Wilfredo Benitez, MScN, M.Ed.: Fueling Tough Training Blocks

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About this episode:
In this week’s episode, Hillary sits down for a second interview with performance nutritionist Will Benitez to talk about how to optimize your nutrition during tough training blocks.

Guest Bio – Wilfredo Benitez, MScN, M.Ed.:
Wilfredo (Will) Benitez is a performance nutritionist located in Portland, Oregon, USA and is the owner of his nutrition coaching practice On Pace Wellness, LLC. Will believes that nutritional optimization is a process that involves sustainable behavioral changes and practices accordingly. Will works primarily with athletes but also with those who enjoy or want to enjoy an active lifestyle, helping them to optimize their nutrition to elevate performance and health. As a performance nutritionist, a certified running coach, and an athlete himself, Will understands the athlete’s mindset, what it’s like to pursue athletic goals, and how to balance the pursuit of those goals with other responsibilities. He is passionate about helping his clients strike the necessary balance to make the nutrition coaching process result in sustained nutrition habits that are effective for the client’s goals.

Will earned his Masters Degree in Nutrition Science in 2017. He lives in Portland with his wife, Valentina, who is a naturopathic physician, and their dog and two cats.

Read More About Wilfredo Benitez:

https://www.onpacewellness.com/

https://twitter.com/WillBenitez21

https://www.instagram.com/onpacewellness/

Episode Highlights:

  • Matching your nutrition to your training levels
  • Dialing in pre-workout and post-workout nutrition
  • The effects of alcohol on your performance

Listen to the episode on Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcherGoogle Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform

 


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Episode Transcription:

Hillary Allen:

Hey guys and welcome to the TrainRight Podcast. Today we have a repeat guest, Will Benitez. Hey, how are you doing today?

Wilfredo Benitez:

I’m doing well, Hillary. How are you?

Hillary Allen:

I’m good. Yes. Last time … Well so Will, so you’re a nutritionist. On Pace Wellness is your nutrition company.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Yeah.

Hillary Allen:

Well performance nutritionist, sports nutritionist. But I think that your advice would be applicable for anyone. The last episode I encouraged listeners to go back and listen to this one.

Hillary Allen:

It was super awesome talking about kind of what nutrition looks like in periods of rest, or injury, or kind of off season maintenance.

Hillary Allen:

But I wanted to switch gears a little bit and talk about what training looks like and wealth. What nutrition looks like when training is super hard and you’re preparing for those goal races, you’re trying to get that every last drop out of yourself. So yeah, Will, what do you think about this?

Wilfredo Benitez:

Yeah. Obviously when we’re talking about training and talk about switching gears, yeah you’re right. Last episode was about just things are calm, right? What do you when the body is calming down from all the training and whether it’s forced to calm down or you’re intentionally calming down.

Wilfredo Benitez:

And now here we are talking about when training is back to normal or when you’re in the tip top shape and getting ready for that key event, what does your nutrition look like at that point. It’s obviously very different.

Wilfredo Benitez:

But yeah. So, I’m excited to talk about pre-workout and post-workout nutrition. I also Hillary, if I get the green light from you, wanted to throw in maybe towards the end there tips around alcohol consumption and overall water or hydration.

Hillary Allen:

Yeah, I think that’s important. Obviously I drink water, everyone should drink water. [inaudible 00:02:23] into around our culture of running and especially ultra running.

Hillary Allen:

The post race beer and barbecue. And half of the troll runs end in a pub or something like this. So, I think yeah it’s a really important topic to talk about.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Yeah, okay great. I got the green light.

Hillary Allen:

I guess I’ll let you do that. Yeah, you got it. But yeah. Okay. So, then how do you do that? I guess we can start by talking about … So, when you’re in a good, when you’re ramping up the miles, ramping up the high intensity workouts, how should your nutrition change and what are some recommendations that you have for athletes if they’re in the full swing of training?

Wilfredo Benitez:

Sure, sure. Obviously if you’re getting up there in the mileage, getting up there in maybe the intensity, your nutrition needs to match that, right? So, your nutrition should be kind of going along with the progress of your training.

Wilfredo Benitez:

When you’re at that point where volume and/or intensity is getting up there, then your nutrition needs to be also getting up there, right? So, yes I’m talking about caloric intake, but also just the quality of your nutrition.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, sticking with calories for a second, I hesitate to throw a number out there because I don’t know who is listening, right? It very much depends on the person whether their type of activity, what that level of intensity or volume looks like for them, their size, right, their height, their weight. It just depends on so much what that number of calorie increase looks like.

Wilfredo Benitez:

But regardless, there should be an increase. The body is expending so much more energy to get them through this tougher block of training that they need to match that with energy input.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, when I talk about energy input I mean calories, right? Calorie is just energy. So, if you’re demanding more of your body, therefore you’re outputting more energy for your workouts, for your other maybe recovery exercises that you’re doing, then your input needs to match that in order to properly recover from that training, properly refuel for the next workout, and just overall function, right?

