Foodtrainer Lauren Slayton to the Rescue!
Many runners are looking to lose weight as part of their training program – myself included. Although one would think the miles would evaporate pounds, intense training and long-distance running brings with it a host of diet difficulties including a grumbling stomach and the little evil voice in the back of your head whispering, “Chocolate is okay…you ran for three hours earlier”.
Lauren Slayton, MS, RD, owns Foodtrainers, a company that aids clients who want to change their eating lifestyles. Foodtrainers does not force clients to fit into a mold; rather the company works to fit into a client’s already-complex lifestyle. I spoke with Lauren, asking her to provide some tips for weight loss while training for any intense race.
“There is a difference between eating healthy and losing weight”
This is the key statement that struck me as Lauren explained some sneak attack offenders. Carbohydrate-rich foods such as fruits and whole-wheat bread are healthy options but might count against someone aiming to shed pounds. According to Lauren, although fruit is always a healthy, nutritious choice, too much of it can hold you back because fruit contains pure sugar. She suggested sticking at two servings of fruit a day if aiming to lose weight.
Subbing in the “right” foods can sometimes become an evolutionary process. Maybe you’re trying to drop pounds but you have a candy addiction. If you can make the switch to mangos as that sugar fix, this is moving in a healthier direction. Eventually, the body might plateau and respond that too much fruit is preventing further weight loss. At this point, you can try removing certain foods entirely for a week. By experimenting like this, you can figure out which foods cause stagnation.
When it comes to the carbs, what is the right amount? Lauren explained that some people do well with one meal grain free, but to start with two, feels hard. “If it feels diet-y and severe – put it on hold.” She advised, “Try going grain-free for one day. Does it sound like a fun challenge or the end of world?”
Worried about the carbohydrate value of vegetables?
“You’re not going to not lose weight from eating too many veggies. If you can choose a carrot over a bagel – eat as many carrots as you want!”
Ideal Pre/Post Workout Fuel:
When planning for a big Saturday run, Lauren suggested eating carbs beforehand, but not necessarily partaking in “carb-loading”. She advised using the prior Thursday and Friday as carb and hydration days. Suggested choices include one to two servings of: baked potato, brown rice, whole grains, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, pasta – just not as the main attraction of the meal.
“We shouldn’t be carb-phobic, but the typical notion of “carbing up” is a mistake as well.” Instead of counting grams of carbohydrate at each meal, an easier guideline is planning for at least one grain free meal per day.
“If you’re like a lot of people and look forward to something filling, then maybe your lunch is a protein or an omelet.” It might take some experimenting, but many protein-rich foods are filling and will tide you over without wolfing down that loaf of bread as an appetizer.
After the workout, Lauren stressed that you should eat as soon as possible – within 30 minutes of completing exercise.
“Exercise lowers your blood sugar. Waiting [too long] to eat further drops your blood sugar. When you come home, shower, then fuel, you spend the whole day making up for that low blood sugar. You keep eating and eating to make up for it.”
Not what someone trying to lose weight wants! A few suggestions: an energy bar (not the ones packed with sugar), Justin’s Nut Butter (peanut butter squeeze packets), an apple, peach, banana or a smoothie. As long as the snack is protein heavy to replenish muscles, and to flush out lactic acid, the body will feel fueled and will keep working at maximum capacity.
“The key is – there’s a short window to replenish before you feel your blood sugar plummet.”
“Whatever we eat should hold us for a few hours,” said Lauren on the topic of snacking between meals, “There should be one pit stop between meals, not munching.”
Some of Lauren’s clients are on the go from 5 a.m. on – and it is necessary for people like this to survive on four meals, especially if they are also exercising intensely.
A suggested calorie range would be under 200 per snack. It should include a mix of protein and carbohydrate – any sort of fruits/nut combination is a healthy option. Pistachios and plum, walnut/kiwi, almonds and strawberries are some exotic fruit/nut pairs that Lauren suggests. Salty snacks for runners like soy chips or edamame, in humid weather especially, are great options. Keeping containers of nuts, seeds, and fruits available is another tip.
“Our cravings are not necessarily right. If our body craves what it actually needs, it would have vegetable cravings.”
If you find yourself ravenously pounding back a bag of cookies, decide – are you emotionally eating or are you doing it out of physiological hunger?
Lauren’s tip when all you want to do is curl up with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s is to pick something like chicken, tofu, or salmon and ask yourself, would I eat that right now?
Set your watch for 15 minutes. If you can talk yourself out of it during that time, the intensity of the craving will pass.
“When we are truly hungry, we’ll want to eat real food. We’ll always want to eat dark chocolate, watermelon, and pistachio nuts.” She suggested using this test as a guide to help you eat “real” food before sinking into the sweet stuff. This can help avoid temptation completely, or at least cause you to divulge in a smaller serving size.
“A lot of people have a degree of emotional eating; it’s impulse driven.” said Lauren, “Throwing a lot of exercise in…stimulates that.”
Twitter – Tweet It Don’t Eat It – #TIDEI
Foodtrainers uses the Twitter handle @Foodtrainers and has created an interactive support for clients who are experiencing a moment of weakness.
Twitter users can type #TIDEI into their Tweets, which is a conversation monitored by @Foodtrainers. TIDE stands for Tweet It, Don’t Eat It. Anyone can Tweet this, and anyone can search Twitter for #TIDEI to give support, get support or just see some of the creative food or drinks others are passing up. Users who #TIDEI have the accountability of calling themselves out. Foodtrainers will be able to see it, tweet the person back and offer some encouraging words. Try it, you may find it fun and tweet your friends about it.
Lauren Slayton MS RD received her undergraduate degree from Tulane University where she graduated cum laude with honors in Sociology. She completed her Masters degree in Clinical Nutrition at New York University. Prior to opening Foodtrainers, Lauren worked at St Luke’s-Roosevelt obesity research unit and was a nutritionist at Equinox fitness clubs. These positions provided Lauren both clinical and counseling experience and in the Fall of 2001 Lauren opened Foodtrainers. Lauren has specialized in both weight management and sports nutrition since that time.
Lauren conducts frequent nutrition lectures and teleconferences on topics ranging from “Running and Weight” to “Organics 101”. Lauren has written for and been quoted in articles for many websites, magazines and television programs including: Allure, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Cooking Light, Harper’s Bazaar, Hamptons, Self, Fitness, WebMD, The New York Post, John Stewart’s Daily Show, ABC’s Eyewitness News, The Early Show, Fox News, Mike and Juliet and Martha Stewart.
Lauren is an avid runner, tennis player and skier. Her favorite fruits are blackberries and pears, favorite vegetable (so hard to pick! ) is beets and favorite splurge is brie. Lauren lives in New York City with her husband Marc and sons Myles and Weston.