Category Archives for Nutrition

Best Supplements for Runners?

For some of these, especially the multi-vitamin, I only take a partial serving. Due to the certifications and high standards that Thorne subscribes to they are not cheap. Taking a partial serving helps them be a bit more economically viable for me. I also figure that a partial serving of one of the best supplements is better than a full serving of some low grade and low standard Walmart supplement!

AM/PM Multivitamin.

Vitamin D

Amino Acids

My Post Hard Run Routine

I do 2-3 hard or long runs each week and have a fairly consistent routine that takes place after each one.

First I hit the fridge and drink some water or milk. I’m a fan of post workout milk since it’s just easier than a protein powder. Fairlife milk is my favorite due to their farming and environmental practices. I’ll often blend some VEGA protein powder into chocolate soy milk, too.

Next, I’ll do a general strength & mobility routine, duration based on time availability and how hard the run was.

Then, I will usually take a shower. Once in a while, I’ll do a hot water immersion after a long run. I do try to keep these hot baths to after easy / shorter runs to limit hydration loss, but sometimes a warm bath after a hard run feels good!

“See what a running coach does as a post hard run routine” – Click to Tweet

Protein Hack to Gain Muscle

There have been some impressive studies coming out lately in regards to consuming protein before bed.

When you think about it, this makes sense. During sleep our body releases human growth hormone, it’s a key time for regeneration from the day’s training load.

Giving the body some protein to work with overnight makes sense.

Below are three studies that have looked at pre-bed protein:

Physical Activity Performed in the Evening Increases the Overnight Muscle Protein Synthetic Response to Presleep Protein Ingestion in Older Men

This was a study on 23 men with an average age of 71, so older than we typically hear about. Participants engaged in evening physical activity then consumed 40g of casein a half hour before bed. This resulted in increased overnight myofibrillar protein synthesis.

Protein Ingestion before Sleep Increases Muscle Mass and Strength Gains during Prolonged Resistance-Type Exercise Training in Healthy Young Men

Here we have younger men in their 20’s on a 12-week progressive strength training program. One group received a pre-bed protein+carb supplement while the other consumed a non-nutritive supplement.

This study may be more interesting than the above since the control group from above did not exercise or take the supplement while this control group did still exercise.

Of course, both groups experienced muscle strength increases and muscle size increases. The men taking the pre-bed protein supplement did experience greater gains in both cases. I would have preferred the control group to have still taken the same supplement, but perhaps gradually throughout the day. This study suggests that the extra protein+carbs assisted with greater adaptations, but did the pre-bed timing of it matter? Probably, but I’m not sure.

Protein ingestion before sleep improves postexercise overnight recovery.

Here again, we have some young men performing resistance training in the PM. Both groups received a casein pr0+carb supplement immediately after exercise, however, only one group received further supplementation immediately before bed. Mixed muscle protein synthesis was 22% higher in the protein group.

Why Casein?!?

Casein works well in these studies because it is a slow release protein. Whey protein results in a rapid increase in plasma amino acids and a quick increase in protein synthesis. The influence of whey is short lived. While both whey and casein protein are in milk, casein is more abundant. Casein results in prolonged and more gradual increases in blood amino acids and the net protein balance remained more positive with casein over a 7 hour period. This characteristic of casein is attributed to its slower gastric (stomach) emptying and slower absorption rate from the intestine to the blood. Obviously, casein is the better choice to consume before a 6-8 hour overnight fast! If you want a protein supplement to consume during the day immediately post-workout, a mixture of whey and casein is optimal.

So, How Do YOU Use This Information?

Cow milk is 82% casein and 18% whey protein. I’m much more inclined to simply recommend milk after a strenuous workout and before bed. It’s more simple to take since you only need to pour a glass, no scooping and mixing necessary. Depending on the quality of protein supplements you purchase the milk may higher grade. I’m usually one to select local milk and egg choices.

Plant-Based Protein Options?

I’m going on a decade as a plant-based athlete. Most of this time has been as a vegetarian with stints as vegan, raw vegan, and pescatarian. Currently, I eat local or free-range eggs  a few times weekly.

