Before I go any farther I need to make it clear that the title of this article is a complete lie and is very misleading. The fact will forever remain that Brussels Sprouts and Kale will never taste good. However, spend one day eating race food and your appreciation for real food (I’m talking cheeseburgers, not veggies) will increase exponentially. Often times, nutrition is overlooked by newer or younger endurance athletes. But most experienced competitors will tell you nutrition is every bit as important as physical training. So what do you eat?

For starters, a lot of calories. Calories are your best friend when training. Along with calories, you need to try and include sodium, potassium, and sugar. Depending on the length of your race your body will burn anywhere from 1,000 calories to 12,000 calories. That being said, it is very important to be giving your body more than just water. One of the most commonly used sources of nutrition by endurance athletes is gels and chews. Gels, also referred to as GU’s (name brand), is just what it sounds like, a gel like substance that is packed with high amounts of sugar, sodium, and potassium to create a quick and easy source of calories without filling you up. Chews act much like gels but have a consistency that is closer to a gummy bear. One issue many athletes struggle with is food upsetting their stomach while they workout. That being said, it is very important to practice with the food you plan to race with to ensure your stomach can handle what you are feeding it. Another great source of calories can be found in plethora of sport drinks out there. Fluid based nutrition is typically much easier on your stomach and can be a great source of nutrition. The next question is when and how much should I eat?

Disclaimer: This is going to be different for everyone. For a starting point, most people create their training nutrition plan based on calories per hour and then divide it between cycling and running. On the bike, typical caloric consumption ranges from 200 calories an hour to 450 calories an hour. Personally, I aim for 350 calories per hour and it looks like this…

When I get on the bike:

  • One gel (100 calories)
  • Immediately followed by 8oz of sports drink (100 calories)
  • Followed by 8oz of water

30 minutes later:

  • One gel (100 Calories)
  • Immediately followed by 4oz of sports drink (50 calories)
  • Followed by 8oz of water

Then I repeat this process until I finish my ride.

Like I said before, every person is going to have a different system and different amounts of calories that work for their body. In whatever you choose, the key is to do it consistently, take notes on how it went, and try different techniques and times to determine what works best for you.

Running is much like cycling, but the amount of calories consumed is far less. For me its very simple. I take one gel every 45 minutes to an hour followed by 8oz of water to dilute it in my stomach and that’s it. Others will do chews, sport drinks only, fruit, chips, cookies… you’ll see a lot of odd foods being eaten at races. Again, like the bike, try different times intervals of eating, different sources of food, and different amounts. I recommend taking notes on everything during this period to help better remember what you did on various days.

The last step is recovery, which for me is pretty simple. Some people like to do certain foods at certain time increments, combined with different tribal dances to optimize recovery, and if that works for you, great! For me, I just make sure to get a decent amount of protein in me within 30 minutes of finishing my workout and try to sip on electrolytes and lots of water for the rest of the day.

I’ll leave you with this: try not to get frustrated if you don’t find a system that works the first time. For many people it takes years to perfect a nutrition plan for training. And when you do find a system that works, don’t be afraid to try mixing it up every once and a while to see if something else works better. Like I said before, the best way to find what works is simply trying different plans and being consistent in all of them. And I promise, if you try that enough you’ll start justifying bringing breakfast tacos and beef jerky with you as a source of nutrition. A good coach might tell you to not waste your time because that won’t work, but I’m all about a good story. So by all means, carry on… and happy eating.

Last month, Nutrabolt designer Mark Lancaster attended the BOSS Outdoor Survival School. We sat down with him to ask a few questions about the experience and to learn a little bit about what it means to survive in the wilderness.

Tell me about your trip. Where was it, how long were you gone, how many people were with you, etc.?

ML: Well, it was basically a week-long, 60-mile hike through southwestern Utah. It was pretty remote. We didn’t see a single person outside our group of eight during the entirety of the trip. The first 36 hours we went without food, shelter, fire, sleep, and really any substantial clothing. The first night I actually slept on the bare ground with nothing more than one layer of clothing and a plastic poncho as a blanket. It was 35 degrees that night. Sleep didn’t happen. All of this was intentional of course, but it was obviously difficult hiking the first 20 miles in that 36 hour period without any sleep or caloric intake other than the random berry or two found on the way.