Wilfredo Benitez:

The body just needs to be able to function normally. So, if you are kind of in this state where you are doing all this output, right, all this training, extra training, and not getting in enough calories, then already you’re not optimizing recovery because you’re not getting the energy you need for recovery, you are …

Wilfredo Benitez:

If it goes on, if it persists, you are putting yourself more an injury risk. So, obviously no runner wants that. Then also you’re suppressing your immune system. So, if your body doesn’t have the energy it needs to just function normally, your immune system gets suppressed.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Already post-workout, post-training we are somewhat immune suppressed for a little bit of time. So, we’re more susceptible to getting sick and bacteria coming into our system and us not being able to fight it off.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, if we couple that with not getting enough calories or energy back into the system, then we just become even more immune suppressed and even more susceptible to getting sick and getting those colds that we don’t want.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, often I work with endurance athletes and whether it’s like just before the time of marathon event or a half marathon or something like that, they get sick. It’s like it’s very common for them to get sick.

Wilfredo Benitez:

What I think it is, is that that’s kind of our own taper period and so a lot of runners want to kind of back off of calories because they might not be doing as much and maybe they just did it too much, right?

Wilfredo Benitez:

Maybe they just backed off the calories. They reduced the calories too much and now they’re kind of immune suppressed and very susceptible to those colds. It’s a very common trend, I think, with endurance runners.

Hillary Allen:

Yeah. I’ve noticed that too with the athletes that I coach it’s like when they’re tapering that down, it’s like right before the marathon, or the event they can be susceptible to that. I did have a question though.

Hillary Allen:

Aside from getting OCD about the amount of if we’re dealing with a strict number like calories getting in, how can you pick up, I’m just a big proponent of listening to your body and listening to the cues that your body is telling you. What’s something that athletes could use to pick up on something if they’re not actually optimizing their recovery post-workout? Like they need to make some changes to their nutrition?

Wilfredo Benitez:

Yeah, sure. Hillary I’m right there with you. I’m a big proponent of that too. It really helps one to not over eat or to not under eat. But here’s the thing, as long as they are good, I don’t mean good like they’ve really worked at the skill good, but some people really struggle with listening to their body cues and whether that is that their body isn’t really, I don’t want to say good again. But the body is really not giving them those cues. That’s possible, right?

Hillary Allen:

Yeah.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, if you go so long kind of without listening to the body or maybe your nutrition or just your lifestyle is so busy and stressed that your body isn’t really set up for success in terms of giving you proper hunger cues and satiation cues, then that’s a little bit tricky for you, right?

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, you can get back to that optimal area to be in but it might take some work. So, some people can be, like you maybe Hillary can be really good at just listening to the hunger cues or listening to when your body is telling you that you’re full, but other people need to get back to that point, right?

Wilfredo Benitez:

Because I think that at some point we were there, right? Kids often are there. They eat because their body is growing but they tend to not overeat unless they’re being fueled or getting the wrong input from their parents or caretakers or something like that. But we lose it, right? We lose that skill somewhere along the way.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, I do think we can get back there. But it involves certain things like slowing down, right? Eating slowly. Not going after seconds so quickly, maybe give your body 10 to 20 minutes to really realize that you just consumed food and let you or let it tell you if it needs more food, and then going for seconds maybe, right? And then controlling that portion size a little bit.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, there are ways to kind of get back to that more intuitive or mindful eating place. But in addition to that, I think this is going to your question directly, is what else can runners do to really check in there?

Wilfredo Benitez:

I think there’s a few areas that you as a runner can kind of think about when you’re in this mode. One is, think about if you experience that kind of ravenous hunger around post-workout or the day after a hard workout or a key event or a hard training event.

Wilfredo Benitez:

It’s pretty common for people to on the day after a hard training session or double day or something like that, for people’s metabolisms to just be really quick, right? People just constantly hungry. Listen to that, right, because not only is it telling you, okay yeah, you might need more calories that day because your body is clearly in this hyper recovery state.

Wilfredo Benitez:

But what does that tell you about the day before? Right? Maybe you didn’t eat enough or maybe you didn’t eat enough of certain nutrients the day before where your body is kind of over signaling, it’s overactive that next day because yes it’s common but it doesn’t have to be normal, right?

Wilfredo Benitez:

What we want to do is actually have you refueling properly on that day of that hard workout or double day or whatever it is so that the next day is kind of more normal day and not this super ravenous, eating all the time kind of day.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Some of the things that you could pay attention to are thirst and your urination output. So, if you find yourself either really thirsty or you’re not peeing enough, that can tell you a little bit more about whether you’re getting in the right amount of calories or right amount of food and quality of food, right? Because, food is also hydrating.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, it’s not just from water intake that we get hydration, but we also get it from the foods that we eat especially plant foods, right, vegetables and fruits are especially hydrating.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, if you’re drinking enough water or you’re really not drinking in that much water where you shouldn’t be having thirst issues or you shouldn’t be not peeing as regularly as you are, then maybe it’s food, right? Maybe the quality of your food, maybe the quality or the quantity, sorry, of your plant-based foods isn’t as high as it normally is or should be.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, we can think about getting your fruit and vegetable intake back up as a result of that cue, right? But again it’s paying attention to what your body is actually telling you. That’s like a skill in it of itself and something that we should be making time for as much as possible because when we listen to what the body is trying to communicate to us, and kind of think critically about what we’re noticing, we can often either ask the right questions or just kind of work at trying to answer those questions or what the body is trying to tell us.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Oftentimes, we’ll find some kind of solution there. But it really starts with that listening piece.

