- Eat a proper breakfast or snack
1.5-2hrs before running, this will allow your body to digest the food properly. Make sure you eat some carbohydrates and protein, and that you choose foods that are easily digestible. If you don’t have time to eat before going for a run, eat something light and digestible like a banana or toast with honey or nut butter.
- Include protein in your meals every day
Protein intake will promote muscle recovery and allow you to be ready to run your next session without destroying your muscles. Very active people, runners and athletes need to consume a higher amount of protein daily and spread out the consumption throughout the three meals, this will allow for proper protein synthesis. More physical activity increases our protein needs, but it also increases the efficiency of how the muscles use the protein. Runners should focus on high-quality protein. The recommendation for endurance runners is 1.2-1.4g/kg of bodyweight.
- Eat complex carbohydrates and avoid processed foods.
The body stores carbohydrates in 2 forms; glycogen (muscles) and glucose (blood). Glycogen is the main source of energy for endurance, and glucose helps keep our brain and mind sharp, and gives us quick bursts of energy. Runners have to eat the right amount of complex carbohydrates (healthy carbs) in order to avoid depleting the body of glycogen levels and “feeling flat”. Healthy carbohydrates; brown rice, oats, whole grain bread, whole-wheat pasta, sweet potatoes, sprouted grains, quinoa (seed based). Complex carbohydrates are vitamin, nutrient and fiber rich. Fruits and vegetables are also a great source of carbohydrates full of vitamins, nutrients and minerals.
- Eat healthy snacks.
Running regularly increases the metabolism, in order to avoid energy lows during the day, make sure you have access to healthy snacks such as fruits, nuts and seeds, yogurt, smoothies, nut butter with fruits, healthy energy bars. Always carry with you healthy snacks so you’re not tempted to grab a candy bar or unhealthy treats.
- Eat healthy fats.
It is important to include healthy fats in our diet to process fat soluble vitamin A, D, essential fatty acids and Omega 3 oils. When athletes and runners focus more on high carb diets, this creates an imbalance in the system, which can trigger inflammatory responses leading to muscle and tendon inflammation. Low intakes of healthy fats slows down the metabolism and the body starts storing fat from carbohydrates rather than burning them for energy and store them as glycogen which is crucial for runners. So eat salmon, mackerel, sardines, flax seeds, hemp seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, chia seeds and avocado.
- Organize your meal and snack schedule.
Depending on your training, it is important to eat at the right time to recover, refuel and replenish your depleted body. We have to take in some energy pre-run, eat post-run for recovery, and have lunch, dinner and some healthy snacks to maintain stable energy levels. Breakfast is very important to control hunger and stabilize blood sugar levels throughout the day.
- Runners need to take health supplements and vitamins.
Endurance runners benefit from taking some health supplements to help with muscle recovery, boost the metabolism and avoid vitamin and mineral deficiency. Taking a multi vitamin daily is like “insurance” for the body. Probiotics keep our digestive and immune system healthy. Vitamin C, D, B12, iron, calcium are essential for runners. A very common issue for runners, especially women, is having low iron levels. It is even more frequent after having finished a 100km race. Other important supplements to help with muscle recovery are magnesium and zinc, taking it daily is very efficient in speeding up recovery.
- Hydration and fueling during long runs is important to avoid low levels of glycogen and electrolytes.
The recommendation for runs longer than 90mins is 30-60gr of carbs/hr, 1-1.5gr of carbs/kg of bodyweight. For hydration the recommendation is 7-10oz every 10-20mins of electrolyte drinks or 6-8% of carbohydrate solution, sodium 200-500mg/hr. For runs under 60mins water only is sufficient.
- Eat for proper recovery.
Eating 30-60 mins post-run is very important to ensure proper muscle recovery. The recommended ratio is 4:1 carbs/protein intake. Right after a long run when our digestive system has slowed down, drinking a carbohydrate drink or protein shake to restore the severely depleted muscles and glycogen stores will help with recovery and rehydration. If you don’t refuel properly post-run, your next training session will be affected due to low energy levels.
- All around healthy diet for runners:
– Complex carbohydrates
– Leafy greens
– Fruits and vegetables
– Healthy fats
– Anti inflammatory foods