A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Book Review: Eat to Peak: Sports Nutrition for Runners and Triathletes

on March 26, 2015
I’ve had a run of book reviews lately, haven’t I? I guess that means I’m doing a good job with one of my goals for year: making more time for my love of reading! This book was sent to me by a fellow Sweat Pink Ambassador to review (book provided free to me, all opinions are my own) and I am so glad I got the chance to see it! I wish I’d had it to read when I first started running and was trying to figure out all of this nutrition madness. The book is “Eat to Peak: Sports Nutrition for Runners and Triathletes” by Chrissy Carroll, MPH, RD and I cannot recommend it enough.
Eat to Peak coverEat to peak back cover

I confess, when I was first starting out, I likely would have been intimidated by the title of this book and assumed it was for “real athletes,” not an overweight, almost middle aged mom jogger like me. If you’re thinking that as well, A) we are real athletes! and B) this book is great for any and all levels of runners. It seriously answers every question I’ve had about food and running, from what I should eat as part of my daily diet to how I should fuel workouts versus races to recovery foods. Even better, all of that information in wrapped up in well-written, easy to follow language that explains the science (and cites the science if you’re a geek like me who wants to check out the research papers). There are also tons of real-world examples of what that science translates to, in terms of your own diet.

The book is divided into several sections, with an introductory “common questions” that explains some of the basis of the book, like why the focus is on everyday fueling, why kilograms instead of pounds, how she chose the science and other things. The first section focuses on nutrition basics, walking you through how to figure out how many calories you need based on your weight and whether or not that weight is right for you (beyond just BMI). It also discussed the various macromolecules, like carbohydrates, fat and protein, and what those do for us, how much we really of each and what the healthiest options are for inclusion in our daily diets. There are lots of examples of how to use these healthy foods, especially helpful if you’re trying to introduce a new type of whole grain or a new veggie and aren’t sure what to do with it. This section also includes micronutrients, like vitamins and minerals, with a balanced discussion of good food sources as well as guidance on supplementation.

The middle section covers a lot of the questions I had about training when I first started as a runner. What does adequate hydration look like? How do I get electrolytes and how many do I need? How do I navigate that giant wall of energy gels and drinks and waffles at the running store? She walks through hydration and electrolytes, pre-exercise meals and fueling during exercise, with recommended amounts based on the workouts and your size and examples of what a 230 gram carbohydrate meal for fueling 3-5 hours before exercise (for example) might look like. I have that page flagged for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon in November! My favorite part of the whole book is the section where she walks through the many options for fueling during workouts, from drinks to gels to chews to real food to bars, with pros and cons and nutritional information for each. She does a great job walking through factors to consider when you’re deciding what to try, because different things will work better for different people depending on the type of workout, your size, your stomach, how much you sweat, etc. There’s also a great overview of recovery nutrition, with crucial advice on how much your really need (because many of us tend to over-reward ourselves post workout in the name of recovery!).

The last section on Hot Topics included lots of interesting little tidbits about coconut water, paleo diets, beetroot juice, caffeine and lots of the other things I see tossed around on social media. She does a great job explaining the theoretical benefit of those things as well as what (if anything) is actually proven about these trends. I really appreciate that the whole attitude of this book is realistic, proven nutrition advice and not fad-driven opinions.

An example of the TL;DR summary of the caffeine hot topic

An example of the TL;DR summary of the caffeine hot topic

The appendix at the back of the book made me wish I’d gotten the paper copy rather than the e-book because it made my fingers itch for a pencil to start doing the math! (Don’t worry – there’s a link to a website where you can print the worksheets!) There are worksheets for calculating your BMI and your calorie needs (based on the science discussed earlier in the book), as well as your macronutrient needs. Plus, there’s a food log, a training and fuel log to use while you’re experimenting with your optimal nutrition and hydration and cheat sheets for exercise fueling. The appendix is a great resource for translating everything you read in the previous 200 pages into your real world.

Sample worksheet for pre-exercise meals, depending on how long you're eating before you run - saving this for Wine & Dine training!

Sample worksheet for pre-exercise meals, depending on how long before you run that you’re eating  – saving this for Wine & Dine training!

Overall, I really loved this book. It’s a great resource for anyone who wants to fuel their runs for better performance or wants to better manage their weight (be it maintenance or loss) and overall nutrition while running safely and effectively or even if you just have a general interest in nutrition. Don’t be intimidated by the idea of nutrition for athletes – we’re all athletes if we’re hitting the road. Also don’t let the triathlete part throw you off. While there are tips scattered throughout specific for the particular needs of a triathlete, the focus is on a broader nutritional scope so I never felt like “this section doesn’t apply to me.” Each chapter includes a “Too Long; Didn’t Read” (TL;DR) summary of the high points, but I found myself really reading each section because it was just such an interesting blend of science and real world practicality and not just a recitation of the same “nutrition” blurbs we see over and over in health and fitness magazines.

This book is definitely going on my “Recommended” list for my runner friends who are interested in improving their nutrition to fuel their running. Thanks to Chrissy for sharing it with me! If you check it out and like it as much as I have, be sure to drop by Amazon and / or Goodreads to give her some reviews to help her out.

Have you read any sports nutrition books you’ve enjoyed? Do share!

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8 responses to “Book Review: Eat to Peak: Sports Nutrition for Runners and Triathletes

  1. This sounds almost identical to the Racing Weight book I have been reading. I also learned a lot from it!

  2. Chrissy says:

    So happy you enjoyed the book and found it helpful! Thanks for your review Jess 🙂

  3. […] not an excuse to go completely carb-crazy, so I’ll need to review the nutrition tips in Eat to Peak again to be sure I’m optimally prepared for race day. These articles on Zelle about How to […]

  4. […] days. First, I turned to “Eat to Peak”, which is a great nutrition book that I reviewed here earlier this […]

  5. […] your running better, manage your weight and get a better understanding of nutrition, I think both Eat to Peak and Racing Weight are better choices, particularly Eat to Peak (my reviews of both through the […]

  6. […] requires a lot of attention to nutrition as a whole. I’m also re-reading Racing Weight and Eat to Peak this month to refresh my nutrition basics for training and to make a […]

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