Ultramarathoner Stephanie Howe shares her simple secrets for superb nutrition
- As an ultramarathoner and nutrition consultant, Stephanie Howe lays out her guidelines for eating to win—and enjoy.
Stephanie Howe likes to eat. Most nights during the summer she powers down ice cream. (Coffee chocolate-chip is the go-to.) She indulges in dark chocolate. She consumes croissants and pumpkin pie. And in honor of National Doughnut Day, she whipped up a batch of fried dough circles covered with strawberries.
This fare is notable mostly because the 33-year-old from Bend, Ore., is a champion ultramarathoner with a Ph.D. in nutrition and exercise science. She also runs her own nutrition consulting business that advises clients on both everyday noshing and fueling for exercise.
"The most important thing is to eat food that's familiar," Howe says. For a training run or a 5K race—anything under a half marathon—Howe recommends sticking with a reasonable dose of basic carbs. Something like a bagel with peanut butter, or oatmeal with nuts and brown sugar, will do the trick. Because most people have enough stored glycogen for about 90 minutes of activity, there's no need to overdo it.
For big races—like the Western States 100.2-mile endurance run, which Howe won in 2014, and the Lake Sonoma 50-miler, at which she set a course record in '15—the intake becomes more scientific. Before an event Howe avoids the stereotypical pasta carbo-load, instead eating salmon or steak over white rice, with avocado and a side of sweet potatoes. During such races Howe suggests ingesting 300 calories an hour in simple sugar, usually in the form of glucose. She gulps Clif Shots, which are made by one of her sponsors, but a powdered sports drink works well, too.
For those not looking for a workout-specific meal but rather a more healthy way to eat, Howe suggests keeping it simple. "I eat when I'm hungry, and I stop when I'm full," she says.
The most successful dieters, she adds, don't overthink it; they also avoid a restricted plan that demonizes food. What's left is a more realistic regime. "Think of your diet as the foods you choose to eat," she says. "It doesn't mean you can eat whatever you want, but it means filling your body with quality ingredients. Eat, then go on with your day rather than agonize over it."
Have your doughnuts and eat them too
Indulge in Stephanie Howe's delicious and healthy strawberry doughnut.
1 cup spelt flour
¼ cup coconut sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt (or two!)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried lavender, ground
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon butter
3 strawberries, chopped
1 strawberry for garnish
Melted chocolate (2 tablespoons coconut oil, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 tablespoon cocoa powder)
Coconut oil, for frying
Mix dry ingredients and set aside. Whisk egg, buttermilk and vanilla together. Stir in melted butter. Combine above ingredients and mix in the chopped strawberries last.
Bake at 350° for 12--13 minutes in doughnut pan. Allow to cool. Add 2 tablespoons of coconut oil to a frying pan. Fry the doughnuts one at a time, about a minute per side. Drizzle with chocolate and top with strawberry slices.