One of my favorite recipes from the entire 30 marathons…
Peanut Butter & Blueberry Protein Porridge
Firstly, because warmed up in the microwave it tasted amazing. The oats fused with the cocoa nibs and blended with the soft banana to melt in your mouth. This meant it was as palatable as it was digestible and I could have happily fueled every marathon on this. But another reason I love this so much was because it had what i called a Dual-Fuel Energy Supply (fats and carbohydrates) which i’ve found my body runs very well off and here’s why…
Food and fitness are synonymous. You can’t modify one without impacting the other. Unfortunately as “fitness” gets longer, more intense and more complicated, so does your need for food. What this means is fueling for a marathon is often thought to be a nutritional minefield.
There are so many variables to take into consideration from diet macronutrient makeup (protein, fats and carbs) to the overall calorie content. Once you consider nutrigenomics ― the relatively new field of study concerned with how our genes interact with our nutrition ― it becomes almost impossible to make an educated guess on which foods to consume, by whom and when. Although sports science can offer guidance, I think the only way to truly improve your culinary IQ is to test it yourself. Which is what I did in an event I called, “Man Vs (Marathon) Food” where I ate everything from a traditional (fully fried) English breakfast to vegan snacks, pancakes granola drenched in nut butters.
After 30 days, 30 marathons and 1265 kilometres, this is what I learnt.
Man Vs (Marathon) Food | Food Theory
Your marathon time is determined long before you join the start line. It’s even determined before you lace up your trainers and apply the Vaseline to your thighs and tape to your nipples.
This is because the world’s best runners aren’t just good at running. No, they’re also good at eating. Whether they’re conscious of it or not, they are experts in bioenergetics ― the study of the transformation of energy in living organisms ― and they know how much to eat, when to eat it and how to eat it.
Something I wanted to master with a Cupboard of Carbohydrates and Fridge Full of Fat…
Cupboard of Carbohydrates
The world of sports nutrition has long believed carbohydrates are an athlete’s main source of fuel. Why? Because carb-rich foods like cereal, porridge oats, granola and sports drinks are eaten and drunk and then stored in the muscles as glycogen for us to then use during each and every mile of the marathon.
Fail to understand this and research published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition shows you might be destined for sports nutritional suicide.
This is because scientists wanted to study the impact carbohydrates had on 30km running performance. Taking a group of subjects they monitored their running speed and found it was, “Maintained throughout the race in the high-carbohydrate trial, whereas a decrease in the running speed occurred after 25km in the water trial” where athletes received limited carbohydrates.
Put simply it was around the 25km mark that athletes began to run low on muscle glycogen and were then unable to maintain “race speed” as stamina and strength began to fade.
This led nutritionists to conclude, “Performance time for a 30-km road race is improved after ingesting a carbohydrate drink.”
So I should head for the bakery and eat a giant granary loaf before my first marathon? Well, not so fast.
Fridge of Fats
Too often the world of nutritional science doesn’t consider the body and diet in its entirety. For instance, the study published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition didn’t take into account the quantity of fats in the diet and therefore my fridge full of fat.
This is because research conducted at the Centre for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado claims, “Muscle glycogen capacity (the carbohydrates we eat) is approximately 15 g/kg body weight.”
To use a sporting example, this means a marathon runner who weighs 67kg would only be able to store 1,005 grams of carbs (at the very most) and would therefore run out of muscle glycogen by the 20km mark.
Which is why research published by Nutrition Focus New Zealand Limited is of such importance. Citing the power of dietary fat, they proposed it could be used to fuel longer endurance-based events better than carbohydrates.
The study begins by saying, “The number of grueling events that challenge the limits of human endurance is increasing. Such events are also challenging the limits of current dietary recommendations (solely relying on carbohydrates).”
Our scientists from New Zealand added, although endurance athletes have favoured carb-loading before competing for years, “There are some situations for which alternative dietary options (adding fat to the diet) are beneficial.”
They have a very good point too. This is because whilst fat provides a whopping nine calories per gram of energy compared to carbohydrates four calories per gram.
All things considered, this is why my body loved Peanut Butter & Blueberry Protein Porridge since it provided my body with a Dual-Fuel approach to that days’ marathon.
Peanut Butter & Blueberry Protein Porridge
Do you love peanut butter? How about fresh fruit? What if we add a little cocoa nibs used to make chocolate? If you do, then this may be the best thing you ever try to fuel a run or workout routine. By far my favorite recipe of all 30 marathons, I present to you my Peanut Butter & Blueberry Protein Porridge recipe:
- 2 scoops of oats
- 1 handful of blueberries
- 1 chopped banana
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- 1 heaped tsp of cacao nibs
- 30g scoop of chocolate diet vegan protein
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 spoonful of flaxseed (optional)
How to Make
- Mix the oats and almond milk into a bowl
- Stir and place in the microwave for 30 seconds
- Add the cacao nibs and flaxseed and stir into the bowl
- Add blueberries and chopped banana on top