Whether you are competing in your first dream run or are a seasoned professional, your nutrition status can affect your peak performance and will help you go for that extra mile. You may have trained well and vigorously, on trail and the treadmill, but are you ready nutritionally? Taking care of your nutrition can make or break your training and your performance on the race day. Looking after your diet and giving your body all the nutrients it needs is not something to be done two weeks prior the race day, but it is a critical segment of your training programme.
Optimizing your nutrition not only helps you train better but also enhances your body-mind functioning as a runner. The training period is a period of intense physical activity that helps your body to gain strength and endurance. Staying consistent with the right dietary habits will help your body recover in between the training periods and adapt biochemically. Runners often prioritize various regimes for training but seldom advocate and monitor their diet. Taking care of your body’s nutritional requirements can be a long term and a tedious affair but is of key importance.
There is no “magic bullet” or “single-approach” that can help all runners but some paramount factors will ensure strength and resistance building as well as overall health.
Keep it simple
With the intensity of training that the runners have to go through, it’s essential for them to eat and obtain all the nutrients and match up to the increased level of requirement. It’s not just what you eat that is vital- it’s also about when you eat it. Eat the right carbohydrates and protein- AND THE FATS TOO! (Do not lash out fats in order to lose weight) It’s not just about getting the macronutrients right, the micronutrients play a significant role in the body’s metabolic processes. Get your vitamins and minerals from natural sources and advocate your needs before reaching out for supplements. Synchronise your diet with your training schedule to make the most of it.
Balance it out right
Whether you are trying to lose weight, increase muscle mass or maintain your current body mass composition; you need to get the basics right. Your diet should comprise of 55% carbs (simple and complex), about 25% protein and the rest from unsaturated fats. You do not need to monitor every morsel or sweat over every calorie that you ingest. One half of your plate should be made up of carbohydrates, a quarter of protein and a quarter of good fats. Try and use a variety of ingredients from all the food groups to obtain a right mix of all the nutrients.
Fuel up correctly
Fuelling up before your run will help you with an energy boost. Eating a pre-run snack that is rich in complex carbohydrates and protein gives a slow sugar spike and keeps you going for longer periods. Hitting the wall is every long distance runner’s fear. It is when you have dipping energy levels and diminished stores and this leads to fatigue. Re-fuelling during a run of 90minutes or more is essential. Light-weight knacks like a banana, gummy sweets and dry fruits can help. Within 15 minutes after your workout, have a snack that is rich in simple carbohydrates and protein. This will start working on the body’s recovery process and replenish the depleted stores.
If you think that hydrating during training or otherwise are only for quenching thirst, you are mistaken. Fluids help to regulate your body temperature, flush out the toxins, maintain cell fluid level and replace loss during sweating and keeps your joints lubricated. While on the go, thirst can easily be mistaken for hunger and hydrating well can help you ward off food cravings. There are no recommended allowances for water intake. The thumb rule to be used is to drink half your body’s weight in ounces throughout the day (if you weigh 100 pounds, drink 50 ounces). During your run, drinking whenever you are thirsty is a great approach. This avoids underhydration and overhydration.
- Maintaining consistency and discipline is of utmost importance.
- Monitor and advocate your diet closely. You are the best judge of what works and alter your eating patterns accordingly.
- Maintaining a food log can be a great idea that gives you a reality check about your eating patterns.
- Avoid anything that is artificial and try to eat clean.
- Avoid using supplements and meal replacers; Nothing can replace a wholesome meal and provide your body with all the nutrients it requires.
- Stay calm during the process. Taking charge and altering your dietary habits and lifestyle is not a one-time fix.
- Eat mindfully and avoid packaged, processed food.
- Chant your health mantra- Run, Eat, Hydrate!
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