Nutrition is one of the most important and often ignored parts of any fitness or running regime. You don’t need to be a nutritionist to take an active roll in learning about how foods affect your body and your health. Due to some “issues” I’ve had, I decided a couple of years ago that I wanted to give Whole30 a try to see if I felt better. I had great results but went back to my old ways fairly quickly because the draw of sugar, wheat, and other grains felt too large at the time.
In December of last year after going off the rails, shall we say, I knew I needed a diet clean up and decided to tackle Whole30 again.
I successfully finished Whole30 in January and feel better than I have in a very long time.
I mostly eat Paleo but I won’t define myself as that. I don’t like to put a label on who I am because I know that is constantly changing.
Most days I am completely grain free. I try to eat as many vegetables as possible and stay away from processed foods. I eat more meat that I ever have. I feel that it has helped me not only recover from workouts faster but I feel stronger overall. I eat fruit in moderation and try to eat foods as close to their natural form as possible.
This has helped me to feel better inside and out. My stomach no longer “hurts” all day long and I have more energy. The bloating I commonly experienced is gone.
Prior to transitioning to a mostly grain free diet, I would commonly say that the best I felt all day was when I first woke up before I ate. After that it all just went downhill. Now I feel just as good when I go to bed each night as I do when I wake up in the morning. I also sleep better, rarely waking up at all during the night.
Note: If you don’t know what Whole30 is and want to check it out I recommend you read the book – It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. If you have already decided for yourself that elimination diets are not for you, I still recommend you read this book.
Whole30 eliminates all grains from your diet. This part can be frightening to runners who wonder how they will fuel for not only their to-day to-day activities, but also for their weekly long run. There are a lot of misconceptions as to what Whole30 is about and likewise what being Paleo is. Yes you are getting rid of grains, but you aren’t getting rid of carbohydrates. You are just getting them from a different source than you may have been getting them from before.
Don’t fret! You can do Whole30 and keep up your mileage. It just takes a little patience and knowledge, and you will be on your way to feeling great. There are plenty of long distance and ultra runners who have successfully adopted a paleo lifestyle and still have success in running.
I’m not here to argue whether eating paleo is the best nutritional option out there. I’m simply telling you how I fueled my runs with success during Whole30.
If this is your first time doing Whole30, I recommend that you do not choose a month where you will have long runs in the 18 – 20 mile range. There is a lot going on in your body, and you are going to feel lethargic some days as your body begins to switch from its old energy sources to a mostly fat burning system. The Whole30 I completed in January was not my first, and I can tell you it was easier than others I have done. The first time I completed Whole30, white potatoes were not allowed. They are now and this was a welcome change that helped me get plenty of carbohydrates in the days leading up to long runs.
In the days before longer runs, I made sure I ate enough carbohydrates. This included beets, potatoes, and squash. Beets are a fantastic addition to any salad, as well as sliced potatoes. I also really enjoyed red and purple potatoes with a bit of olive oil and salt.
Before and during long runs I would fuel with:
- gogi berries, both soaked and not soaked
- apple sauce
- chia seeds soaked in coconut milk
Other have had success with:
- homemade sweet potato puree
- fruit puree
Whole30 has taught me a lot about myself and even more about my running. It takes a lot of experimenting to see what works with your body and will keep you happy on your long runs. I would argue that you have to experiment in the same way when you are using gels, blocks, etc to fuel your runs. I have found that keeping a journal during the whole process helps you identify quicker what works and what does not work!
Are you a runner who has completed Whole30? How did you fuel your runs? Tweet me @mileposts
Looking for ideas for some of your Whole30 meals follow me on instagram @mileposts.