Nutrition is a vital part of our performance and recovery, but you also have to consider how it affects your body in other areas not related to training, as well. Though looking at foods as ‘bad’ or ‘good’ can be problematic, if you are experiencing certain issues—such as lack of sleep or poor digestion—there are some foods you can remove from your diet to help.
Brandice Lardner, nutrition coach at Grace Filled Plate, discusses what foods may be causing runners some issues and just how long you should remove them from your diet.
If you’re dealing with blemishes, take a break from dairy for one month.
Runners do a lot to protect their skin—sunscreen during every run is a must—and skin issues can lead to greater issues. It is important to always check your skin for unusual blemishes, moles and more as they can be a sign of skin cancer. As you treat your skin, there is more you can do besides topical treatments and face wash.
“While experts disagree about the ties between dairy and acne, acne sufferers frequently report an improvement in skin condition after removing dairy from their diets,” admits Lardner. “Dairy is believed to cause acne due to the hormonal components in milk. Try removing dairy from your diet for 30 days and see if you notice an improvement.”
If you have poor digestion and are bloated, take a break from FODMAPs for six weeks.
As Larnder explains, FODMAPs, which stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, and Mono-saccharides And Polyols, are fermentable carbohydrates that are found in foods and can cause digestive issues.
“By avoiding FODMAPs for six weeks you can determine if these foods are problematic for you,” she notes. “For many, they can re-introduce some of all FODMAPs back into their diet in limited quantities without a recurrence of symptoms.”
Lardner adds that many FODMAP foods are quite ‘healthy but because they are complex they may cause symptoms during digestion. Some of these foods include garlic, onions, mushrooms, apples, sausages, bran cereals and more.
If sleep is poor, take a break from caffeine for one week.
Sleep is vital to your performance and recovery and a lack of it can affect your daily life, as well. Skipping your coffee in the morning can actually help you sleep better at night.
“While caffeine has been to improve athletic performance when taken prior to a workout, caffeine can affect sleep quality for many individuals,” explains Lardner. “Genetically, we each metabolize caffeine at varying rates. If you have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep, try removing caffeine from your diet for one week and monitor if your sleep quality improves.”
If sugar cravings are causing you to eat more sugar, take a break from sugar for three weeks.
This one seems like a doozy, I know. However, sugar has addictive properties and can leave you wanting more and more of it.
“Over time, our taste preferences become wired to prefer more sweet foods than aligns with our health and fitness goals,” notes Lardner. “By taking a break from sugary foods like candy, cakes, cookies and soda, you give your taste buds a chance to recalibrate so that you can to enjoy the natural sweetness found in nutrient-dense foods such as fruits and vegetables.”
Not convinced? There’s more. A study in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association found that overweight children and adults who gave up sugar for just nine days significantly saw increased metabolic function. So even if you aren’t overweight, taking time off from sugar can help you add more foods into your diet that your body can properly metabolize.
If performance or fat loss has stalled, take a break from alcohol for one month.
You may have heard the recommendation that many doctors make calling for a daily glass a red wine, however, Lardner reminds us that consuming alcohol on a regular basis can have a negative effect on your health and weight loss efforts.
“When you drink alcohol, those calories are burned preferentially by the body, meaning your body stops burning fat (meaning, your body stops burning stored fat and glycogen),” she explains. “Also, when we consume an alcoholic drink, this drink is often in addition to our daily calorie intake. These are extra calories that you would not have consumed otherwise and it can have a negative effect on your body weight.”
Lardner recommends taking a ‘dry month’ and eliminating alcohol to see if you being to see progress again. Once that month is over, limiting how much you drink can help keep that momentum up.