Hillary Allen:

Yeah. I like that, and you’re right, it is something that we have to practice. I think sometimes it’s like yeah, it’s hard sometimes during my high training points, it’s like oh, I feel like I’m hungry all the time.

Hillary Allen:

So, yeah it’s good to kind of reconnect with that supplement, like okay, let’s take a minute. But yeah, thanks for answering that question.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Yeah.

Hillary Allen:

Going back to kind of what you were saying about yeah did you finish everything about the recovery portion of how to fuel after these big workouts?

Wilfredo Benitez:

No. I might have even missed that piece. I don’t think I even got started in how to refuel after these big workouts.

Hillary Allen:

I don’t really think so. So let’s go back to that.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Yeah, okay. Essentially now we’re talking about recovery, right? We’re talking about recovering after these hard sessions. So yeah, I might have just talked on listening to your body, how do you know if you’re doing it. But here’s the how to do it in a way or what to do exactly.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, post-workout, post-training recovery there’s a lot to it, right? There’s a lot out there from an industry perspective, right? There’s a lot of companies and products out there that just market, right, to that post-workout.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, you’re talking about protein powders, their collagen, or other kind of endurance products that are really speaking to post-workout recovery.

Wilfredo Benitez:

There’s something to some of those products, but what we want to make sure that we’re doing right off the bat is make sure that our nutrition timing is proper, right? So, I’ll get to the products and kind of what I think about some of those in a second.

Wilfredo Benitez:

But if the one thing that we can do, if we’re eating let’s say a meal or a snack, let’s make sure that we are doing it in the proper timing after the training session is over.

Wilfredo Benitez:

I think if there’s one key way to not ensure necessarily, but help with post-workout recovery, it’s getting some amount of calories and hopefully they’re quality calories after your workout, right?

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, what I’m talking about is ideally within 30 minutes of a workout, if it’s within one hour that’s okay, right? But if you can get it in within 30 minutes, then that’s probably best.

Wilfredo Benitez:

I know some people can’t really tolerate foods right after a hard session or a hard training day and they might need that extra bit of time.

Wilfredo Benitez:

But hopefully within an hour those people are okay with consuming some kind of caloric intake. So, I do like within 30 minutes though. I think the body is primed, the muscles are primed to kind of uptake that glucose from the carbohydrates of the foods that you should be eating within that amount of time, right, within that hour and it’s even better within that 30 minutes.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, let’s take advantage of that, right? Let’s take advantage of the body’s natural response to post-workout where it wants to kind of bring back the glucose and bring back the nutrients that it needs to get recovery going already.

Wilfredo Benitez:

After about an hour research has shown that that window kind of comes down a bit and the body slows down that uptake. But it comes back, it kind of cycles again and about two to three, some research says four hours after training, that kind of second window of recovery opportunity opens up again.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, you want to make sure that’s typically maybe that next mealtime, right? So, within the hour it might just be a good healthy snack. Maybe it’s breakfast for some people and then that three to four hours after is maybe that next meal, right?

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, again making sure that that next meal or next snack, whatever it is at that time for you, is also quality food, right? That means you’re not going after the greasy pizza, the greasy burgers in that three to four hour window, because that might not be giving your body the best quality clean food that it wants to recover during that second window, right?

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, there’s all this nutrition timing. I know Hillary in our last episode we talked about, I think it was strategically placed carbs or something like that. In that same light, in that same vein, it’s like making sure that we are being strategic with the timing of our overall nutrition not just necessarily our carbs, although that is definitely a big part of this.

Wilfredo Benitez:

But you’re really optimizing that kind of that window or windows of recovery post-workout. So, again within an hour if you can do it within 30 minutes and then also making sure that following meal anywhere from two to four hours it really depends on the person, you’re eating as clean and as wholesome as possible because your body is using those nutrients.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, if you’re for example, and we’ll talk about alcohol maybe later, but if you’re an evening person, maybe you workout in the evenings maybe after work, that means that maybe you are foregoing the alcohol, whatever it is.

Wilfredo Benitez:

If it’s a beer, wine, you name it, you may be foregoing that because no matter what you’re working out in the evening I imagine within four hours you’re probably going to be getting to bed and that means that you’re going to be having the alcohol consumption within that timeframe and I really don’t think that that’s going to be the best bet for you in terms of optimizing your recovery.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, as tempting as that cold beer might be for you, maybe save it for the days where you don’t work out in the evening and maybe that’s just the weekends for you. But again, if you’re trying to optimize recovery, that might just be a decision that you have to make and it’s really up to you obviously.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, there’s nutrition timing, right? I think I just kind of made that very clear. But then there’s also specific nutrients, right? So, obviously every three macronutrients, carbs, protein, and fats.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Within post-workout windows we want to be making sure that we’re getting enough carbohydrate and protein. Obviously most people know about protein, right? Again, the industry, sports nutrition industry, the protein powder industry, they’ve made it very clear that protein is very, very important.

Wilfredo Benitez:

I think they’ve made it maybe over clear or maybe they’re pushing protein a little bit too hard because I actually think that we should be doing more carbs, right?

