Endless Happy Watermelon Days #LivingOnTheWedge + Recipes & Giveaway

Happy National Watermelon Day from TheFitFork.com

Monday August 3rd,  is National Watermelon Day . . .  well, officially anyway. In my world of #LivingOnTheWedge, I celebrate my favorite fruit every single day that I can – and thankfully, in Texas, we have a really long watermelon season! But, I couldn’t let this specifically mandated day of melon mania disappear without its just and juicy due.  So, I’m hosting a giveaway courtesy of Watermelon.org (see bottom of post to enter) and sharing some fit, flavorful and fantastically creative recipes from my Fitfluential Ambasador friends.

All these smart ladies also tout the fantastic nutritional ways watermelon can support an active lifestyle – I’m talking natural sugars needed to fuel fitness, electrolytes to maintain water balance, and vitamin C to bolster immunity. Plus, did you know watermelon is the lycopene leader among fresh produce?!  Also, some studies are showing that athletes who drink watermelon juice before a hard workout benefit from a lowered heart rate and reduction in next-day muscle soreness thanks to blood vessel dilation and improved circulation cause by the amino acid L-citrulline.  Check out the healthy recipes below and make one today!

These unique watermelon recipes are refreshing, revitalizing and perfect for summer meals and outdoor entertaining.

(recipe descriptions starting at top, moving clockwise)

Watermelon Coconut Rice Bowls - CotterCrunch.comCoconut, Rice and Watermelon Salad Bowls  from CotterCrunch.com: If you’re tired of the same-old, same old -salad, this beauty in a bowl will surely catch your attention. Coconut cream, jasmine rice, watermelon chunks and raisins mingle together in one amazing bowl of nourishment! Light, refreshing, gluten free, and delicious!

 

Beluga Lentil, Watermelon Caprese Salad - UprootFromOregon.comBeluga, Lentil & Watermelon Salad from UprootFromOregon.com: This Beluga Lentil and Watermelon Caprese Salad is an unexpected upgrade from the traditional caprese you might see on an Italian menu – juicy tomatoes, torn mozzarella, and basil leaves are complimented with staying power of protein from black lentils. Oh, and the watermelon . . . swoon!

Sugar Free Watermelon Sorbet - Fitfluential.comSugar Free Watermelon Sorbet (Video) from Fitfluential.com: Check out this video that will lead you through the surprisingly easy steps of making a big dish of frozen watermelon deliciousness – it’s just lightly sweetened with stevia and the natural sugars of watermelon.

 

Rosemary Watermelon LemonadeRosemary Watermelon Lemonade from PlaidandPaleo.com: This tall glass of lemony goodness is uniquely yummy thanks to the use of herbs and ice-cold watermelon. Honey is used as the sweetener to keep every sip free of refined sugars.

 

Watermelon Margarita - Arismenu.comRestaurant Style Watermelon Margaritas from ArisMenu.com: When day’s end need a little happy, this flavor-packed libation will rock your either your socks or sandals off – or both depending on your style!

 

 

Watermelon Gazpachio - PancakeWarriors.comEasy Watermelon Gazpacho from PancakeWarriors.com: Soup in the summer has never been more refreshing than with a chilled bowl of this tomato and cucumber based gazpacho – the secret ingredient is naturally watermelon, and it is absolutely wonderful to the last slurp.

 

Celebrate special summer days with a healthy "cake" made from watermelon!If you need even MORE recipe inspiration, check out my Watermelon Living On The Wedge Pinterest Board or visit the recipe collection at Watermelon.org.

I celebrated MY July birthday with a recipe I created for just for ME! It was a healthy Chocolate Cherry Watermelon “Cake” and I did end up sharing the real deal with family and friends – and the recipe with you. Not only is this cake a show stopper, there is lots of good in every slice with very little guilt!

 

 

Ice Cold Watermelon perfect healthy treat for summer -- only 80 calories per cut and 92 percent water to stay hydrated.

