Diet & Nutrition are important for Runners not only to maintain good health but also to get peak performance. Proper nutrition and hydration can make or break a workout or race, and also affect how you feel, work, and think.
How to prepare for an energetic run:
When you begin a run, you should feel neither starved nor stuffed. You should not eat just before running because it could lead to cramping or annoying side stitches. At the same time running on an empty stomach may cause you to run out of energy and leave you feeling quite fatigued during the run.
As a rule of the thumb, eat a light meal 60 to 90 minutes before you start running, or a small snack 30 minutes before running.
Some of the good food items for your meals are
• Whole grains (bread, pasta, quinoa)
• Lean proteins (eggs, salmon)
• Fresh fruits (bananas, berries, oranges)
• Low-fat yogurt
• Peanut butter with a fruit
Food items that you should completely avoid are
• sugar-filled drinks (especially soft drinks)
• Spicy food
• High-fiber veggies (e.g., broccoli)
• Lactose-rich foods
A balanced diet for runners should have a combination of carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals.
Carbs are the best source of energy for athletes. For runners, carbohydrates should make up about 60% to 65% of your total calorie intake. For both quick and long-lasting energy, our bodies work more efficiently with carbs than they do with proteins or fats.
Good sources of carbs are:
• Starchy vegetables
• Steamed or boiled rice
• Whole grain bread
Protein is used by the body mainly for repairing muscle tissue damaged during training and for your cell generation. In addition to being an essential nutrient, protein keeps you feeling full longer. One egg satisfies about 12.6% percent of your daily protein needs, and the amino acids in eggs will help with muscle repair and recovery. Eating two eggs per day provides about 10% to 30% of all vitamin requirements for humans, except vitamin C.
Good sources of Protein are :
• Lean meats
• Low-fat dairy products
• Whole grains
A high-fat diet can quickly make you gain weight, so try to make sure that no more than 20 percent to 35 percent of your total diet comes from fats. Stick to foods that are high in good fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Foods such as nuts, oils, and cold-water fish provide essential fats called omega-3s which are vital for good health and can help prevent certain diseases.
Vitamins and Minerals
Runners don’t get energy from vitamins, but they are still an important part of their diet. Exercise may produce compounds called free radicals, which can damage cells, and vitamins C and E can neutralize these substances.
Minerals, on the other hand, are of particular importance when it comes to running. Important ones include:
Calcium: A calcium-rich diet is essential for runners to prevent osteoporosis and stress fractures.
Iron: You need this nutrient to deliver oxygen to your cells. If you have an iron-poor diet, you’ll feel weak and fatigued, especially when you run
Sodium and other electrolytes: Small amounts of sodium and other electrolytes are lost through sweat during exercise. Usually, electrolytes are replaced if you follow a balanced diet.
Drink when your body feels thirsty, and don’t overdo it. Don’t gulp down bottles of water before a run, thinking it will prevent you from getting thirsty. Drinking excessive amounts of fluid will not prevent you from cramping or prevent heat-related illnesses. The best tip for staying hydrated during a run? Drink when you are thirsty. You can carry a regular-size water bottle in one hand when you run.
Follow these tips to become a good runner.