Burning fat as fuel

Recently I have been experimenting with training in a fasted state. Like most people I never know what to eat on my morning runs, I always feel tempted to have a banana smoothie or some other high energy food packed full of carbohydrates. Often I will do this and find that after around 30 mins of running I will start to receive a mild stitch in my side. Not pleasant and not the recipe for recording some quick times.

So just incase readers are not aware of ‘fasted training’. It is essentially undertaking exercise without consuming carbohydrates beforehand. The reason to do this is to get my body used to burning fat as its primary source of energy on longer runs. The idea being that I can prepare myself to run a marathon using fat as my primary fuel. Our body only has a limited amount of glycogen this is around 90 minutes for most people but an unlimited supply of one energy ‘fat’. By training in this way I am hoping I will be able to get my body to switch to primarily using fat to fuel long runs.

Like I said this is a bit of an experiment for me at the moment and tomorrow I will be doing a 9 mile run with my friend Clare again without eating. However I will take some dates with me incase I bonk if we decide to go a bit further. Actually according to Tim Van Orden who has previous been US Trail Runner of the year; you can eat carbohydrates after 30 mins of running as your body has switched over to a fat burning system.

Last week I did my first longer run in a fasted state and despite a bit of a drop half way I picked it back up and was fairly happy with my performance as it was the first time I have gone this distance since returning to running.

8 miles plus

I highly recommend checking out this video by Tim Van Orden talking about the reasons behind fasted training. He gives so much great advice here. And don’t worry when I get in from my run I will be eating plenty of carbohydrates and hydrating.

Durian Rider also recommends fasting before short/mid distances up to 21km. Two slightly different angles but both well worth watching.

I will let you know how I get on as I look for the perfect formula to help me achieve my best possible time at the Ashford Half Marathon in just over 3 weeks.

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What a vegan athlete eats

Fresh organic vegetables
I have been writing this blog for about 6 weeks now and I just wanted to say thanks for everyone who taken the time to read my blog, especially those who have gotten in touch with me. I have found connecting with other runners really inspirational and it has helped inspire me to train harder. The online running community is proving a fantastic place full of positive people living interesting lives.

So last week I asked a friend of mine what he thought of the blog and he said he liked it but I haven’t talked about food much. Which I realise I haven’t really. So I thought I would make this blog about what I am eating currently. I will give a quick rundown on a typical running day.

Breakfast

I am on fruit only breakfasts 6 out of 7 days a week with the occasional Sunday treat of pancakes or a cooked breakfast. I am generally eating my breakfast fruit in smoothie form to save time and to make it easier to consume a large quantity of fruit in one go. I like to base my smoothies around bananas, I have always been a big fan of them and they provide a great source of carbohydrates and good sugars to  power my running.

Below are a couple of favourite smoothies to make (I just use a electric hand blender)

Banana and spinach

  • 2 bananas
  • 200 ml of water
  • A handful of spinach

Banana and chocolate

  • 2 bananas
  • 200 ml or organic soya milk or your favourite milk of choice
  • A teaspoon of cocoa powder

Pineapple and apple

  • One whole pineapple
  • 2 apples
  • 100 ml of water

Pineapple and apple

Lunchtime

About a year ago I stopped buying packaged bread from supermarkets, I had become interested in the real bread movement and I am lucky enough to live in an area where artisan bakeries are easy to come by. Packaged bread which we woof down in the UK contains up to 17 chemicals most which I have no idea what they are. This grossed me out. So now when I eat bread it normally is of the sourdough variety, I often get bread from my local bakery and recently a fellow runner Lauren has started baking sourdough bread and selling it to her friends.

However I have shifted away from my sandwich a day lunches, I occasional will have a real bread sandwich but most of the time I opt for a salad or leftovers from the night before. If I do make a salad I will usually use a grain like bulgar wheat, quinoa or brown rice. I have to say a huge bowl of salad with lots of weird and wonderful tomatoes from my local farmers market is the perfect treat.

Dinner 

Now this is really a varied affair, since embarking on my journey to a meat free life I have become really interested in cooking. I draw influences from a whole range of different cultures when I create my food. Living in London means you’re constantly exposed to new and exciting food and I am lucky enough to have many friends who are great cooks and inspire me to create new and exciting dishes consistently.

Tempura

To give you a snapshot these are my dinners over the past 7 days:

Monday

Bulgar wheat pilaf with peppers

Tuesday

Leftover pilaf, cucumber chunks in hummus, roasted squash, peppers and salad

Wednesday

Polish food, gherkins, vegan homemade potato gnocchi, mushrooms and onions

Thursday

Gobi aloo cauliflower, potato tomato curry

Friday

Green runner bean balti curry

Saturday

Mix of Japanese food including sushi, glass noodles with sweet potato, spring rolls, miso

Sunday

Tempured courgettes, courgette flowers, carrot salad with ginger and garlic, red cabbage salad, quinoa with peppers

So this is a snapshot of what I eat, I am lucky to live in an area with a great farmers market and a wide range of organic stores where I am able to get affordable fresh produce daily. I know that this isn’t as easy for everyone especially those living in the suburbs in the UK. If you’re one of those people you should check out the possibility of getting a vegetable box delivered from your local farm.

Finally I would love to hear what other vegan/vegetarian runners eat whilst training? Please drop me a tweet or even better comment on this blog.

Thanks for reading,

Damien