I grew up on a dairy farm and choose to not support that type of industry. However, recently I did come across a milk brand that may be a superb choice for those looking for a more ethically sourced milk, and that choice is The extra-interesting thing about their milk is that it’s filtered to remove some of the sugar+liquid, which means it has more protein and less sugar in each cup than typical milk. You can read about their more humane and environmentally conscious farming practices here. I’ll drink their chocolate milk after hard workout or drink a few cups of it before going to bed.

For a fully plant-based option that is a slow release protein (the whole point of taking it before bed) you are best to look at a pea+rice protein supplement, I take Vega Sport, which does not contain rice protein. The pea protein is still slow release so can still do the trick or you can simply find some rice protein to mix into some pea protein.

How to Fuel a Marathon

Optimal marathon fueling strategy

Marathon fueling is tricky.

During training you can get away with minimal fueling during even your longest runs, since it is not best effort or for as long of a distance.

It is easy to make the mistake of thinking you can/should get away with that fueling strategy during your marathon and that if you are going to fuel more during the event you can get away with not practicing.

Let’s take a look at what I suggest for marathon fueling.

There are a number of case studies of sorts that looked at what works for non elite and elite athletes during the marathon.

In 2013 researchers worked with a number of non-elites participating in the Copenhagen Marathon. Half of the runners used a freely chosen fueling strategy and the other half used a specific fueling plan of 60g carbs, 24ml water, a bit of caffeine and salt each hour.

The groups were matched by 10k time trial when sorted so they would have expected to have similar marathon times. However not surprising the freely chosen fuelers had an average time of 3:49 and the fuel scheduled runners had an average time of 3:38. It’s also important to note that gastrointestinal issues were not different for the two groups.

Even the elites follow this same basic strategy. Another fun case study looked at three elite Canadian marathoners and noted what their nutrition strategies were during the events.

They each consumed on average about 60g/240cal of carbohydrates and about 20oz of water hourly.

It’s important to note that all of the athletes in both events were using a carbohydrate mixture of glucose and maltodextrin. Doing this allows you to much more rapidly absorb the calories vs a pure glucose source.

Also while elites and non-elites do typically differ in their weights and race times the fueling strategies are similar. Elites typically can run the marathon at a higher percentage of their VO2 max so use more carbs vs fat during the event.

So, how do you do this during your marathon?

You may think this is a lot to take in, and if you’ve been habitually under fueling then it may feel like it at first.

The half marathon I recently ran had aid stations every 2-3 miles for the marathon, which is fairly frequent. 3-4 is a safe bet for just about every marathon you’ll run.

Elites have their own aid stations where they have their personal bottles at. They typically grab them on the go and down it over the next half mile before ditching the bottle. That’s why you rarely see elites holding bottles.

For us regular folk it is slightly more difficult. If you have an aid station every 3 miles and you’re running a 4 hour marathon that is 2 aid stations hourly. While you don’t want to slow down too much at every aid station, coming to a jog to grab 8-12oz of water and a gel will improve your time and decrease your chances of hitting the wall. Another option would be to carry a throwaway bottle with you for the first hour so you can skip the early aid stations.

I cannot stress enough the importance of practicing this during your long runs. Gels are the most often used in studies because they’re easy to track and use, but many runners also experience GI issues with gels. Taking them slower, such as half right way and then half a few minutes later and always with water can help. If you prefer fluid only calories or using something like gummies, use what works best for you!

Marathon Fueling Plan


Quick Tips on Carb Loading

Carb loading is often an excuse used by runners to eat sloppy and consume junk food the week before the race…but that’s not really how it works.

Don’t get me wrong, I fall into this trap as well! Even coaches are not immune to donuts.

Easy Runner Breakfast

My overnight oats recipe!Overnight oats is a term I’ve heard for a while now, probably first on Pinterest. Yet, I’ve never actually tried it since I was so over eating oatmeal, probably because I’ve had so much of it in my life I was just burnt out.

But recently we house-sat for a couple and they left us some overnight oats in the fridge to have for breakfast.

I can’t believe I’ve been missing out!!!

Benefits of overnight oats:

  • Simple recipe
  • Easy to prepare
  • Minimal cleanup
  • Stores very easily
  • Very customizable

Bonus: More recipes!