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, if you’ve heard of the 4:1 ratio with regards to carbohydrate to protein recovery, that’s four grams of carbohydrates per one gram of protein. So, that’s making sure that you are getting enough carbohydrates in your post-workout nutrition not just focusing on protein powder, right?

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, if you’re just mixing protein powder with water calling it a day, if you have no carbs there, then you are not giving your muscles the recovery that it really wants and giving your body the refuel that it really needs to actually have the muscle fully recover for the next day’s training session.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, you don’t ignore the carbohydrates, right? And people, some research actually says that there is kind of a synthesis that happens between or when carbohydrates and protein are consumed together, which actually allows for both to be synthesized or processed more optimally.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, I think there’s something to that too, is just making sure you’re not consuming one over the other because if you think about whole foods you don’t get that, right? You don’t get food rarely unless you’re talking about meat. But you rarely get a food that doesn’t have carbohydrates and protein, right? It has some degree of both.

Wilfredo Benitez:

However, when we are talking about protein powders, it’s synthetic, right? We’ve manufactured that. And so there are products out there that have zero carbohydrates and that’s just not natural.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, the body is probably not set up to only consume protein powders and zero carbohydrates for a reason, right, because we want both together.

Hillary Allen:

Yeah.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, it really is, I think, the nutrition timing piece is really important. But then again also making sure that you are getting carbohydrates in your post-workout nutrition.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Then I didn’t talk about fat. The reason is because we want to keep fat minimal during those windows of recovery. Fat slows down the uptake of carbs, right? So, if you think about blood sugar, if you just eat a white potato or a bag of pretzels or something that’s also just really carbohydrate rich and nothing else, then your blood sugar is going to spike, right? It’s going to increase.

Wilfredo Benitez:

That’s because you’re essentially just eating not 100% but well the majority of that food is just carbs. So, the body’s response to that is to just increase the blood sugar, obviously. However, when we throw in protein or fat in there, it slows down that process, right?

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, we kind of know that we’re trying to control blood sugar. But when we’re talking about post recovery, we actually don’t want that too much, right? We don’t want too much fat in there to slow down that uptake of the carbs because we actually want that to happen so that the muscles can get that in that prime time, right, in that post-workout window.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, that kind of, I think a common post-workout food is like a banana or some other kind of fruit and peanut butter, right? Or some kind of nut butter. It’s a very post-workout snack for people.

Wilfredo Benitez:

I won’t say don’t do it. I will say don’t have globes of peanut butter in your oatmeal or on your banana or whatever other kind of maybe your toast or something like that. If you had an avocado toast or something like that, maybe have half of the serving of avocado that you would normally have.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, if you were to down a whole avocado within 30 minutes of a workout, maybe consider backing off of that just a little bit and saving that other half for another time. Again, the reason is because it slows down the uptake of carbohydrates.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, here’s the thing, if you’re getting well above a normal amount of carbohydrate, you’re eating a big bowl of oatmeal, or two, three slices of toast with the avocado whatever it is, you’re getting enough carbs, you may have to worry about that just a little bit less, again, because you have more carbs, right? You have more carbs that you’re supplying so the body can uptake more.

Wilfredo Benitez:

But if we’re talking about one banana to two tablespoons of peanut butter, that ratio is a little bit off, right? So, we might want to still have that single banana and then maybe back it down to one tablespoon of peanut butter, right?

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, even if you’re not a banana and peanut butter person, apply that concept to whatever it is you are eating, right? Try to identify the carbs, try to identify the fats and try to think about, okay, am I doing this somewhat right there.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Again, because fat slows down that carbohydrate uptake and that’s probably not the very best for recovery. Again-

Hillary Allen:

So, I think it’s so soon, but I want to flip that over to the pre-workout side.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Yeah.

Hillary Allen:

Because I am a banana and peanut butter person, I love it even though I’m in France. I still find the nut butters. But is that something that would work for a pre-workout type thing?

Wilfredo Benitez:

Yeah, sure. Yes because it’s still happening, right? So, the fat is still slowing down. Your body is kind of metabolism or processing of those carbs. So, depending on what your goal is with your pre-workout nutrition, you may want to do that or you may not want to do that.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, that also comes down to time. So, if you are eating let’s say your pre-workout nutrition because some people may not be able to tolerate food too closely to their workout, some people’s pre-workout nutrition is two, three hours before their actual workout.

Wilfredo Benitez:

In that case, yes you want the protein, you want the fat because you want to slow down that carbohydrate uptake or processing because you want to have that long term energy so that two, three hours later when you’re finally going to work out, you still have some energy. You can actually get through that workout.

Wilfredo Benitez:

However, if you’re eating within an hour of your workout, maybe even within 30 minutes, then you might not want as much of that fat or protein and you might just want it to be just carbohydrate or just very much carbohydrate.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, maybe it’s like half a tablespoon of the peanut butter to the banana or maybe one tablespoon. Again, it depends on the person and maybe even what that workout is.

Wilfredo Benitez:

But yeah, you do want to think about that. You do want to think about okay how close to my workout am I eating, and am I getting the most of the carbs that I’m trying to fuel with?

Wilfredo Benitez:

And you might not be if you’re just overloading those carbs with fat, right? So, again that is something that you want to think about. But it’s hard for me to tell you an exact combination of foods because it really depends on, as I mentioned, what that workout is, what systems is the body using to get through that workout.

