Posts Tagged by nutrition

Friday Feast: Pre-Race Fuel at WDW

One of the questions I get asked most often is “Where is the best place to eat before a runDisney race at Walt Disney World?”  This is such a difficult question and something I struggle with before every race.  Luckily, WDW has a TON of dining options, so there is generally something for everyone.

Here are a few of the places I have dined at before runDisney events…the good, bad and meh.

Via Napoli

Chicken Parmesan at Via Napoli

Chicken Parmesan at Via Napoli

Italian food always seems to be the go to meal before races, probably because of the abundance of pasta for carb-loading.  So before my first half marathon (Princess 2012), that’s exactly what I decided on and headed to Via Napoli.  I really wanted Chicken Parmesan (one of my favorite pre-race meals anywhere!) which is what I ordered.  At Via Napoli, this comes with roasted potatoes, but I wanted some pasta.  The waiter would not make the substitution, saying that the chef absolutely refuses.  Really?  In Disney?  Interesting…

So I settled for the potatoes, which were good but just didn’t hit the spot.  Also, the restaurant is very loud and busy so I didn’t enjoy the overall experience for before a race.  You can read my full review here.

San Angel Inn

Enchiladas Verde De Pollo at San Angel Inn

Enchiladas Verde De Pollo at San Angel Inn

I had a late lunch here before the 2013 WDW Marathon to fuel up for those long 26.2 miles.  I LOVE Mexican food and while it might not be good for some before a race, it’s perfect for me.  Well as long as it’s something mild and not too acidic.  The enchiladas at San Angel Inn are just perfect.  Corn tortillas, rice and beans for carbs and tons of chicken for protein.  Unfortunately, I had to pass on having a yummy margarita, but there’s always next time…

Maya Grill

Grande Taco Platter at Maya Grill

Grande Taco Platter at Maya Grill

Oh look…more Mexican food!  Maya Grill is an absolute hidden gem at WDW.  Fantastic food, fun entertainment and it’s pretty easy to get a reservation.  Before the 2013 Princess Half Marathon, my fellow Mexican food lover Amanda and I headed to Maya Grill to fuel up with some of our friends.  We shared a giant bowl of guacamole to start, which was some of the best guac I’ve ever had, and I ordered the Grande Taco Platter for my entree.  I got a combination of beef, shrimp and chicken tacos, and the beef tacos were by far the best.  The shrimp and chicken were just meh.  It came with a generous portion of rice, beans and corn pudding.  Overall, it was amazing and great fuel for the race!

Kouzzina

Turkey-Sweet Potato Hash at Kouzzina

Turkey-Sweet Potato Hash at Kouzzina

It’s no secret that I LOVE Kouzzina breakfast, so it probably comes as no surprise that this is my go to place for meals before any of the night races at WDW.  Before both the 2012 Tower of Terror 10-Miler and the Wine & Dine Half Marathon, I had a late breakfast (around 10:00 am) at Kouzzina.  Before I found out about my egg sensitivity, my favorite dish was the Turkey-Sweet Potato Hash, which is topped with a perfectly poached egg and arugula.  Drooooooolllll.  Perfect fuel for a night race!!

Since both those races, I have taken tests that have shown that I have a severe sensitivity to eggs.  Booooooo!!!  But guess what??  I found out from Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free in WDW that Kouzzina has some of the best allergen free waffles around.  And YES they do!!  Get these bad boys with a side of that delicious sweet potato hash and you are good to go.  You know where I’ll be for all the WDW races this fall.  You can read my full review of all the allergen free options here.

Allergen Free Waffles & Chicken Sausage at Kouzzina

Allergen Free Waffles & Chicken Sausage at Kouzzina

Landscape of Flavors

Mango, Blueberry, Banana Smoothie at Landscape of Flavors

Mango, Blueberry, Banana Smoothie at Landscape of Flavors

There are so many options at Landscape of Flavors at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, but my favorite pre-race option is their smoothie bar.  I drink a smoothie everyday for breakfast to get me going, so this was a seriously awesome find for me in WDW.  The only bad thing is that they wouldn’t add any spinach from the salad bar in the next station…come on!!  But even without the spinach, the mango, blueberry and banana smoothie I had was delicious and a wonderful snack before the Wine & Dine Half Marathon.

ESPN Zone

Championship Chicken Sandwich at ESPN Zone

Championship Chicken Sandwich at ESPN Zone

If you’re staying at the Boardwalk, this is an easy option to get a good meal.  Before the 2012 Wine & Dine Half Marathon, I ate here and ordered the Champion Chicken Sandwich without the bun.  I also got the sun-dried tomato pesto and goat cheese on the side so I could limit my intake of that.  The chicken was very good and the dish was a nice combination of protein and carbs for the race.  I just wish they had sweet potato fries!

I would also recommend getting your food to go if you plan on dining here before a race.  The restaurant is very loud with all of the games going on, so it’s not the best place to relax and get your head together.

In-Room Food

Whole Wheat Bagel Thin, Almond Butter & Banana

Whole Wheat Bagel Thin, Almond Butter & Banana

This combo is my must do meal prior to any race.  Whenever I’m in WDW for a race, I make a point to stop for some bagels, almond butter and bananas.  For me, this is the ideal race fuel…carbs, protein, sugars…perfect.  This combo is also great for staying in a hotel room because nothing needs to be refrigerated.  Trust me on this one…you’ll love it!