  • Warm Banana Breakfast Bowl
    • 2 ripe bananas
    • .5c coconut milk
    • .25c pecans
    • 1.8th cup shredded coconut
    • 1tsp cinnamon
    • basically mix everything into a bowl together.
  • Monkey Salad
    • 1 sliced banana
    • .25c blueberries
    • .25c cashews
    • 1tbsp nut butter
    • sprinkle of cinnamon
    • pinch of coconut flakes
    • basically mix everything into a bowl together.

Monkey Salad

Weight Gain from Running


Recently I was chatting with a runner who was frustrated because her weight gain since starting running.

While this is often unexpected for new runners, there is a reason behind the madness:

  • Muscle
    • While running isn’t necessarily traditional gym work you will gain some muscle mass when you begin running.
  • Carbs
    • When you run longer your body will begin storing more onboard carbohydrates in the form of glycogen.
  • Water
    • There are water molecules attached to the store carbohydrates. This along with your body storing a bit more water in general leads to some weight gain.
  • Food
    • And it’s quite easy to overeat when running. You may not think about it or notice, but eating more calories than you’ve burned during your hour run isn’t hard.

All of this also means you’ll lose weight if you take a period of rest from consistent running!

It is also so important to remember that the scale is not a reliable measure of health. Getting a body composition test done at a local gym can tell you your actual lean mass and body fat amounts, and when you start running you’ll likely see positive changes in these metrics!

A Distance Runner’s Diet


Recently I was asked about getting adequate calories in as a distance runner.

This is a valid concern, however what threw me off was that the individual mentioned they were vegetarian and seemed to think being a vegetarian was making it difficult for getting adequate calories into a diet.

I’ve been a plant-based eater for a decade now and have never quite understood this concern. It’s not as if meat is a huge amount of calories that people take in while running or in general it’s not terribly high in calories.

Below I’ve broken down dietary recommendations for distance athletes and provided examples of my own diet!

For those engaged in run training, we typically consider protein and carbohydrates first. Fat is usually not an issue and comes naturally in adequate amounts when you eat adequate food in fairly unprocessed forms.


With carbohydrates, depending on your training load you may need anywhere from 3 grams / kg daily for someone with a light/moderate training volume to 5 or 6 grams / kilogram daily for athletes with very very amounts of running.

There’s a term for vegetarians who eat a lot of vegetarian junk food. Being a junketarian must be avoided at all costs. One cannot thrive off of Oreos and Ramen Noodles.

Many vegetarians, especially new ones, fall into the trap of cutting out meat and going overboard on wheat without even realizing it. Wheat based food (primarily bread and pasta) is super convenient and cheap, however isn’t the most nutrient dense.

Healthy carbohydrate sources include

  • Fruit smoothies
  • Spaghetti squash (good alternative to wheat pasta)
  • Beans
  • Popcorn
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Oatmeal


In regards to protein, a daily intake of 1.5 – 1.8 grams / kilogram of bodyweight is recommended for optimal run fueling and body regeneration.

There is no vegetarian who has not been asked where they get their protein from.

Unlike vegans who avoid all animal products, vegetarians don’t eat fish or meat but usually can eat everything else.

Great vegetarian protein sources include:

  • Plant Based
    • Nuts
    • Legumes
    • Soy
    • Buckwheat
    • Quinoa
    • Seitan
  • Animal Based
    • Milk
    • Yogurt
    • Cheese
    • Eggs
    • Fish (for the pescetarians)

Pro Tip: Having vitamin C with iron rich food like legumes increases the iron absorption.


Unfiltered, here’s what I had for meals the day of writing this.

  • AM fasted 10 mile easy run
    • Post run soy milk + 1 scoop whey protein
  • Breakfast
    • Two egg + avocado sandwiches, four slices of bread.
  • Second Breakfast
    • Berries mixed with organic full fat yogurt
  • Lunch
    • Leftover organic macaroni & cheese
  • Dinner
    • Homemade pizza

Bonus – How to Lose Weight

Dropping some weight is both simple and incredibly difficult.

Simply, you must eat fewer calories than you burn.

Difficult, because that’s a huge challenge.

Unless you are running a great deal, you’re not actually burning a huge amount of extra calories. 20 miles weekly is only 2,000 extra calories, and that’s not even a pound (that’s 3,600 cals). It’s very easy to unknowingly consume an extra 300-400 calories daily if you’re running 3-4 miles daily.

