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Ironman Training and Nutrition
by Josh Becker on March 17, 2015
Cleanse update It has been just over a month since my last blog. I started my 28-day cleanse last week. I am currently on Day 11. The first week of the cleanse is probably the hardest. It requires you to get off coffee for an entire week! I can drink green tea in exchange for coffee, but talk about feeling sluggish and tired for 3 days. I am struggling with motivation this go around in my program. I am not able to work out yet, and I won’t be able to for another month. If you thought I was going crazy before, yeah don’t ask me about it now! I have had more then my fair share of cheat days, and really that’s completely on me. Some of the requirements are that you get off bread, grains, sugary foods, and no vegetable oils (soybean, canola, etc.). My program started a bit late due to the late arrival of supplements that I need to take on the program; there was a back order on Amazon. One of the nice things about the program I am on is that it gives you a sample meal plan. You aren’t required to follow it completely; you can come up with other meals that you can have as well. Some of the recipes are great and some are terrible. Right before you start the cleanse, you get your weight and measure your waist and chest. At the end of the cleanse, you can see and compare the results, oh and don’t forget the selfie! Hypoparathyroidism, Athleticism, and Nutrition Hypoparathyroidism and being an athlete make nutrition one of the biggest priorities when I plan my training and races. I want to use the body fat I have for my energy and that is why I try to avoid any kind of processed carbohydrates. I have found over the course of a few years of experimentation that I need to limit what kind of bread I eat because of gluten. Hypoparathyroidism has its own set of complications when it comes to diet. Since I typically follow (when behaving) a Paleo diet, this can be very hard with this disease. One of the major problems is that with hypopara, our bodies don’t regulate calcium intake and phosphorous levels properly. That signal between the parathyroid glands and the kidneys is broken. They no longer communicate properly; I call it a failure to communicate. I typically eat a lot of green vegetables, whether it’s various kinds of green lettuce, broccoli, zucchini, etc., and various kinds of nuts, such as almonds, cashews, and pistachios. So you are probably thinking what’s wrong with all those foods? The answer is they are high in calcium, which is good for me with hypoparathyroidism, but they also have a high amount of phosphorous, too. I have just learned this over the years; unfortunately, I am not a nutritionist so I can’t really explain why that is good or bad. All I know is that over time my kidneys will pay the price if I consume too much of these types of foods. As an athlete and someone trying to take care of my body, it is my job to make sure I find a balance between all of this. Nutrition and Racing When you consider the amount of hours that I have to put into a swim, bike, or run, my nutrition becomes a huge factor in how I perform. When I first started triathlons back in 2008, I had no idea what all the stuff was on the market. I would get samples of Hammer Gels, GU Chomps, GU Gels, Accel Gel, and Cliff Shot Blocks. One time I went to volunteer for a race and I got 4 cases of Accelerade! I was set for a while drinking that. I tried all these things when I first started and, mind you, this was how it was for me for 5 years! My poor stomach! I couldn’t figure out why I would feel so gassy and not have any energy for my races. I would also have stomachaches, especially after my race was over. The gels were like glue to my system. Whether I am training or racing, I want a balance of water and carbohydrates—something that will turn into energy and not make me comatose. I have found a product that works really well for me and have been using it for the past 2 years now. Generation UCan takes the place of Gatorade and all of those sugary drinks that are mostly chemicals. It burns on a low glycemic index, which allows me to sustain energy for a longer period of time. If I am riding my bike for 1 to 2 hours, I will only take water with me, anything more than that will include my Generation Ucan beverage. As for food intake, the only time I will eat any food is during the bike (but I might snack on a few chips in a long distance race). On the bike, I usually will take Paleo bread with almond butter/strawberry preserves/jam (I use the brand with the least amount of sugar I can find) that are all natural products with no additives. During my run, I usually will carry fluids. I carry it either by hand or by wearing a fuel belt. During my Half Ironman, I wore the fuel belt and filled 3 bottles with Generation Ucan and 1 bottle with water. Swimming is rather challenging so I usually focus on what I eat the day before to fuel me for a swim the next morning. I do not eat before I go swimming because it gives me a stomachache. Before races, I will eat 1 and 1/2 hours before my race begins. My race day meal consists of a sweet potato (or two) cooked with grass-fed butter and lots of cinnamon and a bowl of fresh berries. Last but not least, I always have extra supplements with me, I hope in the future, if I am able to take Cal-EZ, I can pour some in one of my bottles and sip on it as I workout to give me a bit of a boost in calcium. One thing that is a must, NEVER try new things at a race unless it’s a practice race. As always train hard and have fun. My next blog will be focusing on my new training schedule and the news of whether I got into Ironman Kona! Disclosure: I receive an athletic scholarship from Cal-EZ. Although I am not able to take Cal-EZ right now because of my participation in a clinical study that mandates I use a different calcium product, my thoughts about Cal-EZ are my own because I believe it is beneficial for people on the go and for those suffering with hypoparathyroidism. We are is interested in better understanding the calcium needs in athletes. Participate in our brief (5 min.) online survey and we'll send you a complimentary sample of Cal-EZ.