As a running enthusiast I can now appreciate the need for a quality runners diet. In past years I would set off on a daily jog and pay less attention to the nutritional fuel I was putting into my body. I assumed that the individual elements that I was consuming could not make that big of a difference.
This is where I made a major mistake and hopefully I can help prevent you from making the same type of mistake with your runners diet.
If you really want to be at the top of your running game you need to have a diet plan that will promote optimum health and give you the energy and endurance that peak running performances require.
Every athlete should realize that hydration and a nutrition rich diet are both key factors that will deliver maximum performance when you need it most.
Here are a few sensible ideas that you should incorporate into your runners diet plan. Are you running to lose weight? A healthy, balanced runners diet is important for every runner.
Are you training for a marathon or an even longer distance? Don’t forget to read about these specific marathon training diet guidelines.
Loading With Carbs
Most sportsminded individuals recognize the healthy value of carbohydrates. These easily digested foods provide quick fuel for energy. This is why most runners diets suggest that you load up on carbs before a major event. Complex and simple carbohydrates should both be on your menu.
Although many dedicated runners add pasta to their daily diet there are many other carb rich foods that you can enjoy. Check out products such as brown rice, quinoa and spicy couscous. These have similar carb density value and they add much needed variety to your menus.
Heavy On The Protein
Try to allow for a daily food intake that includes 15% protein. You can select protein rich foods such as almonds, legumes, fish, eggs and whole grains.
Serious marathon runners need to follow a diet that provides them with .5-.75 gms of quality protein/per each pound of normal body weight.
Make sure to follow the running magazine tips as well. In these magazines you can find a lot of useful information about nutrition and hydration for runners.
Choose Unprocessed Over Refined Foods
Making sure that unprocessed foods provide the bulk of your diet is a ‘no-brainer’. Runners and other athletes require the nutritional support of whole grains, fruits, veggies, seafood and proteins.
When you want to be able to have a power run you need to make sure that you eat the right types of food before, during and after the run.
If your run is going to last 60-90 minutes, or longer you should replace some of the calories and fluids that you are going to lose.
Sensible eating habits will make all the difference in the quality of your run. If you want to get the maximum results and benefits from your regular runs then search for the top foods that should be part of ever serious runners diet.
Snack foods can be a runners best friends but only if you realize which healthy snacks should be included in your menu. You can think about;
-Low fat, plain yogurt and fresh fruit
-Apples or bananas (add a teaspoon of peanut butter)
-Grapes and raisins
-Cereal or energy bars
Spacing Your Run And Timing Your Meal
Runners should plan to eat and drink at least 1 ½-2 hours prior to their run. This practice gives your body time to digest and process the nutrients. (If your run will take you an hour or less then you do not have to follow this rule.)
This sport is intense and you do not want to starve your body beforehand. There needs to be enough nutritional fuel aboard so your body will have some energy reserves that can be used.
Healthy Hydration Helps You Stay On Track
Proper hydration could be the most important rule on which to base a runners diet. You need to drink 8-10 ounces of water upon waking up in the morning. This will help you begin countering any normal dehydration that takes place while you sleep.
Approximately 1-1/2 hours before the running event see if you can drink at least 8-10 ounces of water. 16-20 ounces of water will be even healthier. Make sure that you drink another 4-10 ounces of water shortly before you begin running. This hydration for your runners diet can even come from a sports and energy drink.
You should try to drink more fluid at every 30 minute checkpoint during your run. It is a good idea to use products such as Gatorade or other beverages that offer electrolyte replacements. This will prevent you from developing sodium depletion.
Some runners will drink fluids more frequently to maintain their body’s hydration but every 30 minutes should be the minimum, especially when you are planning a long distance trek that will extend over 90 minutes or more.
Getting Ready To Run
When an intensive speed workout or marathon event is in your future you need to make sure that your runners diet includes ideas for small (325-550 calorie), carb-heavy meals. If you are going to eat this meal 2-3 hours ahead of the run you might choose two or three items from the following foods;
-Whole wheat bagel or pita bread with 2 tablespoons of organic peanut butter
-Keep the calorie count at a lower level (150-300) if you have less than an hour to prepare for your run
-One cup of yogurt
-A slice of toast with 1 tablespoon of organic peanut butter
These tips should help you create a runners diet that is very similar to the one I use. These hydration tips and food combinations will give you the power, performance and energy that you need to reach the finish line each and every day.
Are you interested in reading more about this topic? I would definitely recommend to give Matt Fitzgerald’s book Runner’s World Performance Nutrition for Runners a try.