Have you seen the other ways I’ve been celebrating watermelon and #LivingOnTheWedge this summer? To name a few, I hit nearly every watermelon stand and farmer’s truck this side of the Mississippi River, kicked off the warm-weather season with a crazy Watermelon Pool Workout, a CrossFit Style Partner WOD used watermelons every which way imaginable on picnics.

Giveaway = Watermelon Prize PackEnter my Watermelon Gift and Goodies Giveaway — one lucky reader will get the following prizes to help celebrate watermelons every day of the year —-> -Pool Float (Awesome), Apron, Socks, Scarf, Kitchen Scrubber, Note Pad, Pen, Book and Star Cookie Cutters (for making watermelon stars!).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Watermelon Coconut Cherry Sippers + 8 Ways to Enjoy Picnic Day

Watermelon and Picnics #LivingOnTheWedge

Pack your cooler and head to the nearest park, lake or recreation area because June 18 is International Picnic Day! Yes, that’s right, folks all over the world will be lounging on blankets, grilling or eating cold-cut sandwiches and enjoying refreshing beverages. While I personally think it might be a bit cold for a June picnic in some parts of the world (uhh, like Siberia), Texas certainly has more than enough of the warm weather thing going on – that’s why I insist on making watermelon part of our picnic in every way possible.

Eight Ways to Enjoy Watermelon on a Picnic

Watermelon Coconut Cherry Sippers are a refreshing, hydrating drink for your summer picnic.Not only is a slice of watermelon super tasty, it’s also hydrating. Did you know that munching on 8-ounces of watermelon is like drinking almost that same amount of water – but in addition, you get natural sugars, electrolytes, vitamin A, vitamin C, and lycopene! It’s like Mother Nature’s sports drink except with no added sugars or funky stuff.  You’re going to love to quench your thirst with my recipe for Watermelon Coconut Cherry Sippers at the bottom of this post.

8 Unique Ways to Enjoy Watermelon at a Summer Picnic

In addition to the Watermelon Coconut Cherry Sipper recipe, I’m also sharing eight ways to enjoy watermelon at your next picnic or outdoor event!

Eat by the Slice: Uncut, this fruit is easy and mess-free to pack for a picnic – and big enough to share with a crowd. Slice up your watermelon on-site with this simple way to make watermelon spear slices for sharing.

Use as “Ice” in Cooler:  Chill an uncut watermelon or two in the refridgerator overnight, get ‘em good and cold. Transfer watermelon to a cooler the next day before your picnic and pack remainder of food around and on top of the melon.  If using picnic perishables within a few hours, food should remain cold and safe. However, if it’s going to be a long day in the sun, add a bit of ice.

Repurpose Rind as Vase:  The bowl-like rind that remains after watermelon flesh is scooped out makes a clever vessel for displaying flowers.  Use a personal-sized melon and slice off the top three-fourths of the way up.  Or, for a dramatic display on a big table, slice a large oval melon in half lengthwise and arrange with blooms.

Work Up a Sweat: Don’t lounge on the picnic blanket all day, get moving! Use a watermelon to get in a workout on dry land or exercise in the pool – watermelons in sizes ranging from 10 to 40 pounds are easy to find, so there is a weight option for everyone.

Kid-friendly Cutouts:  Keep younger children busy and entertained at your picnic by appointing them helpers who punch out shapes in slices of watermelon with cookie cutters.  Shapes can be served on an ice pop stick for a fun handle.

Drink Up: Because watermelons are more than 90 percent water, they are very refreshing on a hot day. The high water content along with vitamins, electrolites and other nutrients will help you and your family from becoming dehydrated on a hot day.  Drink the juice “as-is” or enjoy one of the numerous watermelon beverages around including the Watermelon Coconut Cherry Sipper recipe below or one of the many watermelon beverage recipes from the National Watermelon Promotion Board.

Create Unique Recipes: Watermelon is very versatile and can be incorporated into many creative recipes for your picnic. Pack the fixings for Watermelon Sandwich Wraps or, if grilling at your picnic, whip up a batch of Spicy Watermelon BBQ Sauce before you head out.

