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June 14, 2017

Food Fads: Which ones should runners try?

You’re probably thinking that since I’m writing an article about food, I must have my finger on the pulse of the food world. Truth be told, I’m just an idiot and my only food credentials are I once ghost wrote a column about baby food for a mommy blog. That being said, I’m here to look at some fads in the food world and see whether or not they’d be good for you, a runner, to take for a spin.

Kale

I haven’t bothered to google this, but someone once told me that the ridges in kale help scrape your intestines of unwanted schlock while being digested. I don’t like this. Mostly because the idea of anything inside of me being “scraped” sounds unappealing, and I like to think that there’s nothing in my guts that needs to be removed by some sort of culinary snowplow.

But as responsible adults, who enjoy healthy livin’, if you’re not on the kale train you should be. Additionally, as runners, we automatically get lumped into the AT RISK column for iron deficiency. This kale stuff has more iron (for you blood!) and more vitamin C (for absorption!) per serving than spinach. Don’t be dense, choose kale over spinach.

Chia seeds

I’m not positive if chia seeds fall into the category of “fad.” It’s not like pogs, or pokemon or dipping food in cheeto dust. But what I do know is that if you’re not eating these things, you damn well should be.

Have you heard of a little thing called electrolytes? Sure you have, it’s what Dr. Gator put in his famous drink to make himself a millionaire. What about calcium? Have you heard of that? It’s in milk, and probably a bunch of other stuff. And fiber and protein, too, yes? Great. Iron, Omega-3 fatty acids, and carbohydrates? These are all things you can find in a variety of healthy foods, but not as densely packed in there as in chia seeds. Mix them with yogurt and eat it with a spoon. Soak em in water and drink em before bed. If you have the grit, just eat a spoonful.

Your days of trying to find vitamins and minerals from a diverse and colorful host of sources are over, my friend. Eat chia seeds today.

Juicing

I had a coworker who used to go out in the afternoon and purchase an $11 cold pressed juice from a juice stand/hemp clothing store down the street. There are plenty of awful things to unpack in that last sentence, but let’s just focus on the juice.

I’m not really here to debate what’s healthy or what’s not–as I type this I’m currently eating chicken fingers that I plan on washing down with a healthy serving of cheese. There are plenty of argument for the usefulness of juice, like actually incorporating fruits and vegetables into your diet. And also plenty against, like whether or not juicing kills the nutrients altogether. There’s even machines that’ll do it for you but most have turned out to be either a hoax or a ripoff; sometimes both.

The point of all of this is to consider what kind of value you want to put on the nutrients you consume. If you want to blow $12 on a single serving of juice, be my guest. But currently at my local grocery store I can buy a 5 pound bag of apples, two pounds of bananas, three pounds of oranges, and a bag of spinach for $12. That’s gotta be good for like three months of vitamins and minerals, right?

But hey, the San Antonio Spurs juice. So that’s gotta be worth something?

Going gluten free

There’s been a lot said about this one (see below) and I don’t really have anything insightful to say but I’ll give it a shot:

Most people I know that are “gluten free” don’t have any sort of disorder or disease that lead them to their current lifestyle choice, so that’s pretty obnoxious?

As a runner, it’s probably fairly difficult to endure things like team spaghetti dinners, or meals at the Olive Garden (shoutout to the Unlimited Pasta Pass), so I guess nice job on being able to make that sacrifice?

In short: gluten (a protein that helps its pals, known as the Wheat Family, maintain its shape) seems fine and you shouldn’t be a wuss and just go ahead and eat it unless you have something like Celiac Disease or Hashimoto, in which case I’d beg your teammates and coaches to do every pre-race meal at PF Chang’s, who has a delightful gluten free menu.

Sugar Free

Here’s one that I’m on board with.

A few months ago, ESPN came out with an article detailing the NBA’s obsession with peanut butter and jelly. The buried lede in that story was how Dwight Howard used to eat the equivalent of 24 full sized candy bars a day. A team dietician finally forced him to kick the habit–probably something not too unlike the scene in Heavyweights where the kids have their cabins shaken down for candy–which resulted in the mysterious tingling in his limbs to disappear, as well as a noticeable uptick in his production on the court.

Runners need a healthy balance of sugar in their diet, after all, that’s the first thing our muscles like to burn for energy, but there are better places to get it than mainlining a bunch of skittles. Perhaps the aforementioned juice isn’t so bad.

Either that or just go ahead and eat gluten like I already told you to do.

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