In my opinion, a runner looking to drop some weight must do some form of food restriction. A 500 calorie deficit at least 5-6 days weekly will yield nearly a pound of weight loss each week.

When I’m consciously looking to drop some weight I’ll restrict what I eat in the AM and noon hours to about 500 calories in the morning and 500 calories over lunch. In the evening I’ll eat nearly ab libitum and not be as strict with the calories but still try to remain at about 2,000 calories daily intake.

Why 2,000? Because most people with a semi-active lifestyle (walking around, no exercise) burn about 2,000 calories daily. Roughly. So if I ate 2,000 calories and didn’t run, I’d not gain or lose weight. But if I eat 2,000 calories and run 36 miles weekly I’m going to be in a 3,600 calorie deficit and lose about a pound a week.

I am typically in a calorie deficit Monday – Friday. I simply find it easier to restrict my food/calories when I’m on a set schedule during the week. Weekends I don’t restrict so much and if I don’t run long I’m probably not in a calorie deficit, which I think is good a few days weekly.

Recording your weight or not is a common issue. How often do you step on the scale? I typically weigh myself daily before breakfast and after pooping. Yes, I know it’s very common to see recommendations to NOT weigh yourself daily, but I like to see the overall trend. I’m not worried if a day I’m 146 and the next I’m 149. I know I obviously didn’t gain 3 pounds of fat!!! If the overall trend is 147 +/- 1 pound then that’s what I”m looking for. If the next month the overall trend is 146 +/- a pound, that’s fantastic.

InsideTracker – First Results

Screenshot 2016-03-14 08.01.22

First, would you please take a moment and vote for and share my video? I’m in the running to win a vacation getaway! Voting accounts for 20% of the overall score!

This little review of InsideTracker is both for you and for me.

For you, it gives a peek into the InsideTracker process.

For me, it helps me work out the results and plan of action.

What it is

Insidetracker is a comprehensive blood test.

Not only that, but they give you the steps to help improve you results, in easy to understand ways. This is where it has differed from tests I’ve done in the past that mail me the results and nothing else.

Why get it done

If you’re simply curious about your health status, a blood test can be a nice way to look inside to see what’s going on internally and with your diet, health, etc. You may feel fine, but who knows how you could feel if you got that Vitamin D deficiency both detected and solved!

In my case, I got it done for primarily my running performance. People spend $100-$600 on GPS watches every day without hesitation But, those don’t actually make you faster. A gps simply tracks what you’re already doing but does not actually improve your running. If it did, USA amateurs and elites would be running faster now then 30 years ago (and we’re slower as a whole).

But, determining that you’re deficient or excessive in something and fixing that…doing this will improve both your health and athletics! Forget the next GPS watch upgrade, get your blood tested.

How it Starts

It’s like ordering anything else online, select the level of testing you wish to have done and order. You either go into a location to be tested or they can come to you. No more than a week later you receive the results via email.

Getting the results

I had the results within 3 days I think, which is crazy. I’ve gotten my blood tested before and it took at least a week every time.

You get this little email titled Your Blood Test Results are In and it’s a little scary. I didn’t open the message for a while, I was nervous. I did not get the test done because I felt ill or in dis-ease, but you never know how you actually are.

Once you have the Results

This was the cool part.

It gives you the results and you select what and how you want to work on.

Let’s say X is low. They lay out different reasons it could be this way and various methods of solving it. You select the course of action that works best for you. This varies from supplements, sleep, stress management, to foods you should try to include in your diet.

What I got tested

The test I subscribed to was the most comprehensive. It looked at:

  • White Blood Cells (inflammation indicator)
  • Testosterone Group (sexual function and athletic performance)
  • Iron Group (oxygen transfer and blood function)
  • Glucose (blood sugar)
  • Cortisol (stress indicator)
  • Low Density Lipoprotein (cholesterol transporter)
  • High Density Lipoprotein (cholesterol scavenger)
  • Liver Enzyme Group (liver function)
  • Calcium (bone health)
  • Magnesium (mood and sleep indicator)
  • Creatine Kinase (muscle health)
  • Vitamin B12 (energy production and muscle repair)
  • Folate (cell production and repair)
  • Vitamin D (bone health and energy)
  • Total Cholesterol (cardiovascular indicator)
  • Triglycerides (fats for energy storage)
  • Potassium (blood pressure regulator)
  • Sodium (maintains fluid balance)
  • hsCRP (inflammation indicator)
  • Testosterone:Cortisol Ratio (overtraining and stress indicator)
  • Free Testosterone:Cortisol ratio (overtraining and stress indicator)