Play Games:  Keep the watermelon fun going all day long by using the fruit to play fun party games.  Small children will have a blast playing Hot Watermelon with a small, personal-sized watermelon. Have the kids sit in a circle and pass the watermelon around from person to person while music plays. The child who is holding the watermelon when the music stops is “out” and the game continues until one person remains.  Older kids will have fun at a pool or lake picnic playing Greased Watermelon Football, a game where a watermelon rubbed with Vasaline is tossed in the water and teams jump in to retrieve it and bring to dry land – it’s a slippery, action-packed and hysterical event!

Watermelon Picnic TableIf you’re feeling crafty, why not paint up a simple picnic table to resemble the quintessential fruit of summertime?!  I found this cute idea on Pinterest! That reminds me,  you should follow my #LivingOnTheWedge Pinterest board to keep up to date on all things watermelon!

 

Watermelon Coconut Cherry Sippers are a healthy, hydrating and refreshing beverage for your next picnic.

Watermelon Coconut Cherry Sippers Recipe:

  • 4 cups chopped watermelon
  • 12-ounce bottle coconut water
  • 1 cup frozen dark cherries

Add approximately 4 cups of chopped watermelon into blender. Pulse for 30 seconds, or until juiced. Pour contents through fine strainer to remove excess pulp (it’s okay if some goes through).  Add a 12-ounce bottle of coconut water to extracted watermelon juice. Stir. Pour evenly into 4 tall glasses and add 6 to 8 frozen dark cherries to each cup (to serve as tasty ice cubes).  Serves 4.

How would you enjoy a watermelon at your next picnic? Please post it in the comments below — XOXO, Jennifer 

The post is sponsored by the National Watermelon Promotion Board. However, the opinions and content (unless otherwise noted) shared are my own and NWPB did not tell me what to say or how to say it.

Hydration For Healthy, Happy Athletes – 50 Shades of Pee

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and DripDrop®, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #DrinkDripDrop #DripDropHydrates http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Hydrating with Drip DropKeeping my family hydrated sometimes seems like a full-time job, especially in the unrelenting summers of Central Texas when the heat and humidity never let up.  It’s easier to tell that I need to top off my tank when it’s 95 degrees, I’m drenched in sweat and my socks have become sponges.  My running friend and I regularly weigh ourselves before we head out on a run (holding the bottle of water we plan to drink) and then again once we return (holding the empty bottle). The difference between the two weight checks is how much additional fluid was lost and serves as a gauge for how much to drink afterward.

Stopping to refuel with Drip Drop Hydration at mile 18 of a marathon.

Stopping to refuel with Drip Drop Hydration at mile 18 of a marathon.

But in the cooler months, staying hydrated is often harder for me.  That sounds counter intuitative, but it’s true. Even though I don’t perspire at as high of a rate, I’m still sweating . . . . and my brain indicators for thirst are turned off because I get cold very easily.  And, if the weather is really cold, sweat can form into vapor before it even has a chance to settle on the skin. One of my worst dehydration experiences was during a marathon in the pouring rain and temperatures in the upper 30s to low 40s.  Boy, I learned a lesson there.

Just on normal days, the average person loses about 8 cups of water — and this doesn’t include the extra needed if you are exercising.  If water isn’t replaced, your heart has to work harder and other organ functions deteriorate as well. Symptoms of being dehydrated include headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, muscle cramping, nausea and vomiting.  Dry mouth, chills and flushed skin are other clues.

50 Shades of Pee - Urine Hydration Check - TheFitFork.com

One way to check if you are in a state of dehydration is to pinch the skin on the top of your hand and pull it up a bit. If it doesn’t return quickly to its normal flat state, you could be dehydrated. However, I think a quick peek in the pot is a more reliable way to gauge hydration levels – is your urine pale and clear (good) or dark and murky (bad). I put together this “Fifty Shades of Pee” chart to help you decipher whether you are in danger of dehydration. Tape it next to the toilet paper roll – ha!

