What and when do I eat?
Couple of weeks ago I ask the question how do I maintain lean muscle mass while preparing for a 1/2 marathon. Today my questions is do I run on a empty stomach or do I strength 1st have my protein, run then eat a protein and a complex carbohydrate. FYI I'm a light weight body builder.
It is good as a runner to keep up the body building. Long distance running can promote lots of slow twitch muscle fiber recruitment, perhaps limiting your fast twitch power fibers.
What is a light weight body builder?
Never run on an empty stomach.
Food that you digest well would be my recommendation before a run: Banana, bagel, bread, milk etc try and see what stays in your stomach.
Then the question of how long your training run is? depends on what you eat.
After my favorite is: a glass of chocolate milk - has everything you need for recovery after a run.
Meals always balanced between: carbs, protein and fat
Hope that helps
Good to see you're making progress! I'm going to address this question from a more factual standpoint than from a recommendation standpoint. I can't offer you any recommendations on this, and I suggest that based on your serious interest in this type of training, you should consult a registered dietitian as soon as possible to get a nutrition plan going. Remember, when you train, you're making the blueprints, when you're not training, you should be resting and recovering, allowing your body to finish the construction based off of those blueprint plans.
It is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT that you understand one critical concept, and I can't stress this enough. Strength training and endurance training may not always be compatible if you are serious about competing in either arena. There is a reason that we don't see many bodybuilders competing in half marathons. Serious strength trainers are rarely endurance athletes, and the opposite is also true. This is because the human body has a limited capacity to repair itself. If you put yourself through too much training, you run the risk of getting bogged down in overtraining syndrome. As we talked about previously, you will have to train your upper body to some extent in order to protect your muscles from excessive atrophy. However, if training for this half-marathon is your true goal, then you will need to focus on that as your main training modality. That being said, don't go too far and do like I still do sometimes and think you can conquer the world in a weekend =P. Know your body and respect its needs! Work with a trainer who has plenty of experience training both strength and endurance athletes; you won't be disappointed!
Down to the meat an potatoes of your question... It's never a good idea to exercise on an empty stomach. I'm breaking out my copy of the American Council on Exercise's Essentials of Exercise Science for Fitness Professionals book. I'll share with you what ACE has to say about sports nutrition. (everything in "quotations" is taken straight from the book, pages 177-179)
Fueling for Exercise:
"A small snack before strenuous or prolonged exercise will help to optimize training sessions. The food should be something that is relatively high in carbohydrate to maximize blood glucose availability, relatively low in fat and fiber to minimize gastrointestinal distress and facilitate gastric emptying, moderate in protein, and well tolerated by the individual. Many people prefer a banana or granola bar..."
Carbohydrates and Protein:
The ADA (American Dietetic Association) recommends that individuals consume 30-60 grams of carbohydrates for every hour of training to keep blood glucose levels high enough. The ADA also recommends that post-workout nutrition should consist of mainly protein and carbohydrates. ADA says that you need 1.5 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight within 30 minutes after exercise, and then every two hours after that for four to six hours. The ADA also recommends that athletes consume 6 to 10 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight per day in order to satisfy your body's needs for glycogen replinishment. The amount per day that you need will depend on your total energy expenditure. I suggest finding a way to calculate your METs, that way you can find out how much fuel (Calories) you're actually using.
As far as finding the right carbohydrates, worry more about the Glycemic Index of the food. The Glycemic Index refers to how easily carbohydrates in food are converted into available glucose in the blood. A Golden Delicious apple, for example, has a glycemic index of 39. This is a low GI. A raw banana has a glycemic index of 70. This is a high GI. A high GI is anything that scores 70 or above. Medium is 56-69. Low is anything under 55. I've got a great site for you to refer to so that you can find out the glycemic index of your foods.
