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There is a lot of confusion related to the human body’s need for carbohydrates, especially during longer, more intense workout sessions.

Why are carbs the ideal fuel for the body?

Well, to put it simply: Our bodies can utilize carbs to help generate energy during rigorous exercise without the aid of oxygen, and we can eat or drink some carbs during exercise to help keep the fuel levels topped off.

Also worth note: Carb depletion is right up there with not drinking enough fluids when trying to figure out why we sometimes bonk.

Before long runs or bike rides, the Alameda Runners love to eat pancakes (normally Ted’s terrific pancakes) with syrup,

For longer workouts, eating carbs days before will help ensure you have a sufficient level of carbs to help fuel you. Each night when we’re sleeping, our bodies use carbs to pump our heart, help keep our bodies breathing, and general physiological requirements that we sometimes take for granted.

Here is what a Runners World story posted a few years back had to say:

What you need are carbohydrates,” says Deborah Shulman, Ph.D., a sports nutritionist in Bellvue, Colorado. Carbs are a good source of glucose, a form of sugar that our brain, nerves, and muscles need to function. A small amount of glucose circulates in our blood, but the majority of it is stored in our muscles and liver as glycogen.

If you’re in it for the long run, consuming carbohydrates and keeping hydrated will give you the energy boost to run stronger during you half marathon or marathon. Many of us drink Cytomax, Gatorade, and similar drinks that have electrolytes, but drinks with carbs can help keep you fueled.

To sum things up: enjoying some carbs during your prolonged workout can help ensure you run or ride stronger with less likelihood of physically cracking. You should also keep in mind that protein and fats are excellent fuel sources, so you shouldn’t go too carb heavy with your workouts. (Alameda Runners plans on calling upon a local sports guru for some assistance related to properly fueling our workouts.)

To help explain further, I have some good reading material for you to quickly read:

Link courtesy of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Link (PDF) to the US Potatoes, discussing carbs, carbo loading, and other helpful information.

Link published by Stockton College, explaining how carbs help fuel athletic performance.

Happy training.


Editors note: If you can only exercise for 1 hour, loading up with carbs will not give you enough energy to exercise for 4 hours.  It takes time and practice to build up endurance.

Tangerine chicken dinner

Thinking about our friends over at Team Type 1, I decided to post a healthy recipe for the night before a long run (I usually eat pasta or pizza).  If you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, cut back on the rice.  Watching your diet and exercising are great ways to maintain your health if you are easing towards diabetes.  A few years ago, my blood test showed that I was pre-diabetic.  I started living a healthy lifestyle and my blood sugar is now so average that it is boring.

1      8-12 ounce can of tangerines
2     shallots, minced
2     tablespoons Dijon mustard one tbsp plain will work in a pinch
1     tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1     tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2     tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2     teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1     teaspoon Tabasco or other hot sauce to taste
4     8-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
freshly ground pepper

Throw the chicken in a Ziploc bag.  Toss the ingredients into a food processor and grind them up.  Pour the mixture into the Ziploc bag and coat the chicken.  Let it stand for 30 minutes and grill for about 15 minutes.   I’d recommend 10 minutes on side one, flip and cook for 5 more minutes on the other side.

Serve with rice (I like white), spinach and corn or any vegetables of your choice.

I always have fresh rosemary as it grows year around in Alameda.  You can substitute or add spices when you have them fresh.

Tip first found at Diet Coke’s Live Wholeheartedly Now booklet (picked up from Anytime Fitness in Alameda, Calif.).

“Eating a variety of foods is key to health because of the wide range of nutrients different foods contain; you can achieve this through color, texture, shape and temperature.”

You hear that? Mix it up a bit and try cooking something new! If you’re out at a restaurant and can actually find something healthy you haven’t eaten in a while, go for it!

Ted and I both planning on sharing some excellent recipes, though you’re free to send any of your own. You can tweet me or Ted, but if you’re not on Twitter,  feel free to e-mail me any neat recipes!

Healthy peasant burrito

Healthy peasant burrito

I was planning on making some stuffed chicken the other day when I realized I  had chicken thighs not chicken breast meat.  I already had half the ingredients made when I noticed the error of my ways and had to come up with a new plan.  I generally eat healthy food and I am definitely in the peasant class of Alameda and I used burrito wraps to put it all together.  Hence the name. Read more… »

As I flipped through the Winter issue of “Competitor” magazine last night, I stumbled across Allison Entrekin’s “Your Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions … And How You Can Achieve Them” article, starting on page 20.  I know it’s mid-February, but that doesn’t mean the eating tip listed isn’t beneficial for athletes and people looking to improve their health.

I believe the most beneficial tip was resolution 4:

“Eat better.  We endurance athletes pack a lot into our mornings – a training session, a quick cup of joe and a long commute to work.  But if we don’t make time to eat a substantial breakfast, we’ll pay for it by dinner, when the only kind of vegetable that will sound appealing is a large bag of potato chips.  ‘If you skip breakfast, by the end of the day, you won’t want carrots — you’ll want carrot cake,’ noted says Nancy Clark, MS, RD, a Boston resident and author of Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guideblook. ‘Have a hearty breakfast and a hearty lunch so you won’t be as hungry at nighttime and can make better choices.” image image


As someone who routinely skips breakfast — even though I certainly have the appetite to eat after I wake up, I just don’t like to force myself to eat that first meal of the day.  It’s something I definitely need to begin working on in the future, especially as I continue to run and go for bike rides in the morning. also stresses the importance of a healthy breakfast to keep you powered up all day.


Ted’s Terrific Pancakes

Saturday morning long runs work best after breakfast.  I have been doing long events on Saturday mornings for about 15 years now with varying results.  One of my favorite breakfast recipes is what I call “Ted’s Terrific pancakes”. Read more… »