Well those are the restaurants I’ve visited so far prior to runDisney events.  What is you’re go to meal before a race?  What is your favorite WDW dining location before a race?

Friday Feast: Tower of Terror 10-Miler Post Race Snacks

Are you sick of hearing about the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler yet??  No?  Good!

After the finish line at runDisney races, runners enter an area full of food and drinks.  Generally there is water, Powerade, bananas galore and a box of snacks.  Each race seems to have something different.  We had hummus in the post-race snacks at the Princess Half Marathon.  Here’s what we got at the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler:

This was an interesting and more robust box than the Princess I thought.  Here we have:

  • Dried fruit & nut mix
  • Multi-Grain Crackers (love these!)
  • White cheddar cheese spread (??)
  • Snap Infusion tart candies
  • Cliff Bar
  • Almond Roca chocolate toffee
  • Wet-nap (nice addition!)

There were a lot of sweet options in this box!  Cliff Bars don’t sit well with me so I didn’t try this, but I can imagine that it was a sweet chocolate as most protein bars are.  Then there was the Almond Roca, which is chocolate toffee covered in almonds…this was super good!  I’m a big toffee fan, so a win for me.  I guess the Snap Infusion tart candies weren’t actually sweet, but they are a “supercandy” as stated on their website.  I don’t love tart candies, or any similar hard candy for that matter (strange I know!), so these didn’t do much for me.

The dried fruit & nut mix was the same brand from the Princess Half, which I didn’t love because I think the fruit is too sweet and the nuts too salty.  But again, I picked out the almonds and was happy with that.  Lastly, we have the crackers and cheese spread.  I LOVE the multi-grain crackers and always wish the bag was bigger, but I was skeptical of the cheese.  Unrefrigerated dairy products always skeeve me out a bit.  B was brave enough to try it and wasn’t a fan, calling it a “low quality Laughing Cow cheese.”  Hmmmm….

Cheese Spread

These boxes are great snacks, but after a long race I’m definitely looking for some more sustenance…like this:

The Real Post Race Goodness!

Yes, I know we will never get this after a race, so I greatly appreciate the food that is provided.  This is where the Disney difference comes in because snack boxes like this are not common in most local races.  So even though I might not love everything, good effort!

What did you think of the post race snacks?  What would you like to see in the boxes going forward?

Friday Feast: Fuel, It’s Not Just For Your Car

The proper fuel is important to get anything moving and this includes your body!  When you fuel your body with the right food, fluids and nutrients, you are giving it the ability to perform the tasks you need it to, strengthen muscles and maintain bone health.  This is even more important during exercise to ensure proper muscle recovery, reduce fatigue and regulate body temperature.

As I’ve mentioned, I recently attended a sports nutrition seminar by Dr. Kathy Dollins.  This was presented to my Team Challenge group, the running team for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.  The presentation was incredibly helpful and I wanted to share a few bits of information that I found useful.

First let’s look at proper nutrition.  There are 6 main groups that lead to proper nutrition: carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water.  Which of these do you think is the most important?  I guessed water, but I was wrong.  In fact, they all are just as important and work together as a team to fuel your body!

These nutrients are ingested into your body in the form of calories and calories = energy.  Energy is what is needed to get you through those tough workouts and long runs, so you must consume enough calories prior to exercise.  Makes sense, right?  A lack of energy can result in not only a poor workout, but it can also lead to a loss of muscle mass, weakened bones, a decrease in your protein stores, fatigue, and an increased risk of injury and illness.  All things that runners do NOT want.

So what’s the trick to getting the right amount of energy?  Carbs.  Oh the dreaded carbs, they’ve gotten such a bad rap lately.  But really, they are a runner’s best friend.  Carbohydrates contain a molecule call glycogen, which is stored in your muscles and liver and is used as a source of fuel during exercise.  You know the old running term “carb-loading” right, well this refers to storing up enough glycogen to avoid depletion during a run.  When glycogen begins to deplete, you hit the proverbial wall and can be overcome by fatigue.  To avoid this, make sure to eat carbohydrates through out the day to keep your stores high.  Each meal should include at least one carbohydrate and before strenuous exercise, like races, make sure about 3/4 of your plate is filled with carb foods.  Just don’t forget to include the other 6 nutrients in there as well.

Mmmmm....carbs

I think the most important thing to remember here is to continue to fuel your body throughout the day.  Make sure to ALWAYS eat breakfast.  Mom didn’t tell you it’s the most important meal of the day for nothing!  Breakfast gets your metabolism going and helps to process all of those nutrients.  When you skip breakfast, you start the day in a negative balance and no one likes to be negative. 😉

Don’t forget that fuel also means hydration.  I posted earlier in the week about water and how to find out if you’re getting enough during your workout, but you also need to make sure fuel and hydrate within 3 hours of a workout to ensure optimal performance.  Now there are sports drinks, which provide hydration, fuel, electrolytes and carbohydrates, but these should be reserved for during and after a workout.  I personally don’t like sports drinks, but I’ve been reading a lot about their benefits so it’s something I need to explore more.

I hope this little sports nutrition 101 summary was helpful to getting you started in finding the proper nutritional balance for your workouts.  Nutrition and sports nutrition in particular are becoming more of an interest for me since it is something I’ve struggled with in my training.  I’m continuing to ingest (get it?!) as much information as I can, so hopefully I’ll be sharing more helpful hints in the future.

Do you have any fueling tips?  What do you eat throughout the day to get the proper exercise nutrition?