Nutrition – Foods to avoid Fuelling up on! Part 1


Guest blogger Nicole Walsh, Holistic Nutritionist




Many of you are seasoned runners and know your bodies well enough to know what foods work best for you in terms of maximising your performance during training, on race-days, and for post run recovery. Some of you are possibly new to the running bug and seeking ways to improve your nutrition in order to improve your timings, build strength, become more resilient to injury and illness or perhaps to lose weight.

Regardless of where you are on your running journey, you will benefit from removing the following list of inflammatory foods from your diets. Now we have all heard about ‘inflammation’ in the body but what exactly is it? Well put very simply there are two types of inflammation:

Temporary (localised) inflammation
● Your body’s response to intense exercise or injury (e.g. tired and sore muscles after a hard run).
● Inflammation is temporary and in fact helps your body to repair itself.

Chronic (systemic) inflammation

● Your body’s response to eating inflammatory foods.
● Inflammation is ongoing and your body takes much longer than normal to recover after runs. You may experience more pain after your run and also tire quicker than usual whilst running.

In order to avoid the ‘bad’ type of inflammation in the body you should do your best to avoid the following foods:

Refined SugarRefined Sugar
Many people are sugar addicts but the ‘sugar fix high’ only lasts a few hours after which your body crashes, leaving you lethargic and craving more to get that ‘high’ feeling again. This sugar ‘high’ is a false representation of having energy. All you end up with is exhaustion, anxiety, and moodiness.

Refined sugar is sugar that has been processed. During the processing, washing, boiling, centrifuging, filtering, and drying occur. At the end of this process, all nutritional elements are gone. What remains is 95% sucrose and insignificant materials that have no nutritional value.

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
This is the number one sweetener used by manufacturers today and is found in fizzy drinks, fruit juices, ketchup, sweetenedcereals, cakes, biscuits, pasta sauces, and so much more. Critics of the extensive use of HFCS in food sweetening argue that this highly processed substance is more harmful to humans than regular sugar, contributing to weight gain by affecting normal appetite functions.

Artificial sweeteners 
These are exactly that; artificial sweeteners made of chemicals that taste sweet like sugar. There are various artificial sweeteners on the market today. These include:

Aspartame (NutraSweet) is a chemical that stimulates the brain to think something is sweet, which actually causes more food cravings, which can lead to loading up on carbs. Sucralose is a zero-calorie artificial sweetener which is 600 times sweeter than sucrose and twice as sweet as saccharin. Saccharin is another artificial sweetener. Studies have shown that saccharin acts like a carcinogen, and has been known to cause weight gain in those who consumed it in great amounts.

Giving up sugar will lower your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart attacks. Your metabolism becomes stable thereby burning all that fat the sugar placed in the body. The result is a loss of body weight.

Try to consume alternative and healthier sweeteners such as rice malt syrup, raw honey, pure maple syrup, stevia (a natural non-caloric herb), dates and ripe bananas.

Refined Cooking OilsRefinedCookingOils
There are many oils used in cooking that have been refined including vegetable, soybean, corn, cottonseed, olive (except for virgin, cold-pressed), and safflower oil.  The process of refining oils changes the natural composition of the fats, making them rancid (oxidised) which in turn destroys the antioxidants and creates free radicals (which causes inflammation in the body) that damage our healthy cells.

Aim to use acceptable oil such as raw, virgin coconut oil (which has wonderful anti-inflammatory properties) and cold pressed extra virgin olive.

Hydrogenated Fats
The process of hydrogenation prevents oils from going rancid too quickly. Hydrogenated fat is made by the process of forcing hydrogen gas into oil at high pressure. Margarine is an example of this. The problem with hydrogenation is that the essential fatty acids (the good stuff) are converted to bad stuff, trans-fat.

The first thing trans-fat does is raise the level of bad cholesterol but it also lowers the good cholesterol (or HDL) at the same time.

When you buy foods such as tortilla chips, crisps, chips, fried chicken, donuts, etc. you are feeding your body oils that have been hydrogenated and refined.

Instead use real butter which contains anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and butyric acid, which is anti-inflammatory and promotes the growth of healthy intestinal cells.

Low Fat Foods
Whole-fat foods go through significant processing to become low-fat foods. Often, after the fat has been removed, sugar is added to help improve the taste of the food. This added sugar increases the amount of simple carbohydrates in the low-fat food, raises the calorie content, and actually makes the food unhealthier overall.

You’re actually better off eating whole-fat foods in smaller quantities than low-fat foods in larger quantities. Whole-fat foods will keep your blood sugar level even and delay or prevent an energy crash during your run, depending on the distance you are running.

Expect more nutritional advice from Nicole Walsh to prepare you for the run.