RAISINS PACK ENERGY
Participants in a study by the University
of California at Davis ran for 80 minutes
and then completed a 5-K time trial while
consuming water, or water and carb-based
chews, or water and raisins. Researchers
assumed the fiber in raisins might cause
stomach distress. But runners who had
raisins ran equally well as those who had
energy chews—and both groups ran
faster than those who only drank water.
ACTION PLAN During long runs, have
1/4 cup of raisins, which supplies 33 grams
of carbs, with water every hour you run.
run faster, stay healthy, and recover better using the
latest research on your favorite foods and drinks
CAFFEINE PILLS WORK
Australian scientists gave cyclists Red
Bull (which contains caffeine) or caffeine
pills before an hour ride. Both groups
rode faster than a no-caffeine group. But
the Red Bull group did not perform
better than the caffeine pill group. This
suggests that while caffeine improves
athletic performance, other supposedly
energizing compounds (like taurine,
guarana, and vitamin B12) in energy
drinks do not have an effect.
ACTION PLAN To boost endurance
and speed, take 100 to 200 milligrams of
caffeine 30 to 45 minutes before a run.
SPINACH BOOSTS STRENGTH
Turns out Popeye was on to something.
Spinach contains nitrates, compounds
that past research shows can improve
running performance by delivering more
oxygen and nutrients to muscles. In a new
study from the National Council of Research in Italy, scientists gave participants
two cups of nitrate-rich spinach juice or
a placebo for six days. The spinach juice
group performed better on a series of
strength tests and reported less fatigue.
ACTION PLAN Eat spinach—or drink the
juice—regularly. If the juice’s potent flavor
is too strong, try blending it in smoothies.
TART CHERRIES IMPROVE SLEEP
Tart cherry juice is rich in melatonin, a
phytonutrient that can improve sleep
(and you need quality sleep to keep your
immune system strong and speed recovery postrun). In a study at Northumbria
University in the United Kingdom, subjects drank an ounce of tart cherry juice
twice a day for a week. Those who drank
the juice fell asleep faster, slept longer,
and reported feeling more rested than
those who had a placebo.
ACTION PLAN add tart cherry juice
to sparkling water, stir the dried fruit into
oatmeal, or toss it in your trail mix.
of caffeine =
1 eight-ounce cup of Starbucks coffee
2 Clif Shot Double Expresso Turbo Energy Gels
YEAST WARDS OFF COLDS
Hard exercise lowers your immunity, but
beta glucan (a carb in baker’s yeast) may
help. Runners in the 2011 Austin Marathon who took a beta glucan supplement
for four weeks were sick fewer days postrace than a placebo group. Researchers
from Western Kentucky University think
it stimulates immune cells in mucous
layers, creating a barrier against bugs.
ACTION PLAN If you get sick during
hard training, take a daily 250-milligram
baker’s yeast beta glucan supplement.
Eating oats and mushrooms (two sources of
less potent beta glucan) may also help.
4 eight-ounce cups of black tea
Illustration by ryan snook