top of page

The five worst foods for your brain

Minute 1: Control your output for sustainable improvement

Sometimes in life, you’re the tortoise, and sometimes you’re the hare. If you want to win a race, at some point you need to shed the advice of the fable and run like a hare. On the other hand, slow and steady progress is the way to prevail long term. That is the preferred training method for elites like Eliud Kipchoge and Molly Seidel, and you can read why here: “Consistency and control: the keys to success in running.” Both pros report doing about 80% of their mileage at a very easy pace. Some hard workouts are necessary in training, but you should only be pushing yourself to the limit occasionally. Otherwise, you’ll overexert your body and do more harm than good come race day. To make the most of your slower days, take a look at these “3 Rules for Easy Runs.” Since your muscles need between 30 to 60 hours to fully repair, it makes sense to buffer each hard workout with at least 1 or 2 days of recovery runs. We get it, slow runs aren’t the most exciting way to work out, but if you need help getting through them, consider listening to a podcast and audiobook as you go to keep your mind stimulated. Reserve the pump up jams for your faster runs where you need that extra motivation.

Minute 2: Should you ignore unsolicited advice at the gym?

If we had a dime for every time we received free advice at the gym, we would sweat our overpriced membership dues. Even if the advice is good, it might not be in line with your goals, or perhaps you prefer to learn by experience instead. In any case, it's good to know how to deflect what you don’t want to hear, and figure out when a nugget of info is actually golden. For some ideas, check out: “What to Do If Somebody Gives You Unsolicited Advice at the Gym.” Of course, if a staff member or fellow gym-goer lets you know you’re not making use of a machine’s safety feature, that’s a no brainer -- thank them and make the adjustment. On the other hand, if someone offers tips on your form, or suggests a better way to work out, a good rule to follow is to ask yourself, “Would I seek this person out for advice if I had a question?” If the answer is yes, because they’re a coach or a highly experienced individual, then you should hear them out. If they’re someone with a similar experience level as yourself, you’ll probably want to do your own research before you make a change. In that case, it’s best to reply with something polite and simple, like “Thanks, I'll consider it.” If you want to avoid some common errors at the gym, and hopefully curb those unwelcome pointers, check out “8 of the most common mistakes everyone makes in the gym.”

Minute 3: The best and worst foods for brainpower

Most of the folks in our friend group spend more time thinking about fueling their bodies than fueling their brains. That’s a little like using high octane gas in your car but never checking the power steering fluid. Our noggin steers our body, of course, and it must be maintained properly, too. If you want to know what not to eat to avoid any cognitive decline, check out “The 5 Worst Foods for Brain Health.” First on the list is commercial baked goods. They've got lots of added sugars, which increase inflammation. More inflammation means a worse mood and limited ability to focus. Also, look out for highly processed foods which contain lots of simple carbohydrates. They’ll also cause your blood sugar levels to spike without the fiber to balance things out. Simple carbs and a lack of fiber have been linked to depression, among other health concerns. See this article for details: “Science Finds Simple Way to Lower Diabetes, High Blood Pressure Risk: Fiber.” The next one gets complicated: Alcohol has been shown to be cognitively protective over time, but only when consumed in moderation. That means no more than 1 to 2 drinks a day. On the other hand, those who drink more than 14 drinks a week will be at greater risk for dementia. Enough of the bad news, let's focus on beneficial food. What the brain loves is fat, and certain oils make an excellent source. Read this to learn your best options: “The American Heart Association Just Shared That This Is the Best Type of Cooking Oil for Cardiovascular Health.” If you want something to facilitate brain function without sacrificing heart health, olive oil or sunflower oil is the way to go. With its high smoke point, sunflower oil is the best choice for searing steaks or other high temp foods.

Minute 4: Have you tried weighted running?

Pressure makes diamonds, and we suppose that’s the general idea behind weighted running. When used correctly and in a limited capacity, adding weight while you run can be beneficial. For details, see “Should You Run with Weights? Running With Weights in Backpack.” The first question we’ve got to answer is: Why add weights in the first place? By increasing the demand on your body, you’re able to strengthen bones and ligaments beyond their normal capacity. That can lead to a higher top speed and better posture over time. You’ve got to be strategic about the way you approach it, though, or else you risk injury. Long runs aren’t the best place for weights, as the repeated wear on your joints and high possibility of a rolled ankle or other injury outweigh the benefits. Instead, consider using weights for a hill or interval workout; something short and sweet. Additionally, you’ve got to be careful about where you add the weight. Running with a heavy backpack is a popular option, but it can disrupt your natural form. Adding weight to the ankles, or holding dumbbells as you run is a far less invasive technique. Weighted running can be hugely beneficial, but you should understand the risks and safety precautions before you try it yourself. For that, see “Is Running With Weights Safe? Experts Weigh In.”

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • What the duck is that? No, we haven’t been autocorrected, we’re just confused. And enamoured. Wrinkle the Duck got our vote for cutest NYC Marathon participant, and all the proof we needed was a short clip from her owner. Wrinkle trotted down the streets of NYC at a faster pace than you might expect. See for yourself here: “People can’t get enough of this duck running in the NYC marathon - shoes and all.”

  • Coffee continues to prove itself as a wonderful but complicated beverage. 1 or 2 cups a day can bring health benefits and a boost in productivity, but overreliance on the drink has its downsides. Now, a recent study has found a link between metabolites associated with coffee consumption and a higher instance of kidney disease. That doesn’t mean you should cut out coffee altogether, but if you’re someone at risk for kidney disease in the first place, it’s something to consider. See the details in “Drinking Too Much Coffee Could Lead to This Serious Side Effect, New Study Says.”

  • About 60% of the body is made up of water. Despite this, dehydration, or at the very least, suboptimal levels of hydration can be quite common. Ultra runners often rely on the color of their urine to determine hydration levels and kidney health. (See the helpful chart in: “What does the color of your urine tell you?”) Stopping to examine urine shades isn’t always practical, of course. That’s where this new story on the warning signs of dehydration comes in handy: “How Do I Know if I Am Hydrated?”

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

Unfortunately, knee pain is as much a part of running as hill repeats and humble bragging. There’s nothing like a bit of knee pain to bring an otherwise productive week of training to a grinding halt. We are always on the lookout for solutions to this problem and liked the simplicity of this set of exercises from Yana Strese, a German running coach, medical PT and ASICS-sponsored athlete.Find yourself a set of stairs, grab a resistance, band, and get to work trying to prevent and/or recover from knee pain.


bottom of page