Wilfredo Benitez:

But also, you, right? You, not just your age and height and weight and all that kind of stuff, but also how well your body is at processing those kinds of foods. So, Hillary someone like you who might have been doing this kind of fueling, let’s say you were doing that pre-fueling, you were doing the banana and let’s say you were doing three tablespoons of peanut butter or some other kind of nut butter within let’s say 45 minutes of a workout, I would say most people probably can’t get away with that. However, you can train the body to adapt to certain fueling habits, right?

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, if you’ve been doing that for years, you might be able to … You can better tolerate that kind of nutrition fueling. However, someone just getting into running or getting into long distance running, maybe getting into endurance or mountain running, they may have to go through a period of getting their body used to fueling a certain way, right? As you probably had to do early on in your career.

Wilfredo Benitez:

You may not have realized it, but the body realized it, right? The body did have to adapt to your transition into that kind of training at some point. So, any kind of nutrition fueling I do think can be adapted to. However, it does take some time to do that. And if you’re not willing to do that, then just do things right off the bat, right?

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, maybe again work at minimizing the fat consumption too close before that workout session.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Then actually another thing, I have some clients, Hillary that, and you may have athletes that have dealt with this too where they just can’t seem to or they’ve having digestive issues during their runs.

Wilfredo Benitez:

I’ll learn, and maybe there’s some other things going on, whether it’s side stitches or just some other kind of issue that’s happening during their run. What I do is I take a look at their pre-workout nutrition and if I see that they’re either eating too close to their workout or they’re eating …

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, too close to a workout, that’s one. Second, is too close and too much, right, too much food close to the workout. Then third, I look at how much fat is in their pre-workout nutrition.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, I look at those three things to determine and we’ll play around with it, we’ll experiment on their runs to determine if any of those issues is actually causing the digestive issues or maybe they were kind of running out of energy way too soon for what they should be doing.

Wilfredo Benitez:

We’ll look at those three areas to kind of figure out what the cause is of the problem. Often, I find that yeah, too much fat pre-workout or maybe too much food pre-workout, too close to that workout session is actually not great.

Wilfredo Benitez:

It’s not giving the body enough time to digest and you’re going to experience some digestive issues during the run if you ask your body to do that.

Hillary Allen:

I remember actually one of the first times that I was running. This is in high school and it was actually my … I wasn’t a runner, I was more of a tennis player and they made us run for conditioning, but I was on the cross country team for fun, for training for tennis.

Hillary Allen:

I remember it was Friday we had our meets, our cross country meets. But Friday was also the time when everyone would go out to lunch off campus. I remember I was a cool kid, I was like, “Yeah, I’m going to go with the seniors. I’m going to go get big city burrito.” Which, is like this crazy thing in Fort Collins, Colorado. I hope that there’s someone listening from Fort Collins, Colorado because they’ve got to know this.

Hillary Allen:

We had this hefty burrito. Even, it was like, I think at 12:00 PM but then the cross country meet was at 3:30.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Oh gosh.

Hillary Allen:

At that time I had the worst side stitch of my life. I will never do that again.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Yeah, yeah, you learn quick when you do something like that.

Hillary Allen:

Yeah. So, it was either too much fat or too much food or probably both. But it was very uncomfortable.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Exactly, right? Or probably both. Yeah, because you’re talking about I don’t know if there was guacamole in there or maybe some sour cream or you obviously just the food cooked with oil and everything. So yeah, again probably both there.

Hillary Allen:

Yeah. That was not a wonderful experience. So yes, that matters. I think these are just like is there a ton of good tips that people can even analyze in their diets themselves.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Sure, yeah.

Hillary Allen:

And even if they need things obviously they can call you up and talk to you if they want to learn more about it. But I think these are, yeah, this is really good information to kind of do a trial run on your own nutrition to see how you’re measuring up.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Yeah, yeah, it does. I think it’s I hope that these steps are taken that way and I encourage the people who are listening to do this on their own, right?

Wilfredo Benitez:

Like actually maybe measure out their nut butter or think about how much avocado I’m actually using, download an app or get online and try to figure out okay how much fat is half an avocado. How much fat is in three tablespoons of peanut butter or in a tablespoon whatever amount that you’re using.

Wilfredo Benitez:

And just try to figure out, okay yeah, that actually is too much fat, let me reduce that and let’s see if that helps more. If so, hey, you’re on to something, keep that up and hopefully that’s your new normal at some point.

Wilfredo Benitez:

But I definitely encourage people to try these tips out on their own because I do think that there’s something to just educating yourself which is probably what people do in this podcast. Then actually going and doing it and experimenting rather than just kind of looking for answers and not doing anything about it, right?

Wilfredo Benitez:

Go and experiment and that’s where you learn the most, is when you actually apply these things to your own body, again because it’s different for everybody. So, that’s why I don’t want to … I’m hesitant to throw out exact numbers and things like that because it very much depends on each person.

Hillary Allen:

Yeah. I love that. I’m definitely I’m a proponent of science and we are our own, since we don’t do enough human studies and they’re hard enough to publish.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Right.