After that impact phase, we were allowed some food (around 800 calories a day), were taught how to make a proper shelter, how to make a fire with a bow drill, shown how to identify plants and animal tracks, and ultimately how to survive in the wilderness with minimal amount of gear. Thankfully, everyone in the group was upbeat and had a great sense of humor, even when we hiked a few hours in the rain and cold.

Was this your first trip like this?

ML: It was my first without the usual camping gear (backpack, stove, head lamp, fuel, tent, sleeping bag, winter clothes, etc.), but definitely not my first hiking trip. I’ve taken climbing trips to the northern cascades, Argentina, and Alaska.

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What made you decide to take this survival trip?

ML: Well, over the last five years or so I’ve been on numerous types of climbing expeditions and trips, and I figured it’d be useful and valuable to know how to survive in case something went terribly wrong on future climbing trips. That, and it’s always good to learn a new craft, you know?

What was your favorite part of the trip?

ML: My favorite part was probably the last day when the instructors pointed to a location on a topographical map, told us to be there before sundown, and then left us alone to figure everything out. I had some experience reading topo maps, so I kinda took charge. I got us where we needed to be and with enough time to take make dinner before sundown. I generally enjoy challenges that leave you autonomous and this certainly fit the bill.

Other than that, the group itself was amazing. Not a single person complained and we all got along uncommonly well for being a random group of people around the US.

What would you say is the most important thing about surviving in the wild?

ML: There’s a common saying that says you can live 3 minutes without oxygen, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food, but to me the most important thing is a stable and positive mindset. The key to survival is to not even approach those positions where you are out of oxygen, shelter, water or food. And you can only do that with a balanced and calm mind (as tough as that may be in a survival situation).

If and when will you do another trip and to where?

ML: I’ve got a couple of ideas: I either want to climb a few of the Mexican volcanoes or take a shot at Denali in Alaska next year. Though climbing Denali is a relatively expensive endeavor, so that might have to wait a little while.

As you can probably assume, I get all types of questions about training and nutrition. Most, if not all are great questions because let’s face it, if you don’t know or are not knowledgeable on a subject asking is what we are supposed to do. But here in the past several years that has been a plethora of self-labeled “experts”, Fitness Coaches, and general “Bros”. or their female counter parts, “Broette’s giving you so called facts of advice on many training, nutrition and industry trends, often accompanied by pseudo-scientific ridiculousness that has little scientific support or even practical rational. Sadly, training and nutrition myths surround the lives of nearly every person who trains either recreationally or competitively. Despite what dubious testimonials, books, media, consumer outlets, “TV” doctors, Dr. OZ or any other celebrity personality say, some of them are totally ridiculous and some of them do not have, like anything else, a grain of truth.

The research meathead, “Coach WORKS” has come to save the day! We’re laying the Nutrabolt smackdown with some real science and real truth. This is by no means the total and complete list but here are some popular ones I get most and I want to help set the record straight. Welcome to “Words with Works”

Myth 1: Higher protein diets are bad for your Kidneys (bum bum buuummmmmmm)

Truth: The crap meter is through the roof with this! This is likely the number one nutrition myth invading your household, infiltrating your children’s playground and acting like Ron Weasley having the wrong wand in Harry Potter, a disaster ready to happen. Many people have stated that high protein diets over the recommended daily allowance (RDA) could be bad for your kidneys. Which we all know how our government has no idea about proper nutrition.

There are even outdated sections of textbooks and research articles published on this very topic. The original research does show that people who eat protein and have(key words) kidney issues will put more strain on their kidneys. It’s true that if you consume more protein and you measure kidney work, it will increase, but the increase is seen with an increased glomerular filtration rate (GFR), as it is a measure of how hard your kidneys are working. Before you “freak out,” there isn’t any “damage” because high protein intakes have been shown to enhance greater bone density, greater muscle mass, greater strength and recovery.

Myth 2: Eating Fat makes you Fat. (Hey I love butter)

Truth: The reality is that fat doesn’t make you fat, lazy, slow, weak, diabetic or sloth-like (processed and over excess of sugar does this) Fat actually helps. For example, in terms of fat loss, studies consistently show that diets that are high in fat (but low in carbs) lead to significant more weight loss compared with low fat diets. Toward the fat loss aim, displacing carbohydrates by increasing fat creates an optimal fat loss environment because insulin is kept low, aiding in fat usage for energy provisions during training (although a whole different topic).

