What to Eat Before an Endurance Race

So you’ve decided to tackle an endurance race—maybe a marathon or half marathon, maybe a triathlon, century ride, all-day hike, or some other multi-hour effort. Of the many tough decisions you’ll make that day, one of the first is: What should you eat for breakfast?

There’s only one right answer, in a sense, and that is: Whatever you practiced during your training. Race day is not the time to try anything new, because you’ll be living with the consequences for several (possibly agonizing) hours. Still, you have to start somewhere, so here are some of the things you’ll want to keep in mind to prepare the best breakfasts.

Source: What to Eat Before an Endurance Race

Here are the rules that can’t be stressed enough:

  1. NO SURPRISES ON RACE DAY.  That includes finding out what type of gels or drinks they might be handing out. Find out in advance, try out in advance.
  2. It’s very personal.  Some like gels, some do not.  Vice versa.  There’s no wrong answer, just what works for you.

For me, gels take a while to kick in.  And it really depends on what what I’ve eaten and how soon.  Which is great – knowing that, I can take one before getting in the water so it hits when I’m on the bike.  But I was finding myself quite parched when I got to running – and it’s been hard to drink water while on the run.

Your mileage may vary 😉

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Heroic Scientists Want to Clean Up Cow Farts to Save the Planet

Most of us consider farts to be little more than a mild embarrassment. But cow farts (and burps) are a scourge upon the Earth, releasing heat-trapping methane that wreaks havoc on our climate. Now, heroic scientists want to put an end to global warming-by-flatulence once and for all.

Source: Heroic Scientists Want to Clean Up Cow Farts to Save the Planet

While it is fun to talk about farts, really most of the methane comes out the front end of the cow.

My takeaway is that methane deserves more attention than it’s getting relative to the CO2 emissions we’re flipping out about, especially if it’s true that climate change may result in the release of large amounts of methane trapped underground/undersea.

If pivoting somewhat to methane relieves some of the economic pressure that CO2-focused legislation is causing, then the pivot seems like an opportunity to have our cake (cut climate change risk) and eat it too (lessen the economic hit from the CO2 focus) somewhat.

Study: Probiotics Don’t Do Shit for Healthy Adults’ Shit

A new study suggests that if you’re a healthy adult without any underlying conditions mucking up your digestion, you might want to think twice before spending your hard-earned dollars on probiotics.

Source: Study: Probiotics Don’t Do Shit for Healthy Adults’ Shit

There are lots of personal anecdotes about probiotics helping someone through digestion related issues.  If it works for you, that’s all that really matters.

Temporarily Quitting Alcohol Brings Health Benefits

“DRY January”, for many a welcome period of abstinence after the excesses of the holiday season, could be more than a rest for body and soul. New Scientist staff have generated the first evidence that giving up alcohol for a month might actually be good for you, at least in the short term.

Many people who drink alcohol choose to give up for short periods, but there is no scientific evidence that this has any health benefits. So we teamed up with Rajiv Jalan at the Institute for Liver and Digestive Health at University College London Medical School (UCLMS) to investigate.

Source: Our Liver Vacation: Is a Dry January Really Worth It?

The study is small and informal, but it fits with what we know about how alcohol works on our bodies. Rather than quitting for a month and then going back on your usual schedule, it’s probably better to use this as a lesson in how easy it is to reverse some of the effects of alcohol.

Nutrition Information Isn’t 100% Accurate…but Don’t Worry About It

Whether you’re a keen shopper, a health-conscious parent, or an athlete training for a specific fitness goal, chances are you’ve looked at a food label or two, right? You probably check the total Calories per serving of many foods you eat, taking comfort when you make clean choices. But have you ever wondered how the caloric value of your food is determined?

Source: How Accurate Are Calorie Counts?

This is to address the anal retentiveness that some people can develop with tracking calories. It’s important to know how much you’re taking in on a daily basis for weight management, but it’s just as important to avoid striving for perfection with it—just as long as you are close enough.

Six Myths About Digestion That Just Won’t Die

Most of us have a vague idea of how digestion works: we eat food, break it down (that’s the scientific term, right?) and, somehow, profit. But without a better understanding of what goes on in there, we’re liable to believe a few bizarre myths that have become commonplace.

In reality, our digestive tract is a complex system with many parts that communicate with each other and the rest of our body. It’s also very adaptable to what we put in it, and doesn’t need specific food combinations or “cleanses” to keep working at its best. Here are some of the top myths about digestion, and the truths behind them.

Source: Six Myths About Digestion That Just Won’t Die

This stuff hasn’t been covered in a previous post.

The Difference Between Sugar and Sugar Alcohols

For many decades, sugar alcohols have been popular alternatives to sugar.  They look and taste like sugar, but have fewer calories and fewer negative health effects.  In fact, many studies show that sugar alcohols can actually lead to health improvements.  This article takes a detailed look at sugar alcohols and their health effects.

Source: Sugar Alcohols: Good or Bad?

The article didn’t mention that most of them, with the exception of erythritol, have a laxative effect.  Lest we forget the gummy bears of doom

Our Taste for Alcohol Goes Back Millions of Years

Alcohol has been part of human existence for millennia. Alcoholic beverages are an integral part of human culture. Like the wines consumed in Jewish and Christian rituals, these drinks have ceremonial and religious uses. Until the nineteenth century, beer, brandy, rum or grog was the drink of choice for sailors in lieu of stagnant water during long voyages. Alcohol is a social lubricant, an anesthetic and an antiseptic. It is one of the most widely used drugs in the world and has been manufactured since the advent of agriculture nearly 9000 years ago.  How is it that this drug — an intoxicating poison — has become such a part of human existence?

