All the common-sense rules of healthy eating are even more important when you’re a keen runner. To keep your body constantly fuelled, you need to eat well and often, and stay hydrated. Prioritise slow-burning, energy-rich complex carbohydrates, such as wholemeal pasta, rice, cereals and breads; lean muscle-building sources of protein, such as chicken, fish, tofu, legumes, and at least five daily portions of fruit and vegetables.
In this article we’ll reveal everything about sound eating habits, race-day nutrition and sports supplements.
When you start a regular exercise routine, you need to make sure your diet is providing the necessary fuel to keep you healthy and enhance your running.
Eat Regular Meals
To keep your energy levels constant, establish regular eating habits-skipping meals can leave you tired, light-headed and more likely to over¬eat when you do sit down for a meal. Don’t leave more than four hours between meals and if you’re pushed for time, choose a smart snack.
Carbs are your muscles’ key source of energy and if you don’t eat enough you’ll feel listless. Carbs should make up around 55 to 65 per cent of your daily calorie intake – try to choose high-fibre ’complex’ versions, in other words, carbs that release energy slowly and constantly. These include oats and wholewheat pasta. When youre training for a big event such as a marathon, you may need to cartload to build up your energy reserves.
Timing Is Key
Top up energy and liquid levels before a run. Pre-run meals should be eaten two to three hours before to allow your stomach time to empty. Light snacks or liquid-only meals, such as a cereal bar or smoothie, are fine one to two hours before. Generally, the body has enough stored carbohydrate (glycogen) to fuel 90 minutes of continuous exercise but sports gels and sweets such as wine gums can provide a quick burst as you run.
Pack In Protein
Found in meat, poultry, pulses, dairy, fish and eggs, protein is essential for muscle repair and a vital component in the runner’s diet. Aim for 1.2-1.4g per kg of your body weight, each day. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you might find this more difficult but it is possible with the addition of tofu, nuts, seeds, beans and meat substitutes such as Quom.
Within 30 minutes of finishing a run, you need to replace lost energy and boost muscle repair – try a snack bar or sports drink. Within two hours, eat a meal. Dishes rich in carbs and protein boost energy and muscle repair-try a chicken sandwich, baked potato with beans or breakfast cereal with milk. Drink plenty of fluids and avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can dehydrate you.
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