From a physiological and biochemical view, low fat diets make little sense. Lower fat diets can also have negative impacts on adipokines (hormones released specifically from your fat cells), which affect fat loss. Low carb, high fat diets also lead to all sorts of other benefits including increased HDL cholesterol, lower triglycerides, lower blood sugar and insulin levels, more abdominal fat loss and improved size of LDL particles.

Myth 3: You need to get sore from your Training to get continued results and adaptation.

Truth: This is probably one of those uncommon myths compared to many others, but it still deserves to be addressed. Many trainees mistakenly assume that if they fail to get sore in the subsequent days following a training session, the workout was unproductive and inferior. Wrong! If you simply wish to get sore, either train infrequently or perform exercises under stress with heavier loads like eccentric training.

I know that it might be a shock, but it’s actually called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). This is the product of inflammation caused by microscopic tears in the connective tissue elements that heighten the sensation of pain. DOMS is typically characterized as muscle soreness and swelling that becomes evident eight to 10 hours after exercise and peaks between 24 and 48 hours (Crossfitters usually think it’s Rhabdo, sorry Mr. Nichols, which is another topic) It should be noted, however, that “tenderness” rather than soreness might be a more appropriate word to use.

Myth 4: I can spot reduce my problem areas (If I do 10000000 situps I will have a six pack)

Truth: Spot-reduction is not possible unless you go for liposuction ( which I wouldn’t recommend). Without such surgery, your body will draw fat from different regions at different rates depending on your genetic makeup.The only true way is to have proper Nutrition and an active lifestyle to lose bodyfat .If spot reduction was possible by training and diet, you’d seldom see women with lower-body fat deposits or men with big guts.

Myth 5: Bcaa’s are the same thing as protein.

Truth: Protein is a complex of several amino acids linked together. BCAA’s are branched chain amino acids: L-leucine, iso-leucine and L-valine. These three amino acids are the most abundant type in muscle tissue. If you take BCAAs before and after you work out, you protect your muscles from breakdown.
However, BCAAs release insulin, which makes them anabolic just like carbs. Because they act like carbs, it’s probably best not to take them before a low-intensity cardio workout—especially if you’re trying to burn that last pound or two of body fat.

Around 5 o’clock on my very first day at Nutrabolt, Doss Cunningham walked through the office dribbling a basketball and asked if anyone wanted to join him for a pick-up game in our gym. That was the moment I knew I was home. One of the things that drew me to Nutrabolt was that it was filled with others who desired to live a lifestyle like mine: active, engaged, and healthy. There are so many different activities to get involved in; sometimes it’s hard to choose! You can find anyone from golfers to crossfitters.

We take pride in the active lifestyle of our team; there is a spirit of competition supported through events such as Cellucor Olympics and FitBit competitions. These events have provided our team with an outlet to discover what our personal calling is in the health/wellness world. As an organization that is deeply rooted in our community, we realize the importance of sharing our love for wellness to those around us.  We decided to partner with the BCS Race Series on an elevated level to bring you our very own Nutrabolt Half Marathon and 10k on October 25th.

We live by our mantra—Grow and Give Back—and this race is no exception. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to two local charities in the BCS community—Nutrabolt’s home. What better way to give back to your community while also getting off the couch at the same time?

To top all of that off, who doesn’t like a little music, craft beer and great food? Yes, you read that right—beer! This year’s race is Oktoberfest themed and each participant is walking away with some serious swag including an Asics backpack, finisher shirt and glass stein (wait for it)… that you can use to fill up with one of the seven different beers from local breweries we’ll have waiting for you at the finish line.

Worried you won’t be ready in time? No need to stress, we’ll help you! Cue Nutrabolt Run Club. Bryan/College Station’s very own running club for the runner who just wants to have fun while training for a 5k, 10k, half marathon, or full marathon. The club will meet every Saturday beginning August 1st.  No pressure and no fees, just come to run, get some awesome swag, and have a little fun at the same time!

We hope to see you on the course, running the streets of BCS with the club, or if you really enjoy it, both!

To sign up for the half marathon or 10k, please visit www.nutrabolthalf.com

To sign up for the running club, please visit BCS Marathon + Half Marathon on Facebook.

You can also follow us along the way using #RunThis on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Happy Running!