped. It made a massive difference, so definitely will be doing that in the future as well. I’ll probably try it at Comrades too, I loved it and will be doing it again in the future, no doubt.
LDS: Brilliant, I think that’s the nice thing about the range as well, is its versatility. If you would prefer eating it or you’d prefer having it on the go in a shake or smoothie format. It’s really up to you and it actually digests quite nicely when it’s in a smoothie format, so great to hear.
BB: And the last thing you want to do is try that on race day, I had tried it in longer sessions beforehand and it worked. So definitely tried it on race day and it worked too, so will continue doing that. Lara, thank you so much for your time here on Old Mutual Live once again. Looking forward to getting you on, I think we’ll get you on in race week to find out a little bit about what we should be doing and dig more into the night before. The morning of and then during the race and post-race as well. But we’ll save that for next time, thanks for your time today.
LDS: Cool, thanks a lot Brad, bye.