(click on the database link to the left and enter a food to find out its GI, be generic.. for an apple, say apple, then choose from the list. You can also find foods with a certain or estimated glycemic index by using the appropriate search tools on the GI database page. Try searching for foods with a glycemic index greater than or equal to 70. There are over 500 results. Be sure to click next above the results to view the next page, you can miss it if you're not paying attention.)
The glycemic index is important to you specifically because you'll be using a ton of glycogen to train. You need to replinish this glycogen as best you can in order to provide your body with enough fuel to be training as hard as you'll be training. It is generally accepted that AFTER TRAINING, high glycemic index foods are good for refueling, however low glycemic index foods are considered better for heart health and weight management. ACE says to strive for a balance of these foods. Does all of that make sense?
As far as finding the correct proteins, you should be aware that not all proteins are created equal! Complete proteins, such as egg whites, soy, whey, casein, milk, contain all of the essential amino acids that your body needs. That's a fact, not a recommendation. Another note on the amount of protein that you need: The ADA separates its recommendations up by endurance athletes and strength training athletes. They do this because they recognize that these two very different training modalities place different demands on the body. They say that endurance athletes should consume between 1.2-1.4g/kg of body weight, and strength training athletes should consume between 1.6-1.7g/kg of body weight. They add that a 2005 study conducted by the Institute of Medicine concluded that the "scientific evidence for increased requirements for active individuals was not compelling, and suggested that .8g/kg per day was appropriate for athletes and the general population."
In regards to eating complex carbohydrates, remember this... Casein is a complete protein derived from milk. It takes about 8 hours for casein to absorb into your system, and whey protein takes about 1/4 of that time to absorb. This is why a dietitian might recommend that someone consume casein prior to sleep in order to provide the body with lasting nutrients so that it can finish the work of repairing itself. If you just had whey, your body might be forced to take proteins from other parts of your body to repair the parts your "injured" during training, or it would just sacrifice the injured parts completely. Think of eating complex carbohydrates in the same way... It takes your body longer to fully convert complex carbohydrates into storable glycogen and usable glucose. Complex carbohydrates are usually preferred by endurance athletes because they offer sort of a "time release" of energy for your body. Simple enough, right? =)
Remember that glycogen is not suitable for long term storage, and will be converted to fat if you don't continue regular exercise.
(Read my blog on carbohydrates)
Also, remember that it takes 4 grams of water to store one gram of glycogen, so I would say that regardless of what you do, stay hydrated, but don't overdo it. As a general rule of thumb, if your urine is clear, you're hydrated, if it's yellow, you're dehydrated. It's not that simple, however, so don't depend on that as your indicator of hydration. Also, Don't ever hold your bladder, if you have to go, GO! You'll also find it easier to exercise if you've emptied your... self (I hope that's clear enough for you =) ).
Let's talk briefly about fats:
Some facts... Fat is important. The ADA recommends that athletes should get 20 to 25% of their total calories per day from fat. ACE says "There is no evidence for performance benefit from a very low-fat diet"
When it comes to maintaining your muscle mass, at the least, and training for a half marathon, the order in which I'd train a client would be to eat a higher carb, moderate to low protein meal pre-workout (before resistance training) as what Danielle mentioned earlier, you store glycogen in your muscles via carbs. This will give you fuel for your resistance training session, but as you perform your resistance training session, your muscle glycogen will begin to deplete. BUT it's better to have the intensity during your resistance training session.
Once your resistance training session is over, I'd recommend you start you running regiment. You definitely need energy during marathons and half marathons in the form of glycogen, but since it's a long distant cardio routine, the intensity isn't insanely high. It's not like you're sprinting the half marathon. As you run at a steady pace for the half marathon, you'll use whatever's left from your bodies stored glycogen, and start tapping into stored fat as your main energy source. This can take you a long way.
Once your running session is over eat a higher card, moderate to low protein meal to begin the recovery process.
As long as your nutrition is on point you shouldn't worry about losing muscle mass.
Jon McQueen, CSCS, CPT, CES, PES
Owner/Trainer - Elite Conditioning