One product I’ve been using to keep myself hydrated during long runs and races is DripDrop® Hydration Powder. It’s a safe, medical-grade hydration product you can buy at your local CVS on the baby aisle. Available in Lemon Flavor or Berry Flavor, DripDrop® Hydration Powder comes with 8 individually packaged servings per box. It’s really easy to stash a couple in a gym bag (or even folded over in a running shorts key pocket) to mix into a plain bottle of water when the need to refuel arises. You can read more about the product and the science behind it here.

It’s perfect for taking along to kid’s sporting activities, too. The American Pediatric Association advises that children should be replenishing fluids every 20 minutes during sports — 5 to 9 ounces of a sports drink, depending on weight (5 for a child weighing 88 pounds, 9 ounces for a child weighing 132 pounds). This is in addition to drinking water before and after practice, too.

Drip Drop Hydration for Lacrosse Practice

Drip Drop Hydration for Lacrosse Practice

DripDrop® Hydration Powder is an easy and cost-effective way to stay hydrated when the flu or stomach bug hits –  my kids like the way it tastes and the product is safe for children over age 1.  I hope your family escapes illness this winter (we all had the flu at Christmas, ugh) – but if you do get sick, head over to the baby aisle at CVS drug store for some DripDrop® Hydration Powder. And, don’t forget to monitor your 50 shades of pee.

drip drop hydration at CVS

Save $1.00 off with the purchase of any ONE (1) box of DripDrop Hydration Powder with  DIGITAL COUPON available 1/25/15 – 2/21/15. Get your print at home coupon here while supplies last –

http://dripdrop.com/cvscoupon/

Slice & Slurp, it’s National Drink Watermelon Day + Watermelon Ginger Limeade Recipe

nuun ambassador jennifer fisher watermelon

The weathermen don’t need to convince me that July 24th is considered the hottest day of the year.  Here in Austin with temperatures about to pass the 100 degree mark, I think I could sear my favorite spice-crusted tenderloin steak to perfect mouthwatering, medium-rareness right on the sidewalk. Seriously.  I actually enjoy the heat and think in a past life I may have been a lizard. However, unrelenting warm temperatures create challenges when exercising outdoors  — one of the biggest problems is remaining hydrated as sweating increases.  Even becoming moderately dehydrated really puts a downer on the day – who wants to deal with muscle cramps, a nagging headache and lingering fatigue?

july 24 drink watermelon badge

I was super excited to find out today is National Drink Watermelon Day, a pretty awesome proclamation made by the National Watermelon Promotion Board (NWPB).   Drinking watermelon juice is a great way to keep fluid levels topped off – this jumbo-sized juicy fruit is made from 92 percent water and is a robust resource for replenishing electrolytes. Watermelon can even help your muscles recover more quickly from workouts thanks to the amino acid L-citrulline.  I talk about this in more detail in the Running & Watermelon Hydration and Watermelon & Workout Recovery posts I did for my recent week of #LivingOnTheWedge.

benefits of drinking watermelonOutdoor athletes aren’t the only ones that need to stay hydrated during the summer.  A recent Harris Poll commissioned by NWPB reported that nearly 1/3 of us don’t drink enough water – the main reason being lack of flavor. Really, you could just eat an 18 ounces slice of watermelon and it would be like drinking a 16 ounce bottle of water. However, there are so many taste bud tantalizing drinks you can make with watermelon that are so much more exciting than just putting a lemon slice in water. Some of my favorite past recipes are Watermelon Agua Fresca and Watermelon Chia Seed Smoothies. One of my favorite sports hydration companies, Nuun Hydration, even makes a Watermelon-flavored electrolyte replacement tab — I like to add these do watermelon juice for a double boost!

