Health $ Lifestyle

As Heinz tell runners to fuel themselves on KETCHUP – top athletes reveal the junk foods that keep them going during a race

  • Heinz’s latest advert campaign claims ketchup packets are similar to energy gels
  • Athletes have revealed they fuel themselves on waffles, brownies & frosting
  • READ MORE: Reducing salt intake by one teaspoon a day lowers blood pressure

Ketchup is the nation’s favorite condiment. And according to leading brand Heinz, it also serves an unexpected health use. 

A recent advert for the tomato sauce claimed, ‘runners everywhere are using Heinz ketchup packets on their runs.’

The company has even devised running routes in the shape of its logo in cities, including New York, highlighting restaurants where runners can grab a packet of ketchup on route.

While the condiment might seem like an unlikely running fuel, it contains two key components needed by runners: simple carbohydrates and salt. 

A recent video released by Heinz claimed that 'runners everywhere are using Heinz ketchup packets on their runs'

A recent video released by Heinz claimed that ‘runners everywhere are using Heinz ketchup packets on their runs’

The body breaks carbohydrates down into glucose, which is used to fuel muscles, and we lose salt (which contains vital minerals) when we sweat.

 However, dietitians have highlighted flaws in this method of fuelling: there’s too much salt in one pack, and you’d have to carry at least 15 packets with you, they say.

But top athletes, performing at their peak, have an array of alternative suggestions – which are equally as uncoventional.

And below, New-York based dietitian Cara Anselmo gives their verdict. 

Washington Nationals slugger Bryce Harper previously revealed that his pre-game snack is Eggo waffles.

He said: ‘I eat Eggo waffles. It has to be Eggo before the game. I mean, it’s really weird. PB [peanut butter] and honey. I’m really superstitious.’

Mountain bikers, runners and baseball players say that an array of junk food get them through races: from waffles to cinnamon roll Pop-Tarts

Mountain bikers, runners and baseball players say that an array of junk food get them through races: from waffles to cinnamon roll Pop-Tarts

Clare Gallagher, an ultrarunner and ambassador for clothing brand Patagonia, swears by frosting as a cost-effective way to keep up energy levels during a face.

‘I was completely disenchanted at the thought of buying 20-plus gels, and I am a sucker for frosting anyway. It occurred to me that I’d actually like the frosting better than gels,’ Ms Gallagher told Outside.

‘I hate to think my genius frosting idea was born out of me being cheap, but it really was just that,’ she added.

Ms Gallagher is now sponsored by Frost’d, a coconut oil–based frosting company started by fellow ultrarunner Jessica Hamel.

Cara Anselmo, a New York-based registered dietitian, said frosting is easy to consume on the go, with no chewing required. 

It is also good for a quick hit of energy, and the lack of fiber means it won’t make you need to use the toilet, she said.

Philadelphia Phillies' hitter Bryce Harper previously revealed his pregame snack is Eggo waffles

Philadelphia Phillies’ hitter Bryce Harper previously revealed his pregame snack is Eggo waffles

Dylan Bowman, another ultrarunner, opts for salted fudge brownies – ones that are made by his girlfriend.

Once upon a time, brownies were a treat for Mr Bowan, but leading up to a 50-mile race, he realized they would be good to eat in advance.

Over the course of his 20-mile race, he ate seven brownies – and ended up winning the race.

Ms Anselmo approved of Dr Bowman’s snack of choice, explaining that brownies contain quick, simple carbohydrates. Chocolate also gives a little dose of caffeine, which can help boost energy.

The salted element of the brownies also provides sodium and potassium for replenishing depleted electrolyte levels, she said.

Obstacle course racer Amelia Boone snacks on cinnamon roll Pop-Tarts before a race.

She told Outsider: ‘I ate one before the Spartan Race World Championships in 2013 and won the race… I actually find they sit really well in my stomach.’

Ms Boone also indulges during and after exercising. She said: ‘During races, I’ll eat gummy bears, baby-food squeeze pouches, and peanut M&M’s. After races, I house pints of ice cream; it’s the only thing I can eat for about 12 hours.’

Ms Anselmo said she also eats Pop-Tarts prior to a run, because they are a quick simple carb with no fiber to result in gas, bloating and diarrhea.

Mountaineer Sean Burch said that peanut butter gets him through an expedition.

He said: ‘I make sure we bring peanut butter because I don’t trust that I’ll be able to get it there. And I crave it. I look forward to eating it every single day.’

Ms Anselmo said that the spread is a good option for exercise because you don’t have to chew it, plus it’s packed with protein, which helps muscles repair after injury.

Phil Gaimon, a retired pro-cyclist, said he eats chocolate croissants during a race.

He said: ‘There wasn’t a moment in the race when I wasn’t counting down to unwrapping those things.

‘I remember a moment where I went nuts for ten minutes to pull back the breakaway on a climb at the Tour of Provence. So I started to eat the pain au chocolat, but I was out of breath, and then the descent was insane, but I wasn’t going to spit it out and waste it, so I did a 20-minute technical downhill just holding it in my mouth.’

Ms Anselmo said that a chocolate croissant is good fuel because it has both carbs and fat in it. 

Aaron Gwin, a Red Bull mountain bike racer, snacks on pancakes between rides.

He said: ‘I make a batch of pancakes at home in the morning, and then bag up two to six of them, depending on how much riding I’m doing that day. I make them pretty healthy, adding protein powder to the batter so I get all the nutrition I need.

‘They’ve gotten a little out of control the more that I keep adding ingredients—things like sweet potatoes, bananas, peanut butter powder, and oats—but I dig them.’ 

Ms Anselmo said pancakes have ‘carbs galore’, while added protein is good for muscle recovery after a workout.

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