If you’ve been following me for these past 9 months, you’ve noticed that I’ve talked about my growing love/passion/obsession with running. I’ve been training for a marathon for 6 weeks now and we’re almost to the halfway mark! To say I’m excited and nervous would be an understatement.
Being in school now and studying various aspects of nutrition, paired with my love for running, has peaked my interest in running nutrition. I know there are a number of products on the market that can be used during long run training and races – goos, gels, bars, waffles, and chews. Up until a month ago, I’d actually never trained with any of these items. My longest run was a half marathon and I had always trained with eating chopped dates. I also can’t run and drink water because I wind up choking on the water (yes, I refuse to stop just to drink).
I came across a running podcast a few weekends ago and it couldn’t have been more perfect timing because they were about to host a weekend-long nutrition summit. I tuned in for nearly every podcast, vigorously taking notes in hopes of learning the “best” foods for runners. But what I learned was true to the underlying theme of my coursework – everyone is different and will have different things that work best for them.
What I did learn, in addition to my lectures for school, is how important it is to properly fuel our bodies pre and post-workout. When it comes to long runs, our bodies are working so much harder than the standard 30-minute gym sesh or a light, 3-mile run. Every time we run, we’re basically breaking down our muscle fibers and re-building them to be stronger. That’s why it’s so important to re-fuel properly after a run so our bodies have the nutrients available to properly re-build our muscles. And it’s just as important to fuel pre-run to ensure that our body doesn’t begin harvesting energy from these same muscles.
Two foods I learned about in my research are sweet potatoes and beets. Sweet potatoes are just slam-packed with nutrients like beta-carotene, vitamins C, manganese, and dietary fiber. In addition to being nutritional powerhouses, they’re much lower on the glycemic index than regular white potatoes. What does low-glycemic mean? Basically, the lower the lower glycemic index an item is, the slower our body digests it, making us feel full, longer!
Beets are another powerhouse, packing potassium, copper, and magnesium into their purple bodies. The cool thing about beets is that there is research out showing that beetroot juice can help to improve exercise performance. Studies have shown by taking in small shots of beetroot juice during training and before a race, the body begins to experience a stronger output without expending any extra energy. In basic English, this means you’re getting more energy out without actually expending that extra energy. Pretty cool, huh?
These two foods are the inspiration for this week’s muffin bites. We tested them in our running group over the weekend and found these to be pretty darn tasty!! I hope you enjoy them too!
Sweet Beets Bites
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 T ground flaxseed
- 1 cup cooked and mashed sweet potato (about 1 small)
- 3/4 cup mashed banana
- 2 T coconut sugar
- 1 T maple syrup
- 1/4 cup mashed beets
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a mini muffin tin snd set aside
- In a medium bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients (except sugar) and set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together sweet potato, banana, sugar, syrup, beets, milk and vanilla. Pour over dry ingredients and stir to combine. Mix until just moistened.
- Scoop into muffin tins and bake for 15-20 minutes. Check at the 15 minute mark, just to be sure and not overcook!
- Sweet potatoes are excellent source of vitamin A and polyphenols. Polyphenols are phytochemicals that have antioxidant properties. Every human being needs antioxidants in order to help maintain wellness and it’s been shown that having these helps stop the progression of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer!
- Although magnesium is the 4th most abundant mineral in the human body, more than 70% of the population is magnesium deficit! Beets are high in magnesium, amongst other fantastic benefits!
- Did you know that in baking, you can substitute mashed banana for oil or sugar?