.However, in honor of National Drink Watermelon Day, I’ve come up with a new watermelon beverage that quenches thirst with a kick of ginger – Stevia-Sweetened Watermelon Ginger Limeade. Ginger is an awesome addition to any drink – it boosts the absorption and assimilation of essential nutrients in the body and it has anti-inflammatory properties to sooth sore muscles and joints. A glass of this lightly sweet-sour-spicy drink will make you say “hello” to hydration – who doesn’t want to drink MORE of something that tastes so outrageously good. And, please do drink more – I’ve made this healthy recipe with Stevia to keep the carbs lower!

 

 

low sugar watermelon drink for hydration

Stevia-Sweetened Watermelon Ginger Limeade Recipe

  •  4 oz fresh ginger root
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon powedered Stevia (like Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Stevia)
  • 4 cups watermelon juice
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice
  • 12 oz sparkling water
  • Optional Garnish – lime slices, watermelon balls and fresh mint
  1. Wash and thinly slice ginger root, peeling is not necessary. Add sliced ginger to small sauce pan filled with 2 cups water.  Bring to boil and the lower heat and let simmer (no lid) for about 30 – 45 minutes or until liquid reduced by half.
  2. Pour ginger and water through fine-meshed strainer and into a bowl. Mix in stevia and stir until dissolved. Discard ginger or save for another use.
  3. Prepare watermelon juice by pureeing about 6 cups of watermelon in the blender and straining off pulp. An easier way is just to collect the juice that runs off watermelon when cutting it into chunks – I save all of mine and keep it in the freezer for recipes like this!
  4. To prepare beverage, pour watermelon juice, lime juice, ½ cup ginger “syrup” juice into tall pitcher; stir to combine. Pour in sparkling water and lightly stir.
  5. Serve in tall glasses garnished with lime slices and watermelon balls. Serves 4

gingered watermelon lime drink

 

This post was sponsored by the National Watermelon Promotion Board and I received nominal compensation to share my love for watermelon. All recipes and opinions are my own.

Watermelon, Running & Hydration – Day 4 #LivingOnTheWedge

watermelon running hydration

First of all, happy Independence Day! I’ll be celebrating the Fourth of July by running one of my favorite races in town, the Freedom 5000.  All I’ll be thinking about while zooming through the forecasted 90 degree heat is grabbing a big slice (or two) of watermelon that is waiting at the finish line. There will be hundreds of cold, crisp watermelons served up for rehydrating refreshment – it’s pure heaven and perfect for the patriotic, post-race party. Check back tomorrow to find out if I won and how much watermelon I ate when I was done!

Jennifer Fisher watermelon selfie

I will definitely run for watermelon, any time any place! The natural carbohydrates give me plenty of energy to hit the road, take on the trail or tackle the treadmill. Because watermelon is 92% water, it is also a super way to keep my hydration levels in check before, during and after a run.

will run for watermelon

Eating 8-ounces of watermelon is like drinking almost that same amount of water – but in addition, you get natural sugars, some electrolytes, vitamin A, vitamin C, and lycopene. Research has shown that drinking watermelon juice (simply pureed watermelon flesh) aids in athletic performance just as much as consuming a sports drink like Gatorade but you also get the benefits provided by powerful antioxidents. Also, as I mention on Day 2 of #LivingOnTheWedge, the L-citrulline amino acid found abundantly in watermelon juice can also lower an athlete’s heart rate and instance of delayed-onset muscle fatigue. So, drink up!

In the heat of summer, a runner can become dehydrated easily, losing quarts of water through sweat. If not replaced adequately, you’ll suffer from fatigue, decreased performance, muscle cramping and worse. However, it is just as dangerous to drink too much fluid as too little. Determining your personal fluid replacement rate is a proactive way to stay hydrated and healthy. Runner’s World has a Hydration Calculator that will give you a rough estimate based on weight, temperature and pace. However, I would also suggest performing a “sweat test” for a baseline personal estimate. Before a timed run, weigh yourself with the full water you plan to carry along. Afterward, note the length of time you ran and then get back on the scale with the remaining contents of the water bottle. The weight lost is how much MORE fluid needs to be consumed during runs of the same duration in similar conditions.

