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Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend Newsletter
Current Issue: April 2013

Health and Nutrition

April 2013

Q&A with Beth Mansfield – Part 2

Two months ago, we asked readers for their nutrition questions. We received too many to answer in one issue, so this month we’re back with two more responses from Beth Mansfield, a Registered Dietitian, Sport Nutrition & Exercise Specialist with Peak Performance. Beth educates Canadian athletes of all levels, from recreational athletes to Canadian Olympians.

Interested in learning more about getting to the line fueled for your best performance? Check out one of Beth’s PowerFuel Sport Nutrition Workshops, which she offers on a regular basis. Click here for a link to Beth’s workshops.

Now onto the Q&A.

Q: I am a type 1 diabetic and 2013 will be my third half marathon. I've managed to run the first two with keeping my blood sugar under control but I am crediting that simply to chance. I was wondering if you might have any suggestions on what types of food I should be eating the few days pre-race so I can be well nourished for the race?

A: For endurance training of a moderate to vigorous nature, carbohydrates are your body’s major source of energy – whether you are diabetic or not. Yes, we also use fats for fuel but it is the rather limited storage of carbohydrate that becomes the issue when we start to push our bodies to go farther and faster. Your muscles and liver store carbohydrate – only a limited amount – and this needs to be continually replaced or you are not going to be able to continue to exert yourself. To maintain your supply of muscle energy for as long as possible for endurance sports such as skiing, running and cycling, follow an eating plan that includes plenty of carbohydrate rich foods. Use a sports drink during training sessions to keep blood sugar levels topped up and eat a carbohydrate rich snack after each training session when your muscles are most receptive to refueling their depleted carbohydrate stores. You will have to make sure that your insulin is adjusted appropriately.

I cover these fueling basics in a blog post on the Power of Carbohydrates. Check out that post for two handy tables that will help you calculate your daily carbohydrate needs and then figure out what foods will help you powerfuel your plate.

Q: Hi Beth, I am a female long distance runner and triathlete and sometimes suffer from lower iron levels. I am not interested in iron supplements. What kinds of foods do you recommend from a nutrition perspective to help keep my iron levels up, particularly in peak training periods? Thank you.

A: A common nutritional issue (particularly for women) is low iron stores leading to iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia. This may make you feel weak, too tired to train, and irritable. The good news is that iron deficiency is totally preventable. The bottom line is to eat iron rich foods to maintain and/or attain optimal iron stores in your body.

Dietary Iron – Absorption is Key

To maximize your absorption of iron choose foods with higher iron content more often (the clue here is to choose the more colorful foods, such as dark green veggies, ruby red meats, brown whole grains). Eat iron containing plant foods with meat, poultry or fish and/or with Vitamin C rich foods to enhance iron’s absorption. Examples include tomato meat/bean sauce for spaghetti, a bowl of iron-enriched cereal with strawberries or beef sirloin strips and spinach with orange slices. If you are taking an iron supplement do not take it at the same time as a calcium supplement as the iron will not be readily absorbed.

Beth Mansfield is a Registered Dietitian, Sport Nutrition & Exercise Specialist with Peak Performance

April 2013

Eat and Run: Chia Seed Energy Balls

We talk a lot about pre- and post-race meals, but what should you eat during your run? Long runs require a fuelling strategy. Fortunately, there are plenty of options out there to help you replenish power so that you can keep on keeping on when the going gets tough – from energy balls to bars and gels. Heck, as Beth Mansfield pointed out last month, even small boiled potatoes will do the trick. Which goes to show that you can create effective fueling options from a variety of ingredients that you may already have lying around – and others (e.g., chia seeds) that you may want to start stocking.

Got a can of pumpkin puree you’ve been wondering what to do with? Whip up some pumpkin no bake energy bites. Honey and molasses in the pantry? You’re on your way to a simple (if messy) recipe for homemade power goop.

Or why not go all out and try this month’s feature recipe for chia seed energy balls? As author Kate Percy writes, chia is often called “running food” and has been credited with helping the runners of Tarahumara tribe of Mexico run 100s of miles at a time. Hello Sunday morning long run! Packing protein, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals these delicious morsels will keep your legs pumping.

This month’s recipe sourced from

Ingredients (Makes 20 balls)

  • 50g soft, pitted dates, chopped
  • 60g soft dried apricots, chopped
  • 80g sultanas
  • 20g hemp seeds
  • 40g pumpkin seeds
  • 20g sunflower seeds
  • 1 tbsp ground chia seeds
  • 1 dessert spoon runny honey
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds


  1. Place all the ingredients except the honey and the sesame seeds into a food processor and whizz until everything is finely chopped and sticking together.
  2. Add the honey and combine.
  3. Roll into small balls, about 1 ½ cm in diameter,
  4. Pour the sesame seeds into a small bowl and then roll each ball in the sesame seeds to cover completely.
  5. These keep for several weeks, stored in a plastic bag or airtight container.

Cals: 44
Carbs: 6.2 G
Fiber: 8 G
Protein: 1.2 G
Fat: 2.1 G

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