Runners Get Weight Loss Wrong (Recipe: Kyle’s Famous Ribs)

I read an article that focuses on the nutritional demands of runners and how runners can lose and/or maintain weight safely.  Most research shifts away from the arcane view of the “eat-less-get-lighter-run-faster” model that has been preached for decades.

Dr. Dan Benardot, one of the foremost experts in the world of sports nutrition, a professor of nutrition and the director of the Laboratory for Elite Athlete Performance at Georgia State University, promotes a strategy of eating where your caloric intake is evenly distributed throughout the day, as opposed to the model made popular by many fitness magazines of calories consumed versus calories burned. According to Benardot, the common American diet of little to no breakfast, a large mid-day meal and a monstrous evening supper doesn’t serve competitive athletes or the general public well.

Why?  Well, here’s your answer.

1. Cortisol. Released by the adrenal glands, cortisol is released in response to fear or stress. Linked to heart disease and increased cholesterol levels, cortisol is also released during prolonged periods without caloric intake, which can place stress on the body. One of the direct effects of these elevated levels of cortisol is the breaking down of bone and lean muscle mass. “The body’s reaction to an inadequate caloric intake,” says Benardot, “is to lower the tissue that needs calories the most, which is lean mass.” In short, long periods without any caloric intake will increase the body’s fat mass and lower lean muscle mass. It’s worth noting that this is one of the reasons individuals with eating disorders appear soft rather than lean.

2. Hyperinsulinemia. One of the detrimental effects of the “big meals infrequently” paradigm is excessive levels of insulin in the bloodstream. The larger the caloric load consumed, the more insulin created. Higher than normal insulin levels in the bloodstream forces fat into the cells.

3. Even Distribution. As a start to proper caloric distribution, Benardot suggests simply splitting the meals you already eat into 5 to 6 chunks throughout the day rather than mountains of food 1 to 2 times daily. “Whatever you normally have for breakfast, have half early in the morning then half mid-morning,” he suggests. “Do the same with both lunch and dinner.”

4. Ghrelin and Skipping Meals. Ghrelin is a hunger-stimulating peptide that controls, in large part, our body’s hunger level. While skipping meals has become a Western ritual often practiced under the false notion that this will reduce caloric intake healthfully, the overwhelming research has shown that skipping meals wreaks havoc on Ghrelin levels, causing the opposite effect. “People who skip or delay meals tend to take in more calories,” says Benardot. This is even more evidence for continued and evenly distributed eating.

Food for Thought:  Walnuts.  New research shows that walnuts contain protective antioxidant phenols that can markedly improve blood-vessel function just hours after eating a few ounces.  Other nuts, such as almonds, are also heart-healthy.  Have one ounce of walnuts (14 halves) or other nuts each day.

Quote of the Day:

“Strength doesn’t come from what you can do.  It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.” -Rikki Rogers

So, the weekend I went to Country Jam up in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Kyle and Tanisha invited me over for dinner–Kyle’s famous BBQ.  Alas, I was out of town so I couldn’t make it.  BUT they saved some for me to try when I returned.  DELICIOUS.  This is Kyle’s recipe in his own words.  (And, no, I did not eat the ribs with a fork.)

IMG_5646 Kyle's Famous Ribs

Kyle’s Famous Ribs

I usually get my ribs from the Farmer’s Market. I’ll buy four racks of ribs. They are full ribs, St. Louis style not baby back. I like to marinate the ribs over night in Swamp Dawg sauce. Then, before putting them into the smoker, I sprinkle a generous helping of Bone Suckin’ Rib Rub & Seasoning on them. (You can make your own rib rub, but there are a plethora of great rubs out there and who really has the time to mess around with developing their own rub?) Sprinkling the ribs with the rib rub helps lock the sauce and moisture into the meat. Then they go into the smoker.

I know people who like to smoke their ribs on low for several hours. Some people have fancy smokers, other have cheap electric smokers. Everyone has their preference. My smoker is an Orion charcoal cooker/smoker. It cooks via convection style (i.e. super heated air). Because it cooks via convection, it cooks really fast. I can cook up to six full racks of ribs in seventy minutes. I don’t want to wait all day cook, monitor the heat of my smoker, etc. When I’m ready to cook, I fire up the coals, hang my ribs in the smoker, put a handful of wet wood chips on the inside of the smoker, and in seventy minutes, I’m eating.

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