Nutrition for Runners with Dr. Mark Cucuzzella

Mark Cucuzzella
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In this episode of the MTA Podcast we bring you an in-depth and fascinating conversation with Dr. Mark Cucuzzella on the subject of nutrition for runners. And in the quick tip segment we share a mantra for your first marathon that takes the pressure off your finishing time.

Nutrition Interview with Dr. Mark Cucuzzella

Dr. Mark Cucuzzella is a board-certified physician in Family Medicine and Professor at West Virginia University School of Medicine. He is a two-time winner of the Air Force Marathon and has run a sub-3-hour marathon for 30 consecutive years. Dr. Mark has partnered up with SteadyMD, which provides online primary care doctors for runners, and he owns a running shoe store in Ranson, West Virginia.

This is the longest podcast episode we have ever released and the first episode we’ve recorded on site with our guest. Let us know what you think!

Dr. Mark invited me to visit the store after hearing that we live about 90 miles away. He’s a pretty cool dude who jumps on treadmills to give live demos and answers text messages from patients while wearing haunches sandals, shorts and a backwards hat. He looks like he just came back from a trail run.

It was interesting to see the running culture that has built up in Ranson -which is a town I’d never heard of previously. I got a tour of the store and then we went in to the back office to record. You might hear some background noise, since we were recording during business hours.

Running form clinic at Two Rivers Treads.

Mark is very passionate about nutrition and keeps up with the latest research and the conversation that is going on in the science community so it was fun to pick his brain. Additionally, he works through his local hospital to help patients get off medications and lose weight through diet and lifestyle change.

In this extended conversation you will hear why he changed his mind about diet and the science behind low carb eating along with the difference between insulin resistance versus insulin sensitivity.

You will also hear questions sent in by listeners regarding weight loss, fueling for marathons, when to go the traditional route for medical care, healthy snacks, knowing what diet works for you, and more.

Resources Mentioned in this Interview

Keep It Simple

It doesn’t have to be complicated! If you want to fix your insulin resistance? Cut out the GPS foods.

  • Grains
  • Potatoes
  • Sugars and starches

The Fat Adapted Eating Plan

The Fat Adapted Eating Plan -recipes and resources for cutting out sugars and grain from your diet.

2 years ago at work I asked for new uniform pants, however when they arrived they were WAY too small!! Today I just happen to try them on and they FIT!! Woo Hoo!! I am so excited!! Eating Fat Adapted has truly opened up a whole new world to me!! Thanks Angie for all the work and information you have put into the Fat Adapted Eating Plan!!! -Anne

Also Mentioned in This Episode

Generation Ucan -low carb fueling source for long distance runners. Use promo code MTAUCAN to save 15% on your next order.

SteadyMD. SteadyMD pairs you with a primary care doctor, online. A doctor who is a runner just like you and who really understands marathon training, proper running form, common running injuries, nutrition for runners, and much much more. Available to you via phone, text, and video chat, anytime. Go to to learn more and reserve your spot.

Thrive Market – Get $20 off your first 3 purchases (that’s $60 of FREE organic groceries + free shipping) when you used the link They are doing a drawing for a free $50 starter kit with lots of goodies. All you got to do is enter your email address when you visit the site.

Virtue Labs -a new haircare brand with a vision: To give everyone the best hair scientifically possible. Use the code MTA to try Virtue at 10% off, plus free shipping.

The MTA Virtual Half Marathon – challenge yourself by running 13.1 miles this November and get a one-of-a-kind medal and hat in the process!

18 Responses to Nutrition for Runners with Dr. Mark Cucuzzella

  1. Sandeep Singh October 2, 2017 at 4:59 am #

    Really enjoyed listening to this podcast. Lots of valuable information is provided in this podcast.

    • Trevor Spencer October 2, 2017 at 8:05 am #

      Thank you! We’re so glad you found it helpful.

  2. Gisele Le Chevallier October 3, 2017 at 2:29 pm #

    Amazing podcast!! I learned so much! I downloaded the Real Meal Revolution lists as soon as I was done (my heart sank when I saw oats, quinoa and buckwheat on the Red-“never ever” list, but hey the good news is all-you-can-eat cheese!!). Congrats to both you and Angie for putting such a great podcast together. I dream of hearing you guys mention me one day as in “Gisèle just completet her first Marathon woohooo!” I will be wohooing for sure. All the way from Norway. Thanks again and keep doing what you’re doing!

    • Trevor Spencer October 10, 2017 at 6:37 pm #

      Hi Gisele, we would love to give you a shoutout after you finish your first marathon! Smoked salmon and cheese . . . that’s what I ate at the Oslo airport. 😉

  3. MIKE P PURCELL October 4, 2017 at 12:53 pm #

    So I am starting to look into this some more, but it sounds a lot like Atkins. I am not sold on this line of thinking. I am all for clean eating, but the emphasis away from grains and into meat does not work for me.

