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Ingredients of a Runner's Diet
What is part of the ideal runner's diet?
We all heard that carbs are important, right?
But when you want to lose weight you often get the advice to cut out
Fat is obviously not good... Or?
Eating good quality, nutritous, delicious food is one of the big joys
So I hope you will use this article as a good basic guide, without
making your diet so rigorous and joyless that you no longer love eating.
Runner's Diet Basics
The first misconception I should probably try to get out of the way is
that there really is nothing special to a runner's diet compared to
that of a non-runner. Healthy eating is good for everyone. But given
obesity and disease statistics it is clear that not everyone knows what
a good diet is.
A good diet contains plenty of carbs, sufficient protein
and not too much fat.
The rough guideline is to get 60 percent of your calorie-intake from
carbohydrates, 25 percent from fat and 15 percent from protein.
Runner's Diet Ingredient #1:
So, 60 percent of your calorie-intake should be carbs. That's right.
Carbohydrates provide you with the energy you need to do your running.
So that means a good proportion of pasta, bread, rice, potatoes etc.
So, what is all this talk about cutting out carbs to reduce weight? The
reality is that many people simply eat way too much. So their
proportion of carbs may be 60 percent, but they eat 1.5 times of what
they should eat! Of course, cutting out carbs then is a great idea!
when you want to run and lose weight you need to be aware of how many
calories you consume and burn during the day.
Want to learn more about running for weight loss? Check out the page about running for weight loss.
So, what is it about carbohydrates, that make them
Well, when you eat carbs, your body stores them in your muscles as
something called glycogen, which is basically your
fuel. Ever heard about people hitting the wall
in a marathon? That's the moment they run out of their glycogen and
their body needs to start burning fuel from their fat reserves.
Burning fat costs a lot more effort than burning glycogen, so that's
why people then lose their speed and their will to live... :) Okay,
that's a bit exaggerated, but I can tell you that it is a bloody tough
High GI, Low GI, Complex and
Your body works better and longer on complex carbs such as pasta, bread
These complex carbs get into your system slowly, because your body
needs to take more time to process them.
So, they provide you with a slow but steady energy supply.
These are also known as low GI foods, foods that release the energy
over a longer period of time.
Simple carbs are easy to process for your body. They give you a quick,
but short energy boost. This is known as a "sugar high" and you get it
from plenty of bad foods like cookies, candy, soft
drinks, etc. These are known as high GI foods.
There is a place for high GI foods as well, e.g. when running a race or long distance
and you need to get extra energy in your system at that moment. Energy
gels and sports
drinks can help give you that quick boost.
Runner's Diet Ingredient #2:
Fat is not necessarily bad. Again, it depends on your total intake.
Where it is advised that about 25 percent of our diets should be fat,
for most people in Western societies it is something like 35 - 40
Once you start keeping track of everything you eat and understand the
natural fat content of many products, you will find out that you do not
need to push for more fat in your diet, it is already there in the
healthy foods you consume.
This should not mean that your diet should be a prison, without joy or
being able to indulge in the occassional treat.
Of course, that is fine, as long as your diet is generally sound. Just
make sure that everything is in balance, that you know you are eating
the right foods and the right amounts of them.
Runner's Diet Ingredient #3:
It may come as a bit of a surprise that protein should be about 15
percent of your diet.
Many people would think it is a lot more.
The tricky thing though is that the protein your body does not need
will be saved as fat.
This should not be the sign for you to cut out protein as much as you
Protein is very important to help your bones and tissue develop and
As a runner you need more protein than other people because you burn it
and you put stress on your body as you run.
You can find protein in beans, nuts, fish, lean meat, chicken etc.
When you are a vegetarian you need to focus on getting enough protein.
We are pesco-vegetarians which means my wife and I eat fish and seafood
but not meat. So we still get quite a bit of protein via fish, but we
also need to compensate via intake of tofu, beans, nuts etc.
A regular exercise program such as a running program is also important
for a healthy liver which is vital to total body health. Treat your
liver to foods that nourish it. Remember a healthy liver nourished with healthy food provides high energy for running.
Sports Nutrition Supplements
Taking nutrition supplements is a fad in contemporary times and is
usually not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration Board.
Supplements can have their value, but you need to look out as some or
just a waste of money and harmful to your health.
Clinical nutritionists, healthcare specialists, and doctors use
professional quality nutritional supplements to maintain general
well-being and to correct imbalances in the body and to bring it to
normalcy. Make sure you are properly informed so you do not take
anything and everything out of sheer habit.
The market today is filled with sports bars.
People today are taking a lot of supplements to meet their daily
vitamine and food intake requirements. This is leading to the fast
appearance of more and more sports bars on shopping shelves.
You must keep in mind that a sports bar is not the best possible source
of nutrients. It is to be used only for emergency situations, when you
need a quick hit of energy, and not on a regular basis. They are
definitely not bad for you, but you need to be careful with them. Also,
be very picky when it comes to sports bars.
Need replenishment during a long run or marathon race? Than an energy
gel is the perfect supplement for you. There are plenty of other
choices, e.g. sports bars as mentioned before, sports drinks, etc.
They all have their pros and cons. I prefer to carry gels with me as
they are easy to carry.
When during a race I get to a water station, I take in the gel and
flush it down with water.
Everybody is different, you may not like gels, so I definitely advice
you to experiment with the different types of supplements. You might
find that you cannot take in bars during your training, but you are
fine with gels. Or vice versa.
Sports drinks can help you replenish quickly during or after your run.
Each drink has a different build-up and different taste. So it is
important to experiment a bit until you have found the one that is
right for you. You may find that my reviews of different sports drinks
can help you make your choice.
A sound and healthy runner's diet is definitely a big help for your
That does not mean that you should eat healthy the week before your big
race only and expect it to have an impact.
Just make healthy eating part of your normal habits. Overindulging in
sweets and bad food is okay once in a while.
But always make sure you get back on the right track. Not just for your
running performance by the way. Your diet is of utmost importance if
you want to achieve a longer, healthier life.
Wish to get more running tips?
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Running Tips Newsletter or to my
from Runner's Diet Page to Best Running Tips Homepage
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