Featured in Trail Runner Magazine
Train Smart, Eat Right
We like to assume that increased training translates to better health and, thus, more energy. However, when we increase training for a long race, we are sometimes left feeling lethargic, instead of more energized.
For many, proper nutrition throughout hard training is an afterthought. Eating well during your training cycle, not just on race day, is key to optimal performance. Your nutrition should be personalized for your type and amount of training and in this article, I give some tips on how to do this!
The Ketogenic Quandary
Despite the high-carbohydrate tradition in running, some endurance athletes are going against the grain and choosing low-carbohydrate, high-fat (LCHF) diets in an attempt to change the way their bodies use energy—using fat stores first and reserving glycogen stores for later. Is Keto right for you? In this article, I present both sides to the Keto argument and the considerations you may want to take before engaging in a ketogenic diet.
What the Gut?
Stomach issues can be more complicated, and there are a number of things that affect that all-important organ while on a run. Discomfort could indicate a stress response caused by running itself, genetics, food intake, fluid and electrolytes, or an underlying issue such as a food sensitivity or allergy. From the moment that we start our run, our insides get jostled around and blood is diverted away from the digestive system to power moving muscles. Our bodies also produce stress and inflammatory hormones. That combination can lead to the symptoms we dread most: cramping, bloating, diarrhea, gas, acid reflux and vomiting. Here’s how to beat those gut issues.
Unpacking Your Protein Bar
Protein bars have their purpose in an athlete’s healthy diet. While whole-food sources tend to be the gold standard for nutrition, protein bars pack a lot of punch for their size and ease. Because they contain carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals in a small treat, they can be used as convenient workout fuel or as a recovery tool. However, knowing what kind of bar is best for your needs and workouts is key. Check out my breakdown of these handy sources of fuel!
Ask the RD: Should I use nuts and raisins for fuel over gels?
No, I would use caution when using real-food options during runs. When we start exercising, blood is diverted away from our digestive systems and to our working muscles. Because they digest slower, limit foods that contain protein, fat and fiber when exercising. While a little protein might be OK and even beneficial, taking in too much fat and fiber can cause serious gastrointestinal issues. So unless you want to add on some bonus bathroom mileage, I suggest using low-fat, low-fiber, low-protein fueling options.
Ask the RD: How can I get Iron on a Vegan Diet?
A lot of athletes ask if they have to eat meat to get enough iron. The quick answer is no, but it can be a challenge to maintain ideal iron levels for an endurance athlete. Iron from plant-based sources (non-heme iron) is absorbed at a much lower rate than meat-based sources (heme iron) (about one third the rate of meat sources) in the small intestine. Here’s what you can do to help to get adequate iron on a plant-based diet.
Ask the RD: Should I Fuel with a Protein Shake Post-Run?
That depends on the protein shake. The ideal shake would be 3:1 carbohydrates to protein, for example, 45 grams of carbs to 15 to 20 grams of protein. If a shake has enough carbs, go for it. If not, you’re not replenishing those all-important glycogen stores that have been emptied during your run!
Ask the RD: Should I eat within 30 minutes after my run?
You’ve probably heard of the post-exercise “window of opportunity”, the 30 minutes after a hard run or workout that has been touted as the best time to eat and refuel. That’s because of the idea that the muscles are most receptive to replacing lost glycogen (or stored carbohydrates) in that half-hour immediately after a hard effort. Glycogen is important due to its use for energy production during workouts. Delaying glycogen replacement can hinder an athlete’s ability to recover from longer or higher-intensity workouts and leave them open to increased injury risk.
Ask the RD: Am I eating enough post run?
There are a number of factors – diet and otherwise – to look at if you’re experiencing persistent fatigue. Persistent fatigue can take many forms, but often it manifests as a deep fatigue with muscle or joint pain, and the inability to recover from training. The human body is a complex system and if you feel like your diet is generally good, and you generally eat enough, but still lack energy, there are a number of things to consider.
Ask the RD: Should Vegans take a B12 Supplement?