    • Trevor Spencer October 10, 2017 at 6:41 pm #

      Thanks for the comment. Every person is an experiment of one when it comes to what works best for a healthy eating plan. So, if you know what your body responds to then stick to that.

  4. Shel October 5, 2017 at 9:02 pm #

    Loved the podcast! What’s your take on fruit for the non-diabetic runner. I have a hard time giving up my daily apple! Also– what is really considered “low carb”? Are we talking keto-low or would that be considered extreme?

    • Mark Cucuzzella October 15, 2017 at 7:51 pm #

      Shel each person is different you just want to teach your body to use fat as primary fuel. This takes time but once you develop the machinery you can add a bit more fruit back.

  5. Kristie October 6, 2017 at 2:08 pm #

    This was a very helpful episode. I asked my doctor for a lipid panel after listening to this, and I was encouraged by the results. I eat a mostly clean diet, though not as low in carbs as he suggests. A lot of good information to think about. I loved the long podcast format!

  6. Rochelle October 13, 2017 at 5:19 pm #

    Thank you so much for this episode. I’ve been a listener to your podcast since the very beginning (as in, “long time listener, first time commenter”) You inspired me to run my first marathon (in 2011) and I listened to you through training for my second one (2013). I’ve enjoyed following your journey into the low carb world and appreciated the introduction to UCAN products . I’ve been a believer in the “magic” of low carb for 15 years–it’s not for everybody, but it is for me (and my family). I’ve recently joined a wellness program at work and the dietitian just won’t stop pushing me to eating more grains and carbs. I’ve been looking for a way to explain it to her without giving her a stack of all the books I’ve read over the years. As I listened to your podcast on my run last weekend I kept thinking that *this* was what she needed to hear to understand how and why this works. I’ll be sending her a link and hoping she makes time for the education. I’m also shopping for a glucometer, as I’m intrigued to see what my numbers may be. Is there a brand you and/or Dr Cucuzzella recommend?

    • Mark Cucuzzella October 15, 2017 at 7:49 pm #

      thanks Rochelle. get a cheap ReliOn from Walmart . works great 9 bucks and cheap strips

  7. Rochelle October 13, 2017 at 10:26 pm #

    Just found the link above to the glucometer. Ordering mine now! Thanks for all you do for the running community.

  8. Karolyne November 11, 2017 at 11:39 pm #

    I”m very interested in trying to modify my diet and this podcast was a great way to start. I’ve now got the green list and will see how it goes. I went through menopause early and at 46 years old I feel tired often and just don’t feel strong in many of my long runs. I’m training for an 85km ultra. To top all that off I also can’t eat wheat without serious gi issues, so I can’t wait to see if this will be a step in the right direction for me! How much should I be changing for the rest of my family? I have 3 girls aged 8-13 and would like to clean out some of the sugar from their diets as well, but was wondering if I also should be cutting down on potatoes, rice and bread from their diets? Not too sure my husband would be pleased!

  9. Irena Ocasio December 21, 2017 at 8:51 am #

    Oatmeal and apples are the healthiest foods you can eat. Substituting them with cheese and bacon is as bad as it sounds. I believe in balance. You need to eat foods that make your body feel good, give you energy, keep your weight low and your immune system strong. I still believe in fat adaptation and do a lot of my runs on empty to develop that. It really does help in marathon running. No wall, no up and down swings. But why demonize healthy foods like oatmeal, apples, buckwheat, potatoes? I’m a 96 pound, 15% body fat runner who believes in eating everything. You need carbs, protein and fat. You also need a variety of vitamins and minerals. Fruit is extremely instrumental in immune system health. Why would you give that up? I know many runners who constantly get sick and therefore can’t continuously train. Not good. Healthy immune system is great indicator of your overall health. Apples, bananas, oranges and berries are a staple in my diet.

  10. Kayvon July 23, 2018 at 5:03 pm #

    Yo peeps,

    So nice podcast, but wasn’t this suppose to be about performance running and low carb diet??
    There was no evidence presented on low carb and run training. Does it effect race day performance? Are there certain distances that fatty acid as source of energy maximizes VO2 max, if any? Does mileage body habits or age effect FA utilization as a runners fuel source?
    How does a low carb runner who has been training for a marathon prepare for race day with carbs? Where is the evidence showing improvement on VO2 max with this “fat adopted,” diet?



  11. Rom November 5, 2018 at 1:42 pm #

    Great podcast.

    This is all confusing though. So according to Dr. Cucuzzella, we should not be doing carb loading before a race?
    Even runner’s world says to do this

    However, I am always one to listen to alternative viewpoints, and will make changes to my diet accordingly 🙂

  12. Derrick January 17, 2019 at 9:00 pm #

    What fuel source would a LCHF runner use for a marathon? I am not aware of any LC gels.

    • Trevor Spencer January 17, 2019 at 9:09 pm #

      Great questions! The best that we’ve found is Generation Ucan which we’ve used for years with great success. It’s also endorsed by Dr. Mark.

      Save 15% with the coupon code “MTASCOTLAND” at checkout.

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