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The 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 carbs.

Fat is obviously not good... Or?

Eating good quality, nutritous, delicious food is one of the big joys in life.

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: Carbohydrates

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 so important?
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 character-building experience!

High GI, Low GI, Complex and Simple Carbs

Runner's Diet Your body works better and longer on complex carbs such as pasta, bread and vegies.

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

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 percent.

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: Protein

Runner's Diet 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 can.

Protein is very important to help your bones and tissue develop and repair.

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.

Sports Bars

Beginner Running Tips Couple 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.

Energy Gels

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

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 performance.

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?
Subscribe to the Best Running Tips Newsletter or to my site blog.

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Runner's Diet
Energy Gels | Sports Drinks | Sports Bar | Supplements

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