Ah yes. The midrace bathroom break. Thoughts may run through your head: Was it the hamburger last night, maybe the coffee this morning or what about the gel you just had? It could be one or all of these things. Everyone has a different tolerance for specific foods, and anxiety itself can even trigger GI distress. Luckily, there are some guidelines that you can try and follow to see if you can come up with a good pre-race meal for yourself.
Ask the RD: Do I still need to hydrate as much when it's cold outside?
Protein is everywhere. It’s in shakes, powders, bars and even advertised in nut butters and cheese puffs. Do we really need all that protein? The average person most likely does not need to worry, but considering the recommended intake for endurance athletes is 1.5-2x average, it may need to be considered. There are a few things to keep in mind when considering protein intake.
Ask the RD: Can eating the right foods help reduce inflammation and speed up recovery time?
While nothing substitutes good, old-fashioned rest, nutrition can be a key player in injury recovery. Recommendations vary depending on your specific injury, but one principle is the same: even though you’ve dialed back your activity, do not skimp on food. Even though you may not be logging as many miles as usual, restricting your food intake can slow the recovery process. Your body needs those building blocks from food no as much as during training. Read more to find out which key nutrients you want to focus on to get back to doing what you love!
Ask the RD: I feel really tired during my training. Could it be my diet?
Chronically under-fueling while training is dangerous and can inhibit your ability to train and impact on your long-term health. Our bodies are actually great at letting us know when we are not properly refueling and tuning in to it can prove to be very beneficial. Read on for some common acute signs and symptoms of under-fueling and what to do about it.
Ask the RD: What's the perfect pre-race breakfast?
As with any diet, even a well-rounded vegan diet, you may have a hard time getting in the proper amounts of vitamins and minerals in your diet. Vitamin B12 can be a challenge to get enough of. If you are 50 years old or older or have digestive issues, B12 may be even harder to get enough of. Check out this answer to why B12 so important, how to recognize deficiencies, and if you should supplement!
Ask the RD: Am I getting enough protein?
Staying hydrated all year round is key for our bodies to run smoothly, and even small amounts of dehydration (2% total body weight loss) can affect our running performance. Check out more as to why hydration is important in all climates and pick up some tips for hydrating in the cold!
Ask the RD: What should I eat when I'm injured?
When we exercise, we create free radicals called ROS or Reactive Oxygen Species that can damage cells and cause inflammation in the body. This type of inflammation is considered acute and is actually a normal response by the body. Allowing it to occur is an important component of training adaptation. Basically, a little bit of inflammation is normal, and a good thing!
Ask the RD: Does Caffeine Help or Hurt When Running?
For most of us, our morning isn’t complete without our cup o’ delicious caffeinated beverage. As far as running performance goes, whether it’s coffee, tea, or caffeinated gum, caffeine is a proven central nervous system stimulant. In modest amounts (200-300 mg) it can provide some of us with a physical and mental lift, but it is important to take into account some considerations with using it to help with sports performance.
Ask the RD: What are electrolytes and how much do I actually need?
It happens to the best of us. You’re having a great run, then bam! Searing muscle cramps bring you to a halt. My electrolytes are depleted, you surmise. Your mind races with thoughts of consuming extra pretzels, bananas and salt tabs, anything to get more electrolytes. But what are electrolytes, what do they do and how important are they, really?
Featured in Outside Online
Everything You Need to Know About Sourdough Bread
Who doesn’t like a hot, crusty piece of sourdough bread? Thanks to a growing interest in all things fermented, sourdough is more popular than ever—and for good reason. The perfect piece of sourdough is chewy and distinctively tangy, more complex in flavor than white bread, and healthier, too. Check out this Outside Magazine piece by author Molly Hurford in which I offer some nutrition tidbits about this delicious type of dough!
If You Want to Try an Elimination Diet, Read This First
Before trying a fad diet, make sure you have all the information—and eat plenty of calories while you’re at it. By now you’ve no doubt watched a friend pare down their diet to a narrow combination of whole foods in an effort to feel better or train harder. Elimination diets—which include the Autoimmune Protocol, FODMAP, and Whole30, among others—have surged in popularity in recent years.
