If you’re reading this it’s likely that you are someone who puts some thought into how you fuel your body while you’re being active. That’s why we use Tailwind right?! But what that also means is that while trying to learn about how to best fuel your body you likely have come across nutrition misinformation. There are many messages about food on social media that just aren’t based in science but they sound exciting so they spread like wildfire.
As a Registered Dietitian and Certified Intuitive Eating Counsellor, some of the more harmful posts I’ve seen on social media are in regards to cutting out certain foods for perceived health benefits or even worse trying to make athletes feel guilty for consuming certain foods or products.
As an athlete, your body needs fuel so that you can perform your best in your daily training and on race day. That fuel comes mostly from carbohydrates as it is your body’s preferred source of fuel. In fact, it loves carbs so much that if it does not get enough it will turn protein (aka your muscles) into carbs so that it can use them for fuel. I think we can likely all agree that losing muscle mass is not a goal for athletes.
Where it gets tricky is figuring out which type of carb is the “best”. Sorry to disappoint but there is no winner here. Let’s break down why. There are 2 types of carbs: complex and simple. Think of your complex carbs as things that you would want to eat for most meals on a daily basis. They are full of fibre, cause a gradual rise in blood sugar, and take longer to digest. Complex carbs are foods like beans, barley, quinoa, peas, and corn. On the other hand, we have simple carbohydrates. Think of these as the ones you want to eat mostly before and during exercise because they provide quick energy and don’t take as long to digest. Simple carbs are foods like fruits, candy, refined grains, table sugar, and sugary drinks.
You may look at the list of simple carbs and think that those foods are “unhealthy” or maybe you feel guilty when you eat them. And sure–if that’s where we got the majority of our carbs from on a daily basis, we probably wouldn’t feel too great and may end up with some health problems down the road. But- when you are exercising these are the types of carbs that your body digests best and Tailwind uses this fact to formulate Endurance Fuel to work with your body instead of against it. If you eat something high in fibre, it is likely to sit in your stomach and cause GI distress or in simpler terms, you’re going to be running to find the next tree.
When it comes to fueling your body for your workouts, you shouldn’t feel guilty about the foods that you’re consuming. Would I eat a Pop-Tart on a daily basis for breakfast? No- and not because it may be viewed as “unhealthy” but because I would normally want something with a little more protein and fat to help keep me full longer like some eggs, fruit, and toast. But if I’m heading out the door in 30 minutes to get a run in, the Pop-Tart is the better choice because it will digest quickly and give me the quick energy that I need. It’s important to experiment and find what works best for you. Use science, use personal experience but don’t avoid the foods that have the most potential to support your body during all your adventures because you think they are “unhealthy.”
Kayla Fitzgerald, RD LD
Certified Intuitive Eating Counsellor