Runners need to think of food as fuel. Just like you want to put high-quality gasoline into a sports car, you need high-quality fuel to make your engine run well! Of course, you should enjoy treats occasionally; however, runners may benefit from following some basic nutritional guidelines when it comes to a runner’s diet.
Do I Need to Eat More?
On the one hand, you may be burning extra calories while training. When training for a marathon, for example, you could burn a lot of calories while off on a 20 miler. Yes, your body will need some extra fuel. No, your body does not need an entire cake to compensate for the calories you burned.
If you plan adequately, you are taking in fuel while running and have thoughts on how to get yourself quickly refueled immediately after your run. A post-run recovery meal should have both protein and carbohydrates. If you think about what you plan to eat and drink within that important thirty-minute window after your run, you are less likely to fall victim to the garbage disposal mentality.
Looking To Lose Weight?
People mistakenly think that they should just start running to lose weight. Expecting the pounds to magically melt off is a misconception. Sure, running burns calories. Certainly, it is an excellent form of exercise. However, other things are also true.
Running may give you the rungries. What are the rungries? It’s where you end a run feeling ravenously hungry and make all sorts of dietary mistakes. One way to lose weight while properly fuel your body to exercise is by eating more whole foods.
The 80/20 Rule
Following the 80/20 rule is an excellent way to find balance in your diet. Some people refer to 80/20 in regards to eating nutritionally sound food 80% of the time. In the context used here, think about food in its most natural form. In other words, eat whole foods, or food as it naturally exists, at least 80% of the time. The other 20% you can eat packaged food or foods in a more processed form.
A diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and grains in their natural form will help fuel your body properly for best practice nutrition and should promote weight loss.
Must Haves For a Runner’s Diet Shopping Cart
Did you know that oranges have more than your recommended daily dose of vitamin C? Even the orange peel is helpful to your body, as the zest has important antioxidant qualities. Use a small grater to get some of the zest from the peel and use it in cooking to reap the benefits.
Salad greens are a healthy food item essential to any diet, the brighter colored the better. Most people just think salads, but you can add greens to any sandwich, or as a side to lean meats. Raw spinach and kale can be thrown into your daily smoothie to get an extra kick of greens without even realizing it.
When choosing lean meats, salmon or chicken are excellent choices. Supplying an excellent source of protein with additional Omega 3 fats, salmon is super good for you. Chicken is another great source of lean protein and dark meat is particularly good for muscle recovery.
Sweet potatoes are a perfect carbohydrate for runners and others. Loaded with beta-carotene and vitamin A, they are natural antioxidants. They are also exceptional fuel before long runs and hard workouts. If you prefer to fuel with real food instead of packaged items, boiled, lightly salted sweet potatoes can be cut into chunks and used for long run fuel. Also a good source of Vitamin C and potassium, these little miracle workers can help to stave off cramps!
Whole grains can be consumed as cereal, in other foods like soups, and made into bread. When choosing bread or pasta products just try to be sure you aren’t consuming white flour products for maximum health benefits.
Veggies are a clear good choice and you should try to eat the brightest colored veggies you can. If your plate is looking brown and bland, you aren’t doing it right. You should also never throw produce in the trash. If you have vegetables getting near the end of their life, clean it up and pop it in the freezer for use later in soups or stir fry.
Mixed Berries are full of vitamins and are a low-calorie healthy snack. You can freeze them for use in smoothies or to put in yogurt for some extra flavor! Again, focus on including all the colors of the rainbow into your daily diet!
Dark Chocolate is the perfect treat to curb your craving for a sweet something. The healthier alternative to milk chocolate, dark chocolate is actually good for you! Another powerful source of antioxidants, dark chocolate can also help you lower your blood pressure! Do you need any other reasons to add some to your shopping list?
Runner’s Diet and Carb Loading
Most runners know a thing or two about carb loading, but if you need a brush-up lesson visit this blog about Carb Loading for Runners. You should start taking between 75-80 percent of your calories in through carbohydrates for two to three days before the big race. This will help you prepare to fuel your body for an endurance race.
In addition, you need to give thought to pre-race meals (Race Day Breakfast) to be sure you try things out before race weekend. The old adage nothing new on race day extends to food also! This includes breakfast and the fuel you plan to use on the course!
Proper Food + Training = Race Day Success
If you put in the work to prepare for your big race day, it makes sense to also put time and energy into your diet. Looking at your body and treating it like a well-oiled machine is a mindset you want it to be will translate into a better probability of race day success.