Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Fat-Adapted Breakfast Recipe and A Reminder on Nutrition

I've been getting creative with UCAN in my breakfasts before a long run, starting to dial in what I'll eat race morning before my marathon. This one kicked ass:

UCAN Porridge
by Tawnee Gibson, MS, CSCS, CISSN
Holistic Health & Endurance Sports Coach


1 scoop of your favorite protein powder* (I like Mt. Capra’s Deep 30 Strawberry Splash** for this recipe)
1/2 cup(ish) shredded coconut
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 cup(ish) non-dairy milk 
Liberal shake of Ceylon cinnamon*** 
Dash of Himalayan salt (to taste)


In a regular-size cereal/soup bowl, mix the dry ingredients first breaking up any clumps from the powders. Add non-dairy milk, mix well, and let chia seeds absorb (at least 5 minutes). Add more milk if the porridge is still too dry or clumpy and/or if you prefer a more “soupy” bowl. Garnish with any fruit, nuts or seeds. No extra sweetener is needed unless desired.

*A vanilla flavored protein powder goes great with the tropical orange UCAN powder.
**Mt. Capra offers goat milk whey protein for those who may be sensitive to cow’s milk dairy.  

***Ceylon cinnamon, specifically, is shown in research to help lower and regulate blood sugar.

Tastes like a creamy tropical explosion, in a good way.


I had that about 90 minutes before starting my long run. Who knows, but it was one of the best long runs in a long time--not just the data but how I felt. I'm doing this thing prescribed by Maffetone himself, since he knows that I'm not a high-mileage gal, and I guess it's his way to tie in volume without putting one over the edge:

- walk ~20' 
- run 2:00-2:20ish, mainly @ MAF (me, I'm using a MAF range)
- walk another ~20-25'  

So you get in 3hr or more on your feet, without it being all running. We'll see how it pays off!

My running portion this past time was more than 2hr at an average 8:20 pace. Kept HR in 150s. If it crept up 160+ I would stop and walk. I also stopped several times as well regardless of HR to switch podcasts/music or check how my athletes were doing in races. Important business ;)

I felt strong and full of good energy, better than the last run for sure, and looking back at it, I am pretty pleased with those numbers considering my marathon goal is ~3:30-3:35. Given the HR being totally in check with the 8:20 avg on this long run, as long as I can suck it up to hand on in the last 10k of the marathon, I should be good.

Also, pre-run I had a Vespa, which is another new product I'm liking. That's the hornet juice in case you were wondering. And no I do not have a reaction to vespa due to my bee sting allergy (I was a little nervous the first time but it's all good whew). The vespa keeps you in good fat-burning mode and also gives more mental clarity even late into a workout, I find.

During this run I took in 1.5 L water and ~250 calories of a concoction of raw nuts/honey/coconut/sea salt (yes, I can eat solids like that when I run). It was more insurance rather than feeling ravenously hungry for calories. All that worked because I finished feeling just as strong as when I started.

Nutrition Lesson
On that note, my personal reminder in nutrition had to do with the bonk the weekend prior on my long run vs. success this past weekend. It got me thinking... The bonk coulda just been a fluke. It happens, and who knows? It doesn't happen often at all to me, so don't overthink it, right?

But I don't like that answer, so, a few things I was thinking: 

1) Fuel smart. Proper fueling for long and/or key runs is still important even for the fat-adapted athlete. Nutritionally, this doesn't mean you have to carb-load or force-feed yourself before workouts, just be sensible to your individual needs. Have the right fuels pre-workout and during that will allow for the quality and most the time aim fuels that will keep you metabolically efficient. That UCAN/Mt. Capra recipe nailed it for me. The weekend before when I bonked, I was not fasted or anything like that, but I ran at an odd time of day and had eaten but with less thought put into the meal. I think I set myself up for that bonk, made worse by not bringing emergency fuel just in case.... 

2) Terrain matters. Not sure if this is really reaching but hear my out. I know on trails I can easily run 2 hours with nothing but water. But lately, I've been doing these "long" runs on a flat/faster route specific to the marathon course so I am able to hold my faster paces nonstop for long durations, unlike hilly terrain where pace/effort is always changing. Running 2-3 hours flat and "fast" (even MAFish) is arguably harder on the body than hilly trails--physically, annnnd mentally ;) I feel the same way about cycling on flats vs. hills. Flat TTs are way harder than hilly courses IMO. That could play a role in how one burns through calories.

3) Recovery. The bonk didn't ruin me nor my pace/performance but it certainly didn't feel as good as the well-fueled run. Even more importantly, I could tell my recovery was worse after bonking too--it was super obvious in fact!

These concepts of bonking are nothing new to me, they're nothing new to exercise science, but they're a good reminder.


  1. Thanks for the information (as always). As a serial marathoner (one a month) I have been interested in seeing how the MAF plan is implemented for a marathon. I like the idea of walking before and after to get time on your feet without the pounding. When I was not marathoning as much I would do an hour bike ride after my big long runs to get my body use to going for the expected 4 hours of a marathon.

    I am wondering if the food you ate during the run was a MAF bar or just in a bag like a trail mix? I am trying to get away from Clif Bars and GU during a marathon but it has worked for 133 so it is hard to let go.

    Thanks for sharing the information. -Allie

    1. Hi Allie! Glad to hear you want to get away from Clif bars and gels - I think that's a smart call as a former consumer of both. The soy in Clif did not agree with my tummy. As for GU/gels, I think they can still be saved for "emergencies" especially deep into a race! Anyway... the concoction I had was actually a bar called a Simple Square, but it was crumbled into a baggie so kinda like a chunky/soft trail mix. Delish!

  2. Hi Tawnee, I think you should listen to the podcast below from RunnersConnect. Your view would be interesting.
    UCAN for Marathon Nutrition: A Review of the Research to See if it Really Works

  3. Hi Tawnee, thanks for the awesome recipe! I've had to force myself to choke down Ucan mixed only with water. Even the flavored ones were tough to get down. But this recipe makes it SO easy to take, and it's actually pretty darn tasty!