So, it’s time to get juicing – I think you’ll love these ways to incorporate watermelon juice into your running routine. 

watermelon juice

Watermelon Agua Fresca – Carry along some of this refreshing watermelon goodness in your water bottle! I’ve also done a version where I added a Nuun Hydration Electrolyte Tab (they make a watermelon flavor!) for an extra boost.

 

 

 

 

 

watermelon beverageWatermelon Pomegranate Green Tea – This drink is perfect if you need a pick-me-up before or during your run. Swap the green tea for caffeinated black tea as a bit of caffeine can actually help improve sports performance. Plus, other research indicates that the bioactive compounds in pomegranate juice help reduce muscle soreness – just as watermelon juice does!

 

Come back tomorrow to check out my Creamy Watermelon Smoothie recipe, it’s so delicious and nutritious and perfect post-run or just hanging out by the pool. You don’t want to miss this one!

How are you celebrating the 4th of July, will you run or eat watermelon?  Please share in the comments below and/or join my group #LivingOnTheWedge Pinterest board to share your love for watermelon.

watermelon prize packAlso, check out all the other posts on watermelon I’m featuring all week and don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a great Watermelon Prize Pack!

The National Watermelon Promotion Board is providing me with compensation to share my love of watermelon. However, the opinions and content (unless otherwise noted) shared are my own and NWPB did not tell me what to say or how to say it.

 

 

 

 

Medicine Ball Mash Up & Saturday Shoutouts

Well, I’m on my way to the “Big D” to run in the Rock & Roll Dallas Half Marathon Sunday morning.  I heard that Deena Kastor is in the field, so I’m really going to have to step up my game (insert hysterical laughing here). The past bronze-medal winning Olympian and American record holder in the marathon (London 2006 in 2:19:36) and half-marathon (Berlin 2006 in 1:07:34) is proof that getting older doesn’t mean you have to stop competing. Even though these records were set eight years back, this weekend the 41-year runner will be trying to make half-marathon history again by breaking as many as three or four American Masters Records, according to Competitor Magazine. If Kastor can run between a 5:25 and 5:30 pace per mile (as opposed to my exact 1 minute per mile slower 6:25 – 6:30 pace), she just may capture records at the splits in four distances — 15K (9.3 miles), 10 Miles, 20K (12.4 miles), and the full half marathon. She estimates her finish time to be 1:11 to 1:12.  Why isn’t she trying break a record in the 5k too?  Just kidding; I learned that lesson the hard way – years ago I PR’d at the 10k inside of a marathon; finishing the remaining 20 miles was brutal.  Run Deena, run, I’ll be chasing you from 13 minutes behind!

jennifer fisher med ball mash up core power

If you’re not running this weekend, I have a fun little workout you can do. All you need is a medicine ball and some space with a hard-surfaced floor. It’s amazing how much you can get worm out with just one piece of gym equipment – a tame-looking medicine ball.  By the way, I whipped up this Medicine Ball Mash Up workout for CorePower. The company makes a great high protein shake to nourish taxed muscles after a hard WOD or run.  Pick up a case for the most delicious workout recovery ever — Chocolate Light is my favorite flavor with 150 calories and 20 grams of protein.

I was also recently sent a sampler pack of Ratio Protein Bars through a campaign for Fitfluential.com (By the way, if you haven’t joined Fitfluential, you really should. It’s free and a great community of instant fitness friends, plus there are lots of perks.  Tell them Jennifer Fisher at TheFitFork.com sent you in the referral line). Anyway, back to the Ratio Bars —  I am a total nutrition bar addict and am very particular about which ones I eat. As you can tell from the picture, I don’t like to give a review without actually trying the product – every one of these Ratio Bars was gobbled up by yours truly. What I like about the bars is the high protein content; I always choose a bar with at least 20 grams of protein (these all have 24 grams) and under 250 calories. Plus, these bars advertise no gluten, no soy products, no hormones, no artificial ingredients and no GMOs.  Hard to say which of the six yummy flavors I liked best, but I think Cookie Crunch and Cake Batter were the front runners.