What I’m doing right now

Here is the current state of my training

  • Averaging 9-10 hours running weekly over the course of a month
    • More than I’ve ever consistently done, but feeling well
  • Most days since Christmas I’m in a calorie deficit to lose some weight.
    • Averaging .5-.75 pounds lost weekly
  • I get 7-9 hours of sleep almost every night. Generally to bed between 8-10pm and up around 5-6am no matter if I have an alarm set or not.
  • Vegetarian, but eat lots of eggs.
  • High carb diet, but low added/processed sugar intake
  • Very little strength work
  • Supplement daily with
  • Supplement weekly or every few days with

My Results

So, I know you want to know 😉

Almost everything was within the recommended range with a few being just outside those ranges, which is fantastic.

There are a number of results that may need addressed:

  • White Blood Cell Count: Low
  • Cortisol: High
  • All Testosterone: Optimal
  • Free (circulating & available) Testosterone: Low
  • Sex Hormone Binding Globulin: High

Let’s start with White Blood Cell count. 

This was just outside of the optimal range. Sam Wittenberg, MD and multiple Boston Marathon qualifier says “there are several literature reports of mildly low white blood cell counts in endurance runners. These low WBC were not associated with impaired ability to fight infection.”

From the authors of Lower white blood cell counts in elite athletes training for highly aerobic sports they state “The lower white cell counts in athletes in aerobic sports probably represent an adaptive response, not underlying pathology.”.

So, I’m not terribly concerned with this slightly low WBC count. I’m in a period of higher than normal in the past training that I certainly do not plan on continuing without any periods of rest.

Overtraining & Stress Indicators

So, I’m running a lot.

As of writing this, for the last 13 weeks I’ve averaged 9:15 hours of running weekly, with every 4th week being within the 6-7 hour range and the others being 10-11 hours. I’m feeling great and my running is going very well.

The lab results under the stress and overtraining categories are a bit outside of the optimal ranges.

  • Cortisol
    • Optimal 5-16.3 ug/dl
    • Mine: 16.5 ug/dl
  • Testosterone: Optimal
  • Free Testosterone
    • Optimal: 9.3-26.5 pg/ml
    • Mine: 5.6 pg/ml
    • This being low is very normal in endurance athletes.
  • Sex Hormone Binding Globulin
    • Optimal: 10-32 nmol/L
    • Mine: 120 nmol/L
    • This can go up and down throughout the day based on training and is normal to see elevated in people training a lot.

This also includes free testosterone:cortisol ratio, testosterone:cortisol ratio, cortisol, testosterone (athletic performance).

I’ve been reading scholarly articles to articles from doctors to athletes that have dealt with these results in the past.

My overall thoughts on my results are:

Basically, what my results say is that I’m in a period of high training load and the results are basically normal and expected for this. I’m not experiencing low libido, erectile dysfunction, loss of pubic/facial/ancillary hair. My energy levels feel great. 

While my testosterone is optimal, my free testosterone is a bit low. One author made a comment that really stuck out to me about low testosterone, and it was that “it’s a normal response to high volume endurance training” and then suggested to cut volume by about 40% and do some heavy lifting every 2-3 days. This is important because if the levels are simply due to training load (which I expect is the case) they will all bounce back after a few weeks of lower volume running, more food, and lifting.

Likely I will do this after my final spring race, since I usually take a 2-3 week period of rest after a long training block followed by a big race, anyway. Maybe I’ll get tested after a period of lower training.

Someone commented that during their high volume periods they’d have lower testosterone and during their lower volume periods it would go up 3-4x, however since they were not training as much their fitness and paces would decrease since they were not as aerobically fit.

What I’m going to change

I am going to change a few things

  1. Iron. I’m going to do a better of of taking this away from meals and on an empty stomach.
  2. Lifting. I need to do a better job of regularly lifting heavy.
  3. Cortisol. I’ve began adding a bit of ashwagandha to my almost daily smoothie. This herb was suggested on my results from InsideTracker. I almost blew it off but (my go to for supplement/nutrition info) does indeed state it may help with stress.




