Q&A with Dr. Beth Mansfield

Do you ever wonder if your nutrition plan is setting you up for peak performance? Do you need more or less carbs? Or different carbs? Sometimes it’s hard to know with all the information out there. Lucky for us, we can ask Dr. Beth Mansfield, a Sport Nutrition Specialist, Registered Dietitian and Certified Exercise Physiologist at Peak Performance in Ottawa. Have a question for Beth? Email media@runottawa.ca . Every month we’ll pick one or two questions for Beth to answer.

This month’s question:

For the past month I’ve been trying out the Paleo diet. I’ve been eating lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, meat and fish and I feel great so far. But as I start increasing my mileage while training for the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon, I’m wondering if should I stick with the diet? Last year I ate tons of pasta and bagels during the marathon build up and now I’ve cut those out completely.

Beth answers:

The Paleo diet may give you enough fuel to maintain your marathon training but note that it is a high volume diet; that is, you have to eat a lot of vegetables and fruits to get a sufficient amount of carbohydrate INTO your muscles to run fast and far. These types of plant foods have a tendency to fill you up and quash your hunger BEFORE you actually have sufficiently refueled. It might take you a few days of training to realize that you haven’t been refueling adequately – and you will know because your endurance performance will be negatively affected and even easy workouts will feel hard.

So I would recommend making some slight adjustments to your Paleo diet by including some non-Paleo foods before, during and after your training. Start by including dried fruit and/or high glycemic index fruits in your pre-workout snack and then add potatoes (roasted, mashed, baked or boiled) to your post workout meals. If you are going to be using sport drinks and gels during your race then you should get used to them in your longer distance training sessions. These slight adjustments to your dietary intake on your training days should help to optimize your energy level during your training sessions.

About Beth Mansfield and Peak Performance

Dr. Elizabeth (Beth) Mansfield, PhD, RD is a Registered Dietitian, Sport Nutrition Specialist, and Certified Exercise Physiologist with Peak Performance in Ottawa. Beth educates Canadian athletes on sport nutrition for health and performance.

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