whey protein bars by Ratio

As part of my ambassadorship with the Zooma Women’s Race Series and their relationship with Ultimate Direction, I was sent some useful running gear to try out. This company has been around since 1985 and is the initial mastermind behind the hydration pack; in fact, they invented the first waist pack designed to carry water bottles – today they have introduced even more options to make hydration easier, from handhelds to vests and more.   I’m excited to try out a couple of products from the Jenny Collection including the “Meow” waist belt and “Handy 10” water bottle. At first I thought maybe they named this cute, comfortable gear after ME, but found out that the designed-for-women-by-women product line is actually named after the athlete-designer, Jenny Jurek (wife of renowned ultra runner, Scott Jurek).  Cool, check them out and stay hydrated this spring!

jenny_handy10_zoom

ultimate direction meow

Marathon Taper Week: What to Eat and Drink

I’ve put in (most) of the mileage, knocked out the speed workouts and juggled my already-crazy life around marathon training; why does it still seem so hard to taper?  I’m not talking about the kind of “hard” that other runners complain about, those A-types who miss the daily pavement pounding and the quantitative atta-boys doled out by stopwatches and training logs. Personally, I sort of like the fewer and more leisurely-run miles gifted to me during the tapering period before a marathon.  Ahhhh.

But, I start to freak out about food; perhaps “obsess” is a better description.  Normally, I’m really not much of a diet worry-wart. I typically eat with my health in mind, but don’t have a problem splurging when the opportunity presents. But, between the fear of bonking (again), the panic of finding an on-course port-a-let due to GI distress (again), or the dread gaining enough weight in one week that I can’t fit into my cute racing shorts (hasn’t happened yet, but who knows), all I can think about this week is what I should be eating and drinking. Although I’ve run plenty of marathons over the last 20 years and should know every trick of the trade (but always forget), I pulled together this list of tips to remind myself how to be as prepared as possible with my nutrition for the week leading up the marathon.

Match calorie input with energy output. Since most training plans have runners reducing mileage 30-50 percent during the last two weeks, calorie intake should be tweaked down as well to avoid real weight gain (however you will temporarily gain some water weight as I mention below). For me, this is only about 250 fewer calories a day in the last week, and is as easy as cutting out my bedtime snack. However, remember that the taper period is not the time to restrict calories with weight-loss in mind; you need to rebuild muscle fibers and top off your glycogen tanks. So, if your body is legitimately saying it’s hungry, eat!

Don’t be a slave to the scale. If you are eating a nutritiously-sound diet and have cut out most of your now-unnecessary refueling snacks, you are not going to pile on the pounds.  That being said, you may actually gain two to four pounds of water weight during the tapering process just by “carbo-loading.”  For ever one ounce of glucose put into reserves, your body stores another three ounces of water.  So a diet a little heavy in carbs the week before, is going to make you retain water – a good thing to prevent dehydration and bonking on the course.

Make clean carb choices.  An unhealthy, high-carb diet includes empty calories found in sugary, processed foods such as candy, cookies and pastries. The simple carbs found in these snack food spike blood sugar in a crash-and-burn manner unlike the longer-lasting energy found in complex carbohydrates (foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy or soy products). Plus, often too many of the simple carbs are also paired with high-calorie fat, sabotaging your ability to efficiently “carbo-load” while still getting enough protein.

Eat your meat (or alternative protein). Just because the food focus during taper week is on complex-carbohydrates and increasing glycogen stores, the importance of lean protein should not be overlooked. Protein has essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that aid in the building and recovery of muscle tissue. Also, many protein choices, such as lean beef, are loaded B vitamins which help efficiently convert those carbohydrates I’ve been talking about into the fuel needed to make it through the marathon. Don’t know how much protein to eat? The average adult requires 0 .8 grams of protein per kilogram (2.2 lbs) of body weight per day, equating to about 55 grams for a 150-pound person. Runners and other endurance athletes should aim for approximately 1.2 to 1.4 grams per kilogram (2.2 lbs), or 82 to 95 grams for a 150-pound person.

