How Do I Boost My Performance Naturally?

by Darragh

I train six times a week and might be running for my country next year if everything goes right (hopefully)...
Now I eat well and drink water a lot!! I take lots of carbs and stuff. Is there anything I can add to my diet to help me improve??

Thanks, all the best,

Answer by Dominique:

Hi Darragh,
Thanks for your question. A good diet can make a difference in the life of a runner. I do not know anything about supplements and I think (if you were to consider these) that you need to be really careful with these, they can often do more harm than good. E.g. too many protein supplements can damage your liver and kidneys.
However, there are a few ground rules if you want your diet to be optimal for your running:

1) Avoid all the obvious junk foods, candy, alcohol, caffeine, etc.

2) Balance well between carbs, fat and protein.
As a runner you need plenty carbs, low fat and not too much protein. They say that a general good mix is 60 percent of your calories coming from carbohydrates, 25 percent from fat, and 15 percent from protein.

Why carbs?
In short more carbs mean more glycogen. This is the efficient source of energy that you can run on until you run out of it. Be careful with carbohydrates because they come in different ways: simple and complex.
Complex carbs are in pasta, bread, cereal, vegetables etc and those are the ones you after.

Why fat?
Although not much, you still need a bit of fat for energy and flavour in your diet. You will find that the fats in your "healthy foods" cover your requirements. Some oils, like olive oils have good fats in them (unsaturated fats) which help reduce blood cholesterol.

Why protein?
Protein builds your body. It helps repair your bones and tissue, your hair, nails, etc. But take too many proteins and the excess proteins will turn into fats which is what you do not want.

When considering all of the above, do not go completely crazy, measure everything to the last gram and keep to the exact percentages. It would drive you crazy and it would not make much sense to do so. Every person is different. The above is an average, a generalisation which may not be optimal for you. Just make sure your diet contains lots of healthy foods.
And possibly also important: in case you do give in and treat yourself to some junk food... do not think it is the end of the world. As long as you keep it restricted to once in a while it should be fine. As Elmo says: cookies are a sometimes-food....

Hope this helps.
Best of luck with your running.

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