Below are a few screenshots from my results, so you can see a bit more of InsideTracker.

All in Iron group are optimal except Ferritin is a bit low

Screenshot 2016-03-14 08.52.58

Free Testosterone : Cortisol Ratio

Screenshot 2016-02-14 06.31.12

Screenshot 2016-02-14 06.36.01

Screenshot 2016-02-14 06.38.16

Testosterone : Cortisol Ratio

Screenshot 2016-02-14 06.42.39



How I Got Over Sugar

How I overcame my processed food addiction.

I gave up coffee for a summer.

Didn’t have any alcohol for a full winter.

I’ve not eaten meat in about a decade, no problem.

However, as someone who used to weigh 80 pounds heavier, my diet has been a struggle for half my life. For the life of me, up until last year, sugar and processed junk food has gotten the best of me.

Yet, I now feel more comfortable with what I eat than I ever have before.

Here’s how I  did it.

Why Avoid Added Sugar?

There are many potential reasons to avoid added sugar.

How Did I Do It?

I’ve not eaten meat in nearly a decade, giving it up was easy. Yet, for some reason I’ve never been able to shake my sugar addiction.

For the longest time, we were not able to have junk food in the house. My wife (who has no probably eating a single Oreo or truffle at a sitting) would have a hidden stash of chocolate that if discovered by me, would be gone by the end of the day.

During past attempts to eat less junk food I’ve tried numerous methods that we won’t get in to. However, in 2015 I stumbled upon a “diet” that has made me happier with what I eat or don’t eat since I lost 80 pounds in high school.

For me, the trick was two fold:

  1. Not giving up 100% of added sugar
  2. Having cheat days

In the past I believe my limitations were much too strict, almost like a punishment.

Currently I have only a few “rules” in regards to my dietary plan, and they are:

  1. No purchasing food with any form of added and processed sugar within the first three ingredients on the ingredient list.
    1. If sugar, high fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup, etc is the fourth ingredient or less, that means there’s very little of it in the food. If it’s in the first three ingredients, there’s probably quite a bit of processed carbohydrate in the item.
    2. Honey is ok. This is a common sugar substitute in bread or granola.
  2. If it’s given to me, such as at a birthday party, I can have some.
    1. This really eases the social pressure of a diet. Instead of suffering through a birthday or dinner party, it’s ok to have a piece of cake.
    2. But sometimes, I don’t take the cake.
  3. One day a month I can eat whatever I wish.
    1. Here was the game changer. Instead of saying no added sugar or junk food ever, I always had this cheat day in the bank. I usually save it for the last week of the month and it’s almost always the same day as a long run or race. And it usually involves ice cream!
  4. Sports nutrition does not count. I still take in refined carbs before and during hard/long workouts.

I did not do this cold turkey, but close to it. We still had food in the house that did contain sugar in the first few ingredients, like ketchup. Once that was gone, we replaced such items with better options. I certainly did not want to throw out food!

Other nutrition advice

There are a few other points that have assisted me in my dietary happiness.

Mindful eating has been almost a revelation. I always try to eat until satisfied not until full and stop eating when I first feel that initial “I’m getting full” feeling. It’s ok to leave some food on the plate. This has been a challenge, but not eating to the point of fullness, being stuffed, or then being uncomfortable (hello Thanksgiving) is a huge load off of the shoulders.

I’ve cut back on my eating in the evenings. Dinner is usually my largest meal of the day, but I try to stop eating and drinking after dinner. The main purpose of this has been to improve my sleep. Laying in a quite bedroom and hearing/feeling your stomach digesting food is a real bother. Not drinking later in the evening can also prevent you from waking in the night to use the washroom, giving you a more restful sleep.

Now we’re able to have ice cream in the freezer and girl scout cookies in the cupboard. I have no probably not eating them, because I know that when my cheat day comes around I can indulge a bit (never too much). I feel relieved about my diet like a weight has lifted from my shoulders.

When avoiding food with processed sugar within the first three ingredients, you must start purchasing higher quality products. This includes better BBQ sauce, nicer mayo, and being picky about the granola you put in the shopping cart. When your ketchup now costs 2-3x more than what you used to buy, you find you both use less of it and enjoy it more. The fact that it costs more along with it being higher quality means it tastes better!