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Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend Newsletter
Current Issue: October 2012

Health and Nutrition

October 2012

Eating for Peak Health and Performance: Pay Attention to Your Gut

by Beth Mansfield

Is your gut causing you distress? Gastrointestinal discomfort (heartburn, bloating, gas pains) and upset (diarrhea, constipation, vomiting) can interfere not only with your performance but also your enjoyment of being out for a run. There are a number of risk factors for these types of gastrointestinal problems, including high-intensity interval or pace training, not having the fitness required to support the volume or intensity of your effort (i.e., overtraining), moderate to severe dehydration, and consuming high-risk foods (see below) before or during your training sessions.


High Risk Foods/Habits

What you can do

Gastro-esophageal reflux (also known as heartburn)

Fatty and spicy foods, alcohol, caffeine, chocolate
Large volumes of food
Lying down after a big meal

Avoid consuming these foods before working out (or even the day of a workout)
Eat smaller portions
Keep moving after a big meal rather than lying on the couch/going to bed

Diarrhea or bowel upsets during exercise

Caffeine, fructose-rich foods (fruit juice, dried fruit, fruit in syrup), high-fiber foods, lactose-rich foods (milk, ice cream), fatty foods and/or excessive intake of protein-rich foods

Experiment to see if any of these high risk foods make the diarrhea worse when consumed in the hours BEFORE training
Ensure that the last solid food is eaten at least 3 hours BEFORE training
Try liquid meals for pre-race nutrition
Try a low-fiber diet the day/night before a race

General gastrointestinal upset

Dehydration (not drinking enough before or during exercise)

Make a fluid strategy and stick to it

Bloating, gas pains, general gastrointestinal discomfort

High-fiber foods (cereal bars, breads, fruits), concentrated carbohydrate and caffeinated drinks (soda pop, Red Bull, certain sport drinks)

Experiment with dilute mixes of carb-rich drinks (e.g., 4:1 mixes of water to fruit juice) and gradually increase the concentration up to what your body can tolerate
Experiment with high-fiber foods during tough training sessions to determine what your body can tolerate (or can’t!)

If you experience persistent, severe gastrointestinal problems, ask your physician for a referral to a gastroenterologist to screen for more serious health issues, such as celiac, irritable bowel diseases, gastritis, ulcers, or an ulcerative colitis. 
Beth Mansfield is a sport dietitian and exercise physiologist with Peak Performance in Ottawa.


October 2012

Eat and Run: Chicken Not Pie

You need food to fuel your body – to help you push further, to run faster, to perform at the highest possible level. But food should be more than just fuel. It should also be a pleasure to prepare and eat. Each month, we share a simple, nutritious recipe to help stoke your energy for the race, or help replenish energy spent during long training miles.
Mark Bittman knows a thing or two about cooking (for example, see How to Cook Everything). He also knows a thing or two about distance running. Which makes him a terrific reference for meals geared toward high performance. Enter his recipe for Chicken “Not” Pie. Clever, eh? Skipping the high-fat pastry/crust used in a traditional pot pie, Bittman focuses on the healthier aspects of the dish: the chicken for reparative protein, the veggies for assorted nutrients, and the brown rice (or whole-wheat pasta) for the necessary carbo-load.
And the spotlight on veggies makes it a terrific dish to prepare around the harvest, when fresh fruits and veggies are abundantly available at your local grocery store, farmer’s market, or even roadside stalls. And did we mention it only takes 30 minutes to prepare? Even without the buttery crust of a traditional pot pie, this dish is super delish, and sure to become a staple on your table this fall.
This month’s recipe sourced from
Ingredients (Serves 4)
1/4 cup olive oil, divided in half
2 leeks, washed well, dried, and chopped Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or tarragon
2 boneless chicken breasts
3 large red potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 medium carrots, cut into coins
1/2 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed
1/2 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

  1. Put half the oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add leeks, salt, and pepper. Cook for five minutes.
  2. Add wine, stock, and thyme; boil one minute. Add chicken, reduce heat, cover, simmer till barely cooked (five minutes), then remove.
  3. Add potatoes. Bring to a boil, then simmer five minutes.
  4. Add carrots; cook a few minutes. The liquid should thicken. If not, turn up heat and cook a few minutes while stirring.
  5. Slowly add remaining oil while stirring. Add peas and asparagus. Cook for three minutes.
  6. Chop chicken; return to skillet with any chicken juices and the lemon. Warm through.

Calories Per Serving: 460
Carbs: 52 G
Protein: 21 G
Fat: 15 G

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