Hitting the ground running can be hard, especially if you find it hard to keep up with your nutrition. Thankfully, these 15 healthy ideas from Noodletalk for a running blog will get you started on the right foot. Check out our list of tips and recipes below!
1) Keep It Simple And Sustainable One of the most important aspects about fueling correctly is to choose foods that are easy to eat on-the-go and won’t cause stomach upset during your run. Easily digestible protein sources like peanut butter or an energy bar are perfect in this situation as they will give your body sustained fuel for longer periods without upsetting your stomach or bowel. And, if you know your schedule well enough, you can buy bulk items like oats and flax seed to keep stocked in your kitchen.
2) Favor Carbohydrates While we’re not going to talk about nutrition science here, we should at least point you in the direction of the wrong. By following a low-carbohydrate diet, not only will you be missing out on crucial vitamins and minerals, but you could also be contributing to your performance problems instead of resolving them. Additionally, it’s important to note that when running frequently enough as an athlete or endurance athlete does (under a certain threshold), this type of diet can cause muscle loss due to glycogen depletion.
3) Don’t Forget To Eat Before You Run This is one of the most important things to remember if you are interested in a nutrition program that works for your body. As an individual, it may have taken you years to discover what type of food you can eat before a run without experiencing stomach pains or discomfort. Make sure you take the time to establish this relationship with your body before logging your first mile.
4) Alternate Your Proteins If possible, it’s always best to alternate proteins throughout the day and on any given day. This will keep each source of protein from becoming depleted on any particular day (i.e. if eating eggs for breakfast and lunch). This way, your body can continue to digest and absorb proteins without any problems.
5) Begin With Water And End With Water To prevent dehydration, which has been known to slow performances, it’s important to start your run with plenty of water in your system. A good rule of thumb is this: if you’re thirsty, you’re running a little bit dehydrated. So try starting with a sports drink or water and see how you feel before moving onto a gel or other solid food source. This is also the same for when you finish: rehydrate immediately! We usually recommend chocolate milk or coconut water as great ways to quickly replenish your fluids.
6) If You Have A Bad Race, Don’t Change Your Diet If you had a bad race, it’s not because your nutrition plan failed you. It could be anything from a lack of sleep to bad weather conditions. Whatever the case, don’t change your diet based on one result. Instead, keep track of what’s working and what you’re using as fuel and try to replicate those things during future races. This is especially true in long-distance races like marathons when the chances of encountering event-day issues are much more common than shorter events like 5ks or 10ks. And, as a general rule, if you have a bad race, it means you’re a little bit fatigued. Keep it simple and steady for the next one!
7) Forget The “Five A Day” Rule Truthfully, there is no perfect number of fruits and vegetables that need to be eaten on a daily basis for optimal performance. But eating five servings of fruits and vegetables on most days will help maximize your nutrient intake without consuming too much food, which could end up being too heavy to get through your muscles without nutrition. In addition to this rule of thumb, eat more fresh fruit and vegetables when they’re in season in your locale. For more examples of these, check out our article on the top 10 vitamins and minerals!
8) Drink More Water After Your Run Running with a sports drink has been proven to be a great way to rehydrate after a run. Plus, it’s easy to carry along, which is perfect for runners who are on-the-go. If you’re still looking for the perfect sports drink, we recommend trying a flavorless sugar-free variety like Baby Bottle or iBerry.
9) Get Enough Protein For As Much As Possible If there’s one thing that needs to be made clear, it’s that protein has an important role in your nutrition plan and it should not be omitted. As a matter of fact, if you’re looking to lose weight, a diet consisting of more than 50% protein can be unhealthy. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that runners supplement their diets with high-quality protein sources, such as lean beef, chicken or fish. Additionally, most kinds of whole grains have protein in them which can also be eaten before or after strength workouts.
10) Make Sure Your Carbohydrates Come From Whole Food Sources While it may be wise to supplement your diet with complex carbs later on in the day (after your workout), it’s even better to get these from whole food sources like fruit and vegetables. For example, an apple has more fiber than a candy bar and it’s much more satisfying to eat on a long run. The fiber from whole fruits, vegetables and grains also helps with recovery time, which is important for runners who are pushing their muscles to the limit. And, in general, you should always choose high-fiber sources like these over processed junk foods.
11) Don’t Forget About Vitamins And Minerals In addition to getting enough calories for running, it’s that time of year again where we need to think about things like vitamins and minerals. Maintaining a particular level of certain nutrients can be difficult during periods of stress or when we aren’t getting enough sleep, which is why we keep this list handy. It’s always a good idea to take a multivitamin regardless of your diet, especially if you’re living an active lifestyle. Take a look at our article on 11 essential vitamins for runners for more information!
12) Eat Lots Of Fruits And Vegetables During Your Run If you’re following a well-rounded diet and getting the right amount of calories, it’s important to have some fruit and vegetables with each meal. These nutrients aid in digestion and nutrient absorption into your body and can even help to prevent some of the common stomach issues associated with running. It’s important to eat small amounts of these foods too, as larger meals will take longer to digest and could cause you to experience stomach pains on your next run.
13) Don’t Neglect Your Offseason It can be easy to fall into a habit of eating the same thing every day when it comes time to train hard for a race or when you have a busy life. But, if you’re looking for big results from your training, eating the right amount and kinds of food is just as important as pushing yourself in practice. Additionally, it’s crucial not to neglect this time period. If you’re cutting weight or changing your workout plan, make sure to also increase the amount of nutrients that you’re getting daily. This will help prevent any type of nutritional deficiencies and give you the optimal boost for your training goals.
14) Keep Track Of Your Calories Simply put, it’s important not only to get enough calories to fuel your body every day, but also to know how many. You can always play around with this later on if you need help tracking down the right number for you, but at least keep track of what you eat so that you can make sure not to consume too much food. Eating too much can make you feel nauseous, tired and generally uncomfortable during your runs.
15) Look At Other Food Options For Breaking Your Fast After Your Run If you’re sick of eating the same thing every day after your run, it’s time to try something different. Various fruits such as bananas, apples and oranges are great ways to break your fast. You can also eat a bowl of oatmeal or a homemade Super Shake right after a workout! Whatever it is, variety is key and will keep you from feeling sick of your nutrition plan.