Running Fuel – What Should We Eat?

Is There a Perfect Diet for Runners?

Part of the challenge that I’ve been facing in this last year is related to my food intake as well as my activity.

Anyone who tries to convince you that you can lose weight and successfully get into shape without the use of a decent dietary plan is dead wrong.

[Trust me, I tried this and it did not work.]

Although I can hardly claim to be a professional nutritionist, I have found significant success using my current meal plan. Unless we’re trying to lose weight, we rarely consider the nutritional value of the foods that we put into our bodies on a daily basis. As a result, we can end up stuffing our systems full of too much sugar, carbs or fats – leading to a dangerous imbalance of substances and, inevitably, weight gain.

When you’re beginning your new running training schedule, the last thing you want is for your system to be blocked up by useless foods that are high in fats and sugars.

If you’re looking to build on your stamina, fitness and overall health, then you’ll need to feed your body the right mixture of food stuffs (as well as water) in order to give your body the nutrients it needs to fuel your runs, as well as recover afterwards.

There’s a whole wealth of information online that can determine what you should be eating and when. The amount of calories you need to be eating, depending on your current weight, height and hours of activity is important, but it’s also imperative that you take into consideration the type of calories that you’re ingesting as well.

All our bodies work differently – there’s no one dietary plan that we should all live by, but there are a few basic principles that we can follow that will put us on the right path.

Cut Out Snacks High In Sugar

Unless you’re midway through race day and are in dire need of a quick energy boost, you should try and avoid consuming foods that are high in sugars.

All these foods will give you is a short sharp jolt of energy, followed by an inevitable crash that will only serve to hamper your overall performance. If you’re looking for a healthy snack, that will benefit your times rather than damage them, try nuts or cereal bars for a healthier hit of carbs and protein.

Drink Plenty of Water

Although H2O should be an essential part of your day-to-day life, it should take an even more important role when it comes to your training regime.

The general recommendation often bandied about, in regards to how much water you should drink each day, is 2 litres a day. Although this might not sound like a whole load (I used to be able to drink twice that amount in beer most nights at University!), you’ll need to consume even more, if you intend on pounding out a decent hour-long run.

Protein Is Your Friend!

Foods that are high in protein are often the same foods that carry large quantities of fats.

However, if you choose wisely then you can plan wholesome post-run meals that can help boost recovery and restore tired muscles. My go to ingredients are lean chicken breasts, cottage cheese and eggs. I wouldn’t recommend combining those ingredients into a meal, but if you’re looking for a light evening meal then a grilled chicken salad is a a great option.

Disclaimer: If you’re looking to make changes to your current diet, don’t try and do too much all at once. Take out and replace pieces at a time, so your body can adjust slowly!