Hillary Allen:

Might as well be our own projects and try to figure out our own NM1.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Exactly, exactly. I love that.

Hillary Allen:

At least that’s my proponent. Sign your own health disclaimer there.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Sure, sure.

Hillary Allen:

Yeah. I’m sorry. I was just asking these questions because they’re interesting to me. I wasn’t sure if you had any more tips for pre-workout. Like getting the best out of your workout. I know it’s a combination of timing and ratio of your carbs to fats and that kind of stuff.

Hillary Allen:

From my experience as an athlete, yeah sure I can train myself, but it’s about learning but then also adaptability. I can also certainly kind of optimize my own.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Right, right. Yeah, as far as are there other tips, sure. We can get into the nitty-gritty because those are big tips, right? Like obvious ones but even ones that maybe people aren’t paying attention to or doing right.

Wilfredo Benitez:

But then you have other little tips for people that maybe if they are having digestive issues they can’t tolerate whole foods that close and so maybe they have to do more liquid nutrition.

Wilfredo Benitez:

All right? So maybe you can rely on kind of endurance supplement products which have carbohydrates in those for the most part, mixed into your water or something like that as your pre-workout nutrition, again, because you maybe can’t tolerate whole foods too close to your workout. So, there is that tip for some people who are having digestive issues.

Wilfredo Benitez:

There are the people who want to explore fasting. Doing workouts fasted, doing runs fasted. In which case you’re not having pre-workout nutrition, right? You are either if you’re doing your workouts or runs in the morning, then you’re not eating breakfast, right? You’re maybe having some water, maybe you’re having black coffee with nothing in it.

Wilfredo Benitez:

But for the most part you’re not having any calories before that workout. So, there’s tips around that or just making sure that you’re doing that properly because some people I’ve seen it, I’m trying to do my workouts fasted and have pretty much no calories coming in.

Wilfredo Benitez:

I asked them about their morning and they tell me about maybe the protein powder or the coffee with milk and sugar and I’m like, “Oh well, maybe that’s not actually doing it right.”

Wilfredo Benitez:

What else is there for pre-workout nutrition? Well hydration and we’re actually going to talk about that. I’ll get into that a little bit. But that’s a big one, right, is making sure that you are just properly hydrated before you get into your workout. That’s huge.

Hillary Allen:

Yeah.

Wilfredo Benitez:

You can do everything you want right food wise, but if you’re going into that workout dehydrated good luck, right, because you’re just not … That food is not going to compensate for making sure that you’re well hydrated for your workout.

Hillary Allen:

Yeah. I think that that even differs in at least I’ve noticed too and it’s something I have to stay on top of in more humid climates because I feel like I’ll just even if it’s cold, I’ll be sweating way more than I sweat normally in a drier climate like in Colorado.

Hillary Allen:

So, I’ll notice that. I’ve noticed that the different athletes that I coach if they’ve trained, if their first summer run or their first hot run, they’ll notice that their energy is just zapped and I’m just like my first question is, “Okay, well did you drink enough water?”

Wilfredo Benitez:

Right.

Hillary Allen:

Then they’d be like, “Oh, I didn’t know about that.” I was like, “Yeah, well it can …” I’ve learned that the hard way. The reason why I ask that question is because I’ve experienced it in my body.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Because you know, yeah.

Hillary Allen:

Why is my energy zapped? It’s because yeah your body is working really hard and basically you’re squeezing out all your water.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Think about this Hillary, when you’re thirsty, when your body is telling you, giving you that thirst cue, you are already I think the number is one to two percent or somewhere around there dehydrated.

Wilfredo Benitez:

That might sound really low, right? But that is actually very significant in terms of hydration. So, think about that when you’re thirsty. So some runners they go into their workout or their run. Maybe they didn’t drink any water, barely any water within let’s say an hour or even 20 minutes of their run, and I can talk about that in a little bit.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Then they run, right? They go on the run. Maybe they don’t drink. They have a bottle of water with them but maybe they’re not touching it for another half hour or maybe they don’t touch it till mile five or something like that. They’re trying to space out their water consumption.

Wilfredo Benitez:

They drink, let’s say that they get to mile five or they get to 30 minutes, it’s like, “Wow, I’m so thirsty.” They start guzzling down their water. Their body is already too late to the hydration game, right? They’re too late.

Wilfredo Benitez:

They already dehydrated their body to the point where now they have to guzzle down water to replenish their hydration. You can’t match it, right? You can never get back to that hydrated state if you are continuing to work out and drink water, does that make sense?

Hillary Allen:

Yeah.

Wilfredo Benitez:

You can’t, if you are trying to compensate for not drinking enough water beforehand and you’re drinking your 20 ounce a bottle in that run, in that long run, to stay hydrated, you can’t get to the point of optimal hydration.

Wilfredo Benitez:

You will only kind of mitigate the effects of dehydration, right, because the body’s rate of essentially dehydrating or sweating is much faster than that water coming in, right, than your input of that water coming in.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, what that tells us is that we want to make sure that we are going into our workouts and our runs as hydrated as possible, again because we can’t play catch up, right? Think of it in your alter running. You can’t play catch up in terms of calories, right?