Featured in Faster Skier
Eating for Immune Support During Race Week
The scenario is all too familiar. You’ve managed to stay healthy while logging countless kilometers and the time has finally come to taper for a big race when the next thing you know, you are sniffling and sneezing, hoping your cold doesn’t knock you off your feet and leave you bedridden! Check out my tips for FasterSkier.com on how to best support your immune system before your big event!
Featured in Gnarly Sports Nutrition
Creatine and Endurance Athletes
For many endurance athletes, just hearing the word ‘creatine’ can trigger thoughts of power lifting and large muscles. While it’s true that creatine can promote better power output to strength in power related sports, endurance athletes may too be able to benefit from its use.
Featured in Holos
The War on Carbs Series, Pt 1: Carbs, Culture, and You
Let’s face it. Eating should be simple. You bring food to your mouth, chew, and swallow. Yet, at some point, society began to overcomplicate things, and before we knew it, a full blown war on the correct way to eat erupted throwing guilt bombs into every mouthful.
The War on Carbs Series, Pt 2: Digesting the Carb Controversy
These days Instagram influencers have been condemning carbohydrates like the royal establishment during the English Reformation on a 1500s spree. Carbs ruin our way of life. Carbs are heretics. Well, Okay, maybe not that last one. But where did these pervasive ideas about carbs come from, and is there any scientific merit to the claims?
The War on Carbs Series, Pt 3: Do You Actually Need Carbs?
Imagine you pick up a piece of bread and take a bite. What happens to that delectable morsel after you chew and swallow? And how does it help our bodies and mind function? In the words of beloved Magic School Bus driver and educator extraordinaire, Ms. Frizzle, “Seatbelts everyone!”
The War on Carbs Series, Pt 4: How to Harness the Power of Carbs
Throughout history, carbohydrates have played an integral role in physical and mental health, energy production, and of course, culture. We believe that carbs can and should be included in everyone’s diet without guilt or anxiety – in fact, once we really understand the benefits of carbs, we can wholeheartedly enjoy them. Here’s a guide you can use to help make informed decisions about carbs.
Off The Couch Podcast
Diets & Nutrition with Kylee Van Horn
What’s the best way to eat to feel good and perform well? The fields of nutrition and diet are massive topics, as are all of the related issues surrounding them. So on our latest Off The Couch podcast, we talk with Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Kylee Van Horn, about the various diets out there; whether certain diets are prone to help or hurt training recovery; athletes & eating disorders, and more.
Nail Your Nutrition Podcast
Fueling for Trail Running and Ultra Marathon Distances with Kylee Van Horn
Kylee Van Horn is a Colorado based sports dietitian, endurance runner and skier. In this episode, we cover all facets of nutrition for trail and ultra running.
Consummate Athlete Podcast
Nutrition Questions with Registered Dietitian Kylee Van Horn
Registered Dietician Kylee Van Horn joins us to discuss common questions about nutrition in general and specific questions from listeners. Kylee is an ultra-runner and owner of Fly Nutrition.
She Runs Trails Podcast
Pro Tips to Dial in Your Nutrition while Traveling this Summer! w/ Kylee Van Horn
In this episode, Melody talks with nutrition expert Kylee Van Horn about how to keep your nutrition game on point when you have to travel. She RunsTrails is where the mid-pack and back of the pack runners have been hanging out since 2019. It’s also a great resource for the trail curious.
She Runs Trails Podcast
RD Kylee Van Horn Simplifies Nutrition For Trail Running & Endurance Training!
In this episode, Melody chats with endurance runner, registered dietician and founder of Flynutrition–Kylee Van Horn. Kylee has been featured on several podcasts, and she frequently contributes to Trail Runner Magazine!
Bodies in Motion Podcast
Shifting the Endurance Sport Narrative Around Nutrition, Better Educating Coaches, and Viewing All Foods Equally
In this week’s episode, we interview Kylee Van Horn, nutritionist and nutrition coach for mountain athletes. We chat about how we can shift the narrative around nutrition in endurance communities, better educating coaches on nutrition, and pivoting away from the “good” and “bad” food dichotomy.