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/FootBalance Eat to Run: Nutritional Tips for Runners

We have covered a number of posts in our Spring running tips, from helping runners get back into running in our first post all the way to dealing with the changing weather conditions in our fourth post. In this post we have compiled some essential nutritional tips for runners.

“Eat to run, don’t run to eat.”  Focus on nutrition that will fuel your running

Plan your meals

Analyse your diet and create a meal plan that you can stick to, which will suit your lifestyle. It is important to review what you are eating now and how that measures up to the exercise regime you have.  Ask yourself questions like are you getting enough variety and nutrition in your food? When do you run and do you feel hungry by the time you run? The tips on the type of food you should be eating noted below will assist you.

Eat right, Eat often & don't skip the main meals

Research shows that eating little and often is best for runners… as long as you’re eating the right things!
Frequent snacking throughout the day is a sure way to avoid low blood sugar levels and tiredness by the time you get home for your run. Avoid high-fat snacks such as crisps and chocolate, opting instead for high-carbohydrate and low-fat snacks, which make the best fuel. Remember proper meals are very important to eat, so do not skip breakfast or other meals. Eating proper meals is where the carbohydrates really count. Some high-carbohydrate foods are also high in fat so review the Runner's World training guide below to assist you.

A balanced diet for healthy runners should include these essentials: carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals. The top two food sources would be carbohydrates and protein.

As a runner, carbohydrates should make up about 60 - 65% of your total calorie intake. Without a doubt, carbs are the best source of energy for athletes. Research has shown that for both quick and long-lasting energy, our bodies work more efficiently with carbs than they do with proteins or fats. Whole grain pasta, steamed or boiled rice, potatoes, fruits, starchy vegetables, and whole grain breads are good carb sources.

Protein is essential for both tendon and muscle repair. Proteins are also essential for regulating hormones. The more often you run and the further distance you cover, the more repair work there will be for your muscles. An easy guide to remember is that if you are running a great distance you will need up to 1.5 grams of protein for every kilogram that you weigh. So if you weigh 140 pounds, or 64 kilos, you will need about 96 grams of protein daily. Your protein should be high quality and preferably lean, such as chicken, tofu, eggs, nuts, or fish, if you are also trying to shed a few pounds. For those runners who do not have a weight problem, low fat protein will not be a concern.

Of course there are low in saturated fats and cholesterol. Foods such as nuts, oils, and cold-water fish provide essential fats called omega-3s, which are vital for good health and can help prevent certain diseases.

We came across a great training guide that explains everything a runner would need to know about nutrition produced by Runners World: Runner's World Training Guide Nutrition for Runners

Also let's not forget hydration

Drink more water

Drinking water obviously is important so make sure you drink throughout the day a pint of water (or a sports drink) an hour before you run, and half a pint for every 30 minutes of running. Make sure you drink twice as much water on the day you run and if you are taking part in a competition make sure to take note of where the drink stations are and practice the art of drinking on the run.

Boost your running performance and health by eating the right foods at times best suited to your runs. Next up we will review what is good to eat before and after your run session depending on the strenuousness of your run.

Sources:

About.com: Runners Diet

Runners World: Nutrition Basics

Active.com: Nutrition Tips for New Runners