I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a little frustrated with the latest research on nutrition. On any given day, scientists and nutritionists are exclaiming the health benefits of a certain food or nutrient and the very next day a study is released denouncing the very same “evidence” presented in the previous study. I’m not here to belittle the work done by anyone in this industry; I’m merely stating my disgust for the mass confusion being caused by all of these conflicting stories.
For example, upon researching the topic of caffeine and running, I found that it is both beneficial and detrimental to performance and overall health. Wait… what?
The studies that I came across had many of the same variables but completely different outcomes. But how can that be? Perhaps they didn’t take into account that EVERYBODY IS DIFFERENT. What works for me may not work for you. I can’t tell you exactly what will work for you and neither can any of these scientists unveiling the latest nutritional research.
Don’t get me wrong; these studies can be very beneficial as a reference for any particular subject. However, they should be a starting point, not the last word. We are our own best research studies. Experiment and be mindful of the results. Most people have nutrition issues because they rely too heavily on other people’s opinions or they eat blindly and don’t correlate their eating habits with their performance. Write down what you eat, how you feel, and adapt accordingly. Food journaling is the most important tool we have to achieve our nutritional goals.
Journaling every single thing we eat may seem like a daunting task, but it is truly not difficult at all. I’m not telling you to weigh your bagel, measure your cream cheese, or request a detailed recipe breakdown when you eat at your favorite local restaurant. I simply suggest you keep a general log of what you consume in a day.
Breakfast: Oatmeal with blueberries and a cup of black coffee.
Lunch: Almond butter and strawberry jelly sandwich on sprouted bread and a banana
Dinner: Quinoa with beets, kale, and pistachios and coconut sorbet
It’s as easy as that. Then at the end of each day write a sentence or two regarding how you physically felt that day, particularly regarding your run. Given this information, you can find trends in how you feel and what you ate. Taking control of your own nutrition plan is only a matter of being aware of how we react to certain foods and not being afraid to experiment. Write it down, be mindful, and adjust your diet if necessary.
So, should you drink caffeine before a run? I don’t know, you tell me.
By Jonathan Kastner