As a runner, you might be wondering what exactly is the right nutrition for you? What are the different food groups to include in your diet and what to avoid? Since this is the most bewildering question for all the new runners, we have an entire article explaining the right nutrition, timing to maintain good health and also to improve your performance on the track. Understanding the nuances of nutrition, training, hydration, timing helps in optimizing the performance of your running and can help you look at running in a different light.
It’s the general rule of thumb that you should neither be starving nor stuffed up before a run
It’s the general rule of thumb that you should neither be starving nor stuffed up before a run, as either of them could lead to annoying side effects like side stitches, cramps. Running out of energy because of starving is another consequence of the action.
How important is the timing of the meal before the run?
The Sports Journal has mentioned the optimal timing of carbs consumption as one of the prime factors for peak running performance. With a heavy deliberation and research, it is published that a light meal could be consumed an hour or so before the run. You could also quickly grab a small snack within the 30-minute duration. Since everybody is different, so is the need, so feel free to experiment with timings and meals and figure out what works for you the best.
Let’s now discuss what to eat and what food groups you could avoid for an effective run.
Food groups to include:
- Whole grains like slices of bread, pasta
- Low fat yogurt
- Peanut butter
- Lean protein source like eggs
- Fresh fruits like bananas, berries
- Nuts like almonds, walnuts
Food groups, you could avoid
- Beverages like juice with preservatives and sugar
- Spicy food or meal
- High-fibre vegetables
- Legumes or beans
- Lactose enriched items
Understanding all the different food, nutrient groups is the key to a healthy and successful runner’s body and performance. There are some essential pillars in a runner’s diet: Carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals.
This is the best fuel source for athletes. According to research from International Journal for Sports nutrition 60-65% of the total calories should come from a carbohydrate source for the runners. These provide a very quick boost of energy to sustain all through the run than any other nutrient groups. You could include potatoes, starchy vegetables, fruits, bread, pasta in your diet.
This nutrient group serves energy required to repair the tissue damage that occurs through the training. The protein when consumed in adequate amounts keep you full and also aid in losing weight in a healthy way. According to USDA, 10-35% of one’s calorie intake should come from a protein source. So if you are a long distance runner you should at the last consume 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of your body weight. It is also important to note that you choose protein sources that are low in fat like eggs, fish, low fat dairy products for better results.
Healthy fats are essential nutrients to one’s body and you need to always choose essential fat sources like nuts, fish which also contain the omega 3 that is vital in preventing many diseases. For a runner, 20-35% of the total diet should come from healthy fat sources.
Vitamins and minerals
These are not essentially used to provide with more energy or act as a fuel source but rather help in neutralizing the free radicals that are produced during intense exercises like running. Calcium, iron, sodium along with electrolytes are extremely important to make up for all the sweat and energy lost during the exercise. Finding natural sources for getting these vitamins and minerals will help improve your overall performance.
Foods to consume pre-run
It is highly important to note that the food you consume before a run is extremely light yet filling and does not slack your overall performance. This is the major reason why carbohydrates remain a popular choice among runners. It could be as simple as bread with peanut butter, oatmeal, bananas, a protein bar.
Foods to consume mid-run
This might not always be necessary but if you are a long distance runner, there is a necessity for you to recharge the glycogen in your body and the most popular choice mid-run is a sports drink. These are very high in electrolytes and take care of the hydration and also provide with necessary vitamins and minerals which could keep you going. Other options for mid-run snacks include bananas, grapes, energy bars.
Food to consume after-run
This choice could be individualistic in accordance with your goals. If you are trying to lose weight, it is important to opt for low fat choices and if you are looking to build muscles you could opt for high protein choices. Hydration is significant after a long run so be sure to replace all of the lost fluids with water.
How important is hydration in your running journey?
The amount of water you need depends totally on many factors like the hours you spend running, your sweat rate and hence always a personalized approach helps. Drinking before the run is important and being fully hydrated might seem an easy task but it really isn’t. Most of the runners get tired easily because of the lack of proper hydration.
So there you have it, a complete guide on nutrition that could help you get through your pre/mid and post running schedules of yours. T might be very intimidating to start running all of a sudden. But with proper knowledge, diet, training, and postures you could have a pleasant running experience devoid of any injuries. Go ahead, put on your running shoes, drink enough water, and start running, because everything you need to know is right here.