Time to hydrate. Taking in enough fluids before the marathon is vital and will help you keep from becoming dehydrated on the course (although, you’ll still have to take in fluid during the actual race). Don’t let cold or overcast weather trick you into thinking you don’t need to drink; I once became severely dehydrated in 35-degrees and pouring down rain. Water is a great choice for hydration, or the sports drink of your choice.  This is not the time to experiment with your beverages, stick to the tried-and-true sports drink used during training runs. Experts warn about over-hydrating (hyponatremia) which can throw off your electrolyte balance and put your life in jeopardy; listen to your body and don’t force water, if you’re not thirsty.  To get a benchmark on your level of hydration, check out this “pee chart” below which shows you the optimal range of urination colors.

Forty-eight hours and counting.  Two days out from the marathon, I suggest continuing the complex-carb and protein diet, but reduce the amount of fiber being consumed. You don’t want stuff moving through you too fast, if you know what I mean. The day before the marathon, consider eating your largest meal at lunch, not dinner. This gives you more time to digest the food, leaving you nourished but not weighed down in the morning. Continue to hydrate, but avoid alcoholic beverages and too much caffeine which could both leave you dehydrated. Also, if you are a “sweater” or the weather is warm, drink your preferred electrolyte beverage and/or salt your food more than usual.

Sweet, Spicy & So Good For You – Watermelon with Fruit Salsa Recipe

Watermelon health benefits

Nothing says ‘welcome to warm weather’ better than a big juicy chunk of watermelon. Plus, this super-sized fruit is packed with all sorts of health benefits for the active person –vitamin A for eye and cell health, vitamin C to prevent cell damage and strengthen immunity and vitamin B6 to help brain function and aid in the conversion of protein into energy.

Watermelon also has the highest concentration of the powerful antioxidant, lycopene, of any fruit or vegetable around – even more than the publicity-hogging tomato.  Also of interest to athletes, watermelon is a great source of potassium, a mineral that aids in muscle and nerve function, helps balance electrolytes, and can lower the risk of high blood pressure. And, watermelon is hydrating – it contains 92% water, that’s why it tastes so good post-workout.

If you are looking for a yummy yet healthy dessert to celebrate your sports achievements or for a backyard barbeque, watermelon is the answer. Serve it up plain and simple in those signature wedges with the rind on or try this delish-and-nutrish recipe I created that was published in the August 2006 issue of Better Homes and Gardens.

BHG prize tested watermelon recipe

Watermelon with Fruit Salsa

  • 2 kiwi fruits, peeled and chopped
  • 2 mangoes, seeded, peeled, and chopped (2 cups)
  • 2 cups chopped fresh strawberries
  • 1 small fresh jalapeno chile pepper, seeded and finely chopped (about 1 Tbsp.)*
  • 1/ 4 cup snipped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ½ cup fresh raspberries
  • 8 1 inch slice quartered watermelon
  • 1 pint lemon or lime sorbet or sherbet

In a large bowl combine kiwi fruits, mangoes, strawberries, jalapeno pepper, mint, lime juice, and honey. Gently stir in raspberries. Serve immediately or cover and chill up to 4 hours. Serve over watermelon quarters with sorbet.  *Wear gloves when chopping jalapeno to prevent volatile oils from burning your skin and eyes

Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition facts: Servings Per Recipe 8, Calories 220, Protein (gm) 3, Carbohydrate (gm) 55, Fat, total (gm) 1, Dietary Fiber, total (gm) 4, Sugar, total (gm) 45, Vitamin A (IU) 2041, Vitamin C (mg) 83, Thiamin (mg) 0, Riboflavin (mg) 0, Niacin (mg) 1, Pyridoxine (Vit. B6) (mg) 0, Folate (µg) 32, Sodium (mg) 10, Potassium (mg) 541, Calcium (DV %) 40, Iron (DV %) 1, Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet