Saturday, May 4, 2013

Triangular Nutrition

There has been a lot of discussion lately over a new school of thought in sports nutrition. Getting calories into your system while participating in endurance events is important. Getting the right kind of calories is as important as getting the right kind of fuel in your car. And of course, getting the proper amount of calories into your system can make a difference in finishing--or running out of gas. But another groundbreaking discovery has emerged recently--a breakthrough that has empowered even middle age overweight competitors to significant PRs. The newest trend in sports endurance fuel is Triangular Nutrition.

Road marathoners for years have ran their races using mostly Gatorade or a similar sports drink, and gels. But as runners venture into further distances, solid food becomes the norm. Jog into an aid station in your local 50K or 100 mile race, and you'll see a splendid layout--a bodacious buffet of chips, cookies, fruit, candy, boiled potatoes, burritos, and even pancakes and bacon. But a new trend has crept in which has amped up the power of many of the staple aid station offerings. MAKING THESE SNACKS IN THE SHAPE OF A TRIANGLE GIVES THEM MORE APPEAL AND MORE POTENCY.

Here we have two sandwiches made out of the same loaf of white bread, and out of the same jar of grape jelly and creamy peanut butter. The sandwich on the left is cut into rectangles, and the one on the right has been crafted into triangles. Which would you choose? In a recent 50K in Oklahoma, one aid station served PBJs cut into rectangles, and another served sandwiches cut into triangles. The rectangle aid station used 1/2 of a loaf of bread and not all of the sandwiches were eaten. The triangle aid station went through two loaves of bread, and part of a third--proving that the three-sided shape is much more appealing.

Here are a few more pictures of how appealing sandwiches are when prepared in a triangular fashion.

In the second picture, the triangular sandwiches are mouthwatering--but the chips leave a little to be desired. Just imagine how much more appetizing they would be if they were Doritos!!

In this same race, one runner--Mitch Drummond--had eaten a rectangular sandwich and noticed a moderate boost of energy. Upon passing through the next aid station, he consumed a triangular one, and ate another when he passed back by. Mitch's next few miles were several seconds per mile faster, but after missing a triangular PBJ at the next two aid stops, his pace then slowed.

Mitch is a believer now, and makes eating triangles part of his training routine and race fueling strategy.

There is scientific backing to the triangular nutrition principals. A well known ultra runner, who is a veteran to several 100 milers, 50 milers, and 50Ks, and is also a renowned micro-biologist, says that sandwiches--particularly PBJs when properly cut into triangles, deliver the needed carbohydrates directly into the digestive system and subsequently into the bloodstream significantly quicker, as the crust in the bread does not act as a buffer. The sweet jelly and the oil of the peanut butter comes in quicker contact with the mouth linings and salivary glands. A laymen might describe this difference as a "yum" factor. I have noticed hungry ultra runners making large savage bites, often taking the majority of the triangle in a single chomp.

The triangle is not a new shape in nutrition. In fact, even in the early 70s the "food pyramid" was used in adding structure to the nutritional world.
At the bottom--Bread (cut into triangles.) This includes other flours products such as cake, donuts, and pizza crust. On the next level--Fruits and Veggies. Gotta include that if if has a prayer of being "healthy." Next up--Dairy and meats. Ice cream and BACON!!!! Then sweets--the purest form of carbohydrates. Making us middle aged overweight ultra runners what they are--AWESOME.

The triangle is the perfect shape. A square piece of cheese--one serving--when cut into triangles, has half the calories (a good thing to know when one is calorie counting.) And then cut those triangles in half and you have even more triangles. It's magic. And again, the appeal of the shape is undeniable.
Which side of the pizza would you eat first?

Mitch, and a few of his ultra running friends, who share his passion and desire to take their nutrition seriously, have found ways to incorporate Triangular Nutrition into their post-race meals.
After a recent weekend long-night-run, they found their selves at an IHOP where with very little extra effort, transformed their meals into turbocharged triangular super-fuel.

Another well known local ultra runner made yet another discovery recently. According to his Facebook page, "I just had an epiphany! I am convinced that eating triangles is vital to proper fueling in distance running. I have realized that the Braum's waffle cone I just ate WAS A TRIANGLE once I leveled out the ice cream on the top. It's kind of like a 3-dimensional triangle, which really rocks!!"

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