Wilfredo Benitez:

If you are in a 100K plus event, you will never be able to match the demand of what the body is burning essentially calorically with what you can actually put in. It’s just impossible, you can’t match it. Same thing applies to water or hydration.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, what we want to do is make sure that we are hydrating properly beforehand. I don’t mean just in the hour before, but just essentially all the time, right?

Wilfredo Benitez:

But yes even within the hour before because oftentimes people don’t want to drink water because they’re going to have to stop and pee during the run or because they don’t want the feeling of the water inside them when they’re going on a run. It’s all right, those are very real things, I totally get it.

Wilfredo Benitez:

But it’s not worth not getting the most out of your workout or out of your run if you are going into it dehydrated because what that is doing is it’s potentially sapping your energy, like you’ve kind of alluded to in your story where you just aren’t going to get through that workout as best as you can. You’re going to slow down.

Wilfredo Benitez:

You might have to stop early and/or I should say, you are just putting more recovery demand on your body because you just kind of worked it out past what that workout was supposed to do.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, let’s say your coach threw a plan at you, the coach knows what that workout is supposed to do to your body and how you should recover from it, but if you tried to do that in a pretty dehydrated state, now you have to recover so much more because you just worked out your body way more than the coach was trying to work out your body, right?

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, let’s not put that extra stress on us and let’s go into these workouts and these runs properly hydrated. When it comes to kind of pre-workout hydration, what I often recommend is within that hour of running, let’s say you’re going to workout or run at 10:00 AM, between 9:00 and 10:00, you’re getting in at least 20 ounces of water for that run even if it’s not hot out, even if it’s a 40 minute run, it’s not an hour and a half minute run. It doesn’t matter, start building those habits, right?

Wilfredo Benitez:

Get into that state and that routine of properly hydrating before your runs or before your gym session, especially your gym sessions so you just sweat so much in the gym.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Go into those workouts properly hydrated from the get go. Then as I mentioned before, it’s like all the time too, right? Just make sure you are on top of your hydration. Don’t forget about that because the body when it’s not training, it’s recovering. That’s clear and simple, right?

Wilfredo Benitez:

If you’re not training, then what your body is doing in those other hours of the day whether it’s 22 hours or 20 hours, it doesn’t matter, in those hours that you’re not training, your body is recovering.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, you want to make sure that you are staying as hydrated as possible so that your body can continue to recover as much as possible and as optimally as possible.

Hillary Allen:

Yeah. Well then speaking about recovery, I know you alluded to this a little bi earlier, but where does alcohol come in to this balance?

Wilfredo Benitez:

Yeah. Alcohol consumption I want to say for everyone but for many especially for many of our adult listeners out there, is a real thing, right? It’s a social activity. Maybe we just love that glass of wine and I love that cold beer. It’s getting warmer out there, maybe we’re going to be depending on the situation with this whole coronavirus.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Maybe we’ll be getting back to a somewhat state of maybe a new normal this summer. We’ll be having those kind of opportunities again to enjoy alcoholic beverages in social settings with friends and coworkers, et cetera, right?

Wilfredo Benitez:

It’s kind of a really kind of perfect time to start thinking about what alcohol does and what that means for our bodies and recovery. So, essentially I’ll just throw this out there, alcohol is doing, I would say, virtually nothing for your recovery and from a performance or athletic standpoint, right?

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, if you are trying to recover from that hard workout, do not look to alcohol to do that, right, because it’s just not going to do that. Is it going to supply carbohydrates? Yes. Okay. We know that it has carbohydrates. We know it has sugars.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Is it going to allow your body to properly process those carbohydrates and recover and get those carbohydrates to the muscles and do what those carbs should be doing for the body? No. Alcohol disrupts the proper metabolism of the body. It demands a lot of attention from the body in terms of processing.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, when alcohol is consumed it kind of almost stops other things from happening in the body and requires that the body process alcohol above other things, above other carbs, above other fats, above proteins.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, it’s not going to optimize that digestion and metabolic activity, which we want to be optimized as athletes. So, never drink alcohol? No. I don’t think that you should never drink alcohol, cut if off completely unless you want to. If you want to do that, by all means go for it.

Wilfredo Benitez:

But if you’re trying to wrestle with do I do that? I really love alcohol. I really love hanging out with friends and having a beer, whatever the case is, okay have that but then think about when you do it or how often you do it and maybe your answer or your sweet spot is somewhere in that area versus just never having it.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, maybe you just make sure that you don’t have it post-workout, because again, the body is really trying to recover soon after working out, having alcohol after that race or going for a run, showering and going out for beers with a friend probably is just not the best scenarios for when you have the alcohol consumption happening.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Maybe you save it for other times when it’s not post-workout. Or maybe you save it for the weekends when maybe you get to workout in the morning and the alcohol consumption is kind of in the evenings.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Or again, maybe you think about the amount, right? So, instead of having maybe two plus servings of alcohol whenever you do have it, cut it down, right? Cut it down to no more than two or less than two obviously.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Just that reduction of alcohol is going to help, right? You’re still having it, so there’s something to consider there, but you’re having less. So, that does help and mitigate a little bit there what the three or two plus servings is going do to your body.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Now I do want to mention Hillary that I drink alcohol, right? I don’t know if you drink alcohol but I drink alcohol and I think that there’s something else behind alcohol that needs to be considered.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, when we think about health, we also maybe think of over here wellness, right? Health and wellness. It kind of goes hand-in-hand. But they’re two different things, right? I think of health as more physiological, right? More like is the body doing its functioning in a healthy state?

