Q&A with Nancy Clark
Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD (Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics) counsels both casual and competitive athletes in her private practice and offers her knowledge to help Mizuno runners.
Q: I know breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but I'm trying to lose weight. If I reduce what I eat at breakfast and/or skip it entirely (and thereby reduce my caloric intake for the day), will that help me lost weight? Or is that just wishful thinking? Janet, Islip, New York
A: Skipping breakfast to lose weight, is wishful thinking. In theory it’s a good idea, but it backfires. When you skip breakfast, you tend to get too hungry. Getting too hungry leads to over-eating later in the day. The over-eating is not because you don’t have willpower, but because hunger is a physiological demand.
Think of it this way: If you were to hold your head underwater for too long, could you breathe normally when you popped up? Of course not. Similarly, if you withhold breakfast, can you eat a “diet portion” later on? No! You’ll be grabbing for food.
The body sees food restriction as a “famine” and wants to overcompensate. So, don’t skip meals! Your best bet is to eat a hefty, dinner-sized breakfast and smaller, breakfast-sized dinners.
Q: I just ran the Boston Marathon and ever since it, I've been miserable. I'm sore, cranky and just not feeling well. I don't have the best nutritional habits in the world, but what can I do to eat better to recover better after my next marathon? Seth, Portland, Maine
A: You sound like a lot of runners I know. To enhance recovery after your next marathon, first try to fuel and hydrate better during the marathon, so you will be in better condition at the end and have fewer problems from which to recover. But if that is not the case, keep these points in mind:
Being dehydrated can make you feel tired and cranky and ”unwell.” Drink enough fluid until your urine is a clear color and you need to urinate every two to four hours. Salty fluids, such as chicken noodle soup, beef broth or V8 Juice might taste extra good. The salt helps hold water in the body.
Get some calories into your body as soon as you can tolerate them. Carbs will help refuel your depleted muscles, as well as provide fuel for the brain. Some marathoners can immediately munch on pretzels, bananas and anything they can get their hands on. Others have to force themselves to sip on ginger ale or cola and nibble on saltines.
Enjoy protein-carb combinations. Protein repairs muscles and carbs refuel muscles. Lots of runners report hankering for a burger (on a roll) or steak (with potato). Their body seems to know what it needs: abundant calories, protein to repair, carbs to refuel and a nice meal as a reward for having survived the 26.2 miles.
Q: I'm an addict. I'm hopelessly addicted to Mountain Dew Diet. All my friends tell me drinking that stuff (I drink as much as 10 a day) is hurting me. Is it? It's mostly water, right? I don't drink any alcohol and it can't be as bad as that. Do you have any suggestions how I can kick this habit? Kevin Durkin, Austin, Texas
A: I don’t think anyone really knows if that much diet soda is hurting you. Diet soda has yet to pass the test of time. I do know it certainly isn’t helping you. Moderation is always a smart choice. And choosing more natural fluids (such as water or juice) is also wiser.
An important question for you to answer is: Why do you drink so much? Among my clients, those who report a similar “addiction” tend to eat too little food during the day and they rely on the caffeine in diet soda to keep them going. My hunch is, diet soda is the symptom, and the real problem is you are not eating enough breakfast and lunch.
I suggest you try a weeklong experiment: Enjoy a substantial breakfast and lunch and afternoon snack. Observe what happens with your soda “addiction.” My bet is you’ll be able to easily drink less. Problem solved!
Q: I'm a triathlete and because I train so much, I work up a huge appetite by the time I sit down for dinner. Then, just an hour or so after dinner, I'm still hungry. I know I should fuel up for the next day so I want to snack nutritiously and not just load up on ice cream and cookies. Can you give me some advice on healthy, post-dinner snacking? Lorena, Tempe, Arizona
A: I suggest you change the words “after dinner snacks” to “second dinner” and eat real food. Suggestions include:
--a second dinner, made with “planned-overs”
--peanut butter/banana/honey sandwich plus a glass of lowfat milk
Being so hungry at night after dinner says to me you skimped at breakfast and lunch (for whatever reasons, such as no time, dieting, unable to tolerate pre-exercise food). It’s much better for you to eat the balance of the calories from those meals in the form of quality calories at night, not cookies and ice cream.
Q: Do any of these new recovery drinks really help? Or are they just a different taste and formula from the sports drinks companies? I'm sure they're better than water, but are they worth the cost? Skip Franklin, Hartford, Connecticut
A: After a hard workout that depletes your muscles, your body wants:
--carbs to refuel depleted glycogen stores
--a little protein to help repair and build muscles
--water to replace sweat loss
--sodium (an electrolyte) to replace what you lost in sweat.
You can get all of those nutrients (at a lower price) from real foods, such as chocolate milk (or vanilla, strawberry, or any flavor of milk), yogurt and fruit, cereal and milk, a sandwich, a dinner. Your best bet is to back your training into a meal and you’ll automatically get the nutrients you need to recover.
The commercial recovery drinks are more about convenience than necessity. They differ from sports drinks (that are designed to be taken during exercise) in that they contain some protein and more calories. Are they worth the cost? That answer depends on if you are willing to pay for convenience.
If you have a nutrition-related question for Nancy Clark, send your questions to shoeguy@Mizunousa.com. We’ll pick five questions a month for Nancy to answer. If we pick your question, you’ll receive a Mizuno technical T-shirt.