How to Make the Most out of Your Running Fuel with Aligned Modern Health

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In partnership with Aligned Modern Health, Fleet Feet Sports is hosting a series of nutritional seminars throughout the summer months. These aren’t your typical nutrition talks. We will cover topics that aim to benefit you and will take your understanding of how food intake affects your everyday - not just training and race day - to the next level.

Our first seminar launched this past week and focused on how to read nutrition labels on food containers and understanding those ingredients that are in those labels. We had the pleasure of listening to Aligned Modern Health’s Registered Dietitian, Olivia Wagner MS, RDN, LDN, this past weekend to cover the topic.

As an athlete, it’s necessary to understand why food labels and ingredients are so important to your body.

The body breaks down food to either be used as immediate energy or to be stored for later. Nutrient-dense, healthy foods help to fuel performance by making you feel more alert and energetic. A lack of protein will mean slow muscular growth and repair, lack of carbs will mean very low energy levels, and lack of fats will mean your hormones aren’t going to be at the concentration level they should be for optimal health and athletic performance. Choosing anti-inflammatory ingredients and reducing those known to be harmful will improve memory, learning, sleep, immune system and recovery from training and events.

Before we can understand each ingredient, we have to learn how to properly read a nutrition label. Each label is comprised of ingredient label, and nutrition facts panel.

As your eyes go down the label you’ll hit the ingredients panel. Ingredients are listed in descending order and typically provides the common allergens included in the product.

When looking at ingredients labels, “take the PAR approach”, says Wagner.

P: Pronounceable

A: Appropriate for the food product

R: Recognize as a whole food ingredient.

Quick tip: Choose products where at least 75% ingredients are naturally occurring and appropriate for that food item: Wagner says, "Ask yourself, farm or factory?"

When purchasing products, Aligned Modern Health recommends AVOIDING the following ingredients:

  1. Artificial Sweeteners

  2. Sodium Nitrates + Nitrites

  3. Caragreenan

  4. BHA & BTA

  5. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

  6. Artificial Colors

  7. Hydrogentated Oils

  8. Corn Sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup

  9. Brominated Vegetable Oil

  10. Maltodextrin

To support exercise induced inflammation and immune health, Olivia recommends athletes INCLUDE the following nine ingredients in your sports fuel and recovery options:

  1. Turmeric

  2. Tart cherries

  3. Acai Berries

  4. Sunflower seeds

  5. Raw cacao

  6. Chia and flax seed

  7. Beets and beet juice

  8. Green tea

  9. Walnuts

  10. Egg

Quick tip: Wagner warns against purchasing supplements online unless from a reliable source. Unfortunately, products may be tampered with or sold past expiration. Ideally, purchase from a trusted sports shop, physician, or a recommended online supplement distribution site.

When buying or cooking meals during your training season, look for WHOLE FOOD INGREDIENT sources such as:

For protein:

  • Grass-fed, pastured animal protein and egg 

  • Beans and legumes

  • Wild-caught fish

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Grass-fed collagen

  • Full fat, organic rBGH free dairy (goats, sheeps or cows)

  • Grass-fed whey

  • Organic hemp or pea protein from trusted sources instead of soy protein isolate (SPI) and hydrolyzed proteins

For carbohydrates:

  • 100% whole grains

  • Dried fruit or fruit puree instead of agave, brown rice syrup,sugar alcohols, or sucralose

  • Whole fruits ( especially antioxidant rich berries)

  • Beans and legumes

  • Starchy vegetables (sweet potato, winter squash, parsnips)

For fat:

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Avocados

  • Unrefined oils (coconut oil, olive oil, sunflower seed oil, flax oil) instead of fractionated palm kernel oil or refined palm oil

  • Coconut and full-fat coconut milk

  • Olives

For fiber:

  • From fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds instead of inulin & chicory root

For your specific training and race day nutrition needs, here are some great examples to test out this season. We recommend trying one of these nutrition plans during training to see how your body reacts, not the day before your big race.

1 hour before exercises: 15 - 25 grams of carbohydrates

In place of a:

  • 8oz sports drink
  • 1/2 sports gel
  • 1 small apple or, banana

  • 1 cup of sliced fruit

  • 12 - 16 oz coconut water

  • A small baked potato

  • 2 dates

  • 20 grapes

  • *with electrolytes as needed


During exercise: 30 - 60 grams of carbohydrates

~30 grams

In place of:

  • 1 packet of sports chew
  • 1 sports gel
  • 1 packet of sports chew

  • 1 sports gel

  • 3 apple sauce packets

  • 2 dates

  • 1 small pack of raisins

  • ¼ cup dried tart cherries

~60 grams

In place of:

  • 8oz sports drink + 1 sports gel + 3 chews
  • 4 chews, 1 energy gel
  • 8oz baby red potatoes roasted with sea salt, packed in foil

  • ½ mashed sweet potato, with sea salt  (in a plastic baggie, rip off the edge to squeeze out), 2 dates 

  • *Electrolytes as needed  

Wagner emphasizes that each person's nutrition recommendations will vary based on training intensity, temperature, sweat rate, individual metabolic needs, and individual digestive tolerance. For personalized nutrition support, Fleet Feet Sports recommends reaching out to Aligned Modern Health to figure out your best nutrition menu. We here at Fleet Feet Sports are here to help meet those sports nutrition needs.

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