Friday, April 1, 2011


"Most people will run better in their next race if they lose a pound of body fat." -Exercise immunology expert David Nieman

Amby Burfoot has another great article up on the Peak Performance blog at I feel like I need this disclaimer every time I reference this blog, but believe it or not, Runners World does actually publish some decent information online. Anyway, in this blog Amby speaks with David Nieman, who he calls, "among the smartest and most impeccable of exercise scientists."

With the introductions out of the way, the second half of the post contains the section on post workout glycogen re-stocking and the QOTD.  His words, with my emphasis added in bold:

This is a pet peeve of mine. Runner's World and every other fitness publication is always talking about the importance of re-stocking "glycogen stores" shortly after you finish a workout. Chocolate milk is a current favorite choice, but you also read about energy bars, and peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches, or maybe tuna sandwiches.

The research findings are valid enough. That's not the issue. The issue is that this finding doesn't apply to 99 percent of us. It's for Ironman triathletes and marathoners doing double workouts and 120 miles a day. These folks are never more than a few hours away from their next workout, and for them it's important to practice maximal re-stocking.

For the 99 percent of us, it's smarter to practice maximal food restraint. We'd be better off losing a couple of pounds than re-stocking in world-record time. In my opinion, what most of us should eat after a typical workout is a glass of water and a banana. Or something equally light. Yes, we need fluids. Yes, we'll enjoy a few carbs. But the fewer the better, if you want to know the truth. Your next meal is only 3 to 4 hours off, and you'll pack away plenty of glycogen-restocking calories then.

Nieman agreed with me. I wasn't taking notes, but he said something like: "I've looked at those studies, and the glycogen gain is very modest. Most people will run better in their next race if they lose a pound of body fat."

Amby and I apparenly have similar pet peeves, as I have had similar thoughts.  This is especially prevalent among triathletes and ultrarunners, as they compete in long distance events which do require on course fueling.  However, just because a race may require the consumption of calories, doesnt mean immediately refueling is imperative after or during every workout. IOW, you really dont need a gel, or even some sports drink, to complete that 40 minute run. 

So by all means, if you've got a multiple workout day planned, make sure to get some calories right after the first and/or second workout. Otherwise, drink some water and make some real food. It'll taste better which will allow you to eat less and race faster.

BTW: I also love how Amby calls out, "Runners World and every other fitness publication" on a Runners World blog. Priceless.

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