Source: Our Taste for Alcohol Goes Back Millions of Years

The majority of the article talks about the enzyme details…

While we started making alcohol when we figured out agriculture some 9,000 years ago, the research suggests that we’ve had exposure as far back as 10 million years ago.  Now consider that the Y-chromosomal Adam is believed to be ~208,300 years old (vs 200,000 years for Mitochondrial Eve).  Some posit that alcohol is what prompted agriculture – what a sobering thought.  Agriculture almost destroyed civilization

Alcohol is Paleo!

Alcohol is Paleo!

Asian Cuisine: Where’s the Cheese?

Lactose is the sugar in milk. Your body can’t use lactose directly, so lactose gets broken down into simpler sugars with the enzyme lactase. Mammals naturally produce lactase during infancy to nurse from their mothers, but then stop producing it as they grow older because originally they would not consume milk ever again.  Which is part of the supporting evidence for those against drinking milk/consuming dairy – we’re the only mammal to continue to drink milk after infancy.  But we’re also the one of the few things that uses tools, or are capable of speech.  All courtesy of evolution… 😉

As we evolved, we also got into agriculture and domesticating milk-producing animals such as goats or cows – gaining the ability to consume milk as adults. Our original state did not allow us to do that, but some individuals possessed a mutation wherein they would continue producing lactase as adults and thus allowing them to consume milk. In some cultures that trait was very valuable, resulting in increased survival and reproduction, so the trait became very common and eventually the norm. In other cultures the trait had no net gain and therefore does not propagate, and so not take hold.  What makes adult lactase production worthless for East Asians? It has to do with geography and available sources of calcium and vitamin D.

You need calcium in your diet. You can get that calcium from dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese), or tofu, sardines and leafy green vegetables. To make use of calcium your body also needs either vitamin D or lactose. You can get vitamin D from salmon, sardines, milk, tuna, eggs, or Shiitake mushrooms …or your body can make it when exposed to sunlight. Without vitamin D, lactose assists with the use of calcium. So, cultures with easy access to leafy greens plus sunlight or fish, calcium is taken care of and milk has no advantage. Cultures without access to leafy greens, sunlight or seafood need dairy either as a source of calcium, lactose, or both.

There is a difference between dairy that’s fermented (yogurt or most cheese) or unfermented (straight up milk). Fermented dairy products still have the calcium, but the lactose is broken down into simpler sugars, so lactase is not necessary to digest it. I suggest a study with a sample of at least 10 lactose intolerant people to test various fermented dairy products… and only one bathroom.   You could call the paper “Insane in the Methane”…  A culture with access to fish or sunlight but not leafy greens would benefit greatly from keeping dairy animals, but don’t benefit from still creating lactase as adults. They consume the milk as yogurt or cheese to get all the calcium they need and make use of that calcium, thanks to vitamin D.

While most attribute lactose tolerance to Northern Europeans, they were not the first people to have cheese – nor were they the originators of western civilization. Agriculture and domestication began in the Near East (Ancient Iraq, Syria etc) and they utilized their sheep (the first domesticated herd animal) for milk and cheese,  while creating massive cities and infrastructure while the Europeans were sitting in tents or mud huts hunting deer. Sure, groups like the Scythians who were a nuisance to the Assyrians existed, but they never had infrastructure and true “civilization”. Civilization (and cheese) originated in the Ancient Near East. The Greeks then borrowed civilization from the Ancient Near East, and later the Romans borrowed civilization from the Greeks – spreading civilization to Northern Europe.  [insert Life of Brian reference here]

Only the Asians living current day China, specifically far inland and to the north, would have an issue with lactose.  Those peoples who became the Mongols, who did consume dairy. Furthermore even fermented dairy never took hold in Chinese culture because of their trade networks – the Chinese were able to obtain their labor animals from other cultures (Tibetans, Mongols, etc).  They did not breed their own cows or goats – pigs were the primary meat animal raised. With no need for dairy, and without really having it around in the first place, they developed into a culture with virtually zero dairy of any type. Chinese culture influenced many others in Asia.

TLDR: It’s not that surprising when you realize that roughly 25% of the world’s population is lactose tolerant.  Most Asian populations are lactose intolerant.

If I Eat Steak, then Pineapple – Which is Digested First?

Pull up a stool 😉

Short answer: If you eat a pineapple immediately after eating a steak?  The two meals will be mixed together. The mixed meal will move slower than if you had only eaten a pineapple, and it will move faster than if you only ate a steak.

Long answer: Steak is predominantly protein and fat so it is more fully digested compared to pineapple, which is predominately fiber, water, sugar (fiber not being digested).

Pineapple will actually move faster along the digestive tract, since water and sugar are rapidly absorbed.  The fiber content also helps to move things along quickly.

A steak moves slowly in the digestive tract because it takes time to breakdown the fat and protein. Once broken down, the absorption of protein and fat are more complicated than sugar and water.

TLDR:  Most of the pineapple will be digested first. You will poop it all out at the same time.