Wilfredo Benitez:

Everything that it should be doing it’s doing right. I think and it’s not diseased, right? It’s not experience dis-ease. It’s not experience at extra stress physiologically speaking.

Wilfredo Benitez:

I think of that as health. I think of everything else as wellness. I think of the mental components to wellness. There’s an emotional component to wellness. There’s a spiritual component to wellness. I think very much there’s a social component of wellness, right?

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, when we think about alcohol, think about the settings that you’re in for the most part, right? So, maybe you’re having drinks with friends and you’re enjoying a night hanging out with your best friends.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Maybe you’re enjoying a happy hour evening with coworkers and that happens maybe once a month if not less frequently than that where you really get to connect with the people that you work with.

Wilfredo Benitez:

And you get to share ideas and laugh with people who otherwise you’re only working with, maybe you’re only experiencing their lives under work stress.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Maybe you’re having wine with family. Maybe there’s a family function happening where you get together with family once a month or something and yeah you bring out the nice wines and you enjoy that company.

Wilfredo Benitez:

There is so much of benefits that comes with that setting that if alcohol is involved there or if, I don’t want to say it’s necessary, but if it’s in a healthy atmosphere, then what we see is the wellness benefits can certainly outweigh the health negatives that might be occurring in those settings, right?

Hillary Allen:

Yeah.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, if you are thoroughly, thoroughly enjoying the time that you are having and yes some alcohol is involved in that time, those benefits that come from those moments in life very, very much outweigh the somewhat negative benefits that is happening metabolically. Or sorry not benefits, negatives that are happening metabolically from the alcohol consumption, right?

Wilfredo Benitez:

Because, it’s improving your mood. It’s improving your state of mind. Those social settings and events are improving your motivation and I feel good as a person-ness, right?

Hillary Allen:

Yeah.

Wilfredo Benitez:

It’s kind of like helping your overall commitment to your health and to your athletic pursuit by having those moments in your life. So yeah, if alcohol is involved, let it be involved, right? Just enjoy those moments for what they are.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Then just moderate consumption elsewhere. But I want to make that clear because I do think that there is definitely, there can be these wellness benefits that come when alcohol may be consumed that I don’t think people need to kind of take themselves out of those social events, those familial events because they can’t drink alcohol, right?

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, now there’s all this extra stress and now they can’t enjoy these times because alcohol can’t be consumed. I’d much rather them enjoy the glass of beer and enjoy those times with friends and coworkers and family than not have that glass of beer and not enjoy the time that they should be enjoying.

Wilfredo Benitez:

I hope that makes sense but I really do think that that is such an important thing and I really want people to kind of take note of that when thinking about should I get rid of alcohol completely.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Again, your choice. But maybe it’s just in moderation and you really have to figure out what’s best for you.

Hillary Allen:

I love that. I think that that is actually one of when in doubt. The same goes for “unhealthy foods” I think where athletes can get into this trap about what’s bad, or what’s good. In my opinion I think you can eat everything mostly from the earth like plants. But you can eat everything in moderation and yeah, there you go. Just not too much. It’s okay.

Hillary Allen:

But I think you provided some really good tips and I think this is a good place to wrap it up. As always, I want to thank you for your time. I always learn so much whenever I talk to you.

Hillary Allen:

Yeah, I’m just so grateful for this opportunity and I think it’s provided a lot of useful tips for all the athlete listeners if they are looking to organize their nutrition.

Hillary Allen:

Of course, this is on the other podcast too and we’ll link it in the end. But I’ll just kind of wrap it up with if athletes want to get in contact with you more specifically, how might they do that?

Wilfredo Benitez:

Yes, thank you. They can reach out to me. My website is www.onpacewellness.com. They can email me at Wilfredo, W-I-L-F-R-E-D-O@onpacewellness.com. My number is on my website. It’s out there. You can just google search me or something like that.

Wilfredo Benitez:

My contact info is out there because I want to be as accessible to people as possible. By all means, as we talked about before listeners, try this stuff out on your own, right? Try these tips, use your body as a science experiment because that’s really the only way that we’re going to figure it out, right?

Wilfredo Benitez:

I tell my clients all the time, this is a process. I don’t have the answer right away. I need to make sure that it’s the right answer. The only way to make sure of doing that is by having the person try out my recommendations.

Wilfredo Benitez:

So, it’s all an experiment, it’s all a process and we’re just all trying to find the best way to do things. So, go out there, I hope this podcast inspires you to work on some things on your own.

Wilfredo Benitez:

If you have other questions, if you want to do more, dive in more, reach out to me, reach out to Hillary, she’s a breath of knowledge as well. Yeah, let’s connect that way. But yeah, I hope this excites people to learn more and do more on their own.

Hillary Allen:

Well it definitely excited me. I’m going to try out some more things on my own.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Great. Great.

Hillary Allen:

But thanks so much Will for joining us. It is always a pleasure.

Wilfredo Benitez:

Thank you Hillary, thank you so much. Have a good day.

Hillary Allen:

You too.


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