Running and performance nutrition
Endurance sports such as running are very popular at the moment. We may decide to practice one of these sports to stay in shape, for fun, as a means of escape, for the sense of well-being it provides, or to foster weight loss. All of these reasons are a good source of motivation. However, what happens if we do not adjust our nutrition to meet our energy expenditure? Say, if we eat too much, or not enough?
To determine your energy needs, refer to my other article How to assess your daily caloric needs? You will get a better picture of what your needs are and what you should eat to help you meet your objective.
To successfully run on a regular basis and achieve the desired results, it is important that you eat healthy foods to meet your energy requirements.
Here’s some advice to help you perform at your best:
- Don’t skip meals: eat three meals a day, and add snacks if required.
- Comply with the healthy plate rule: half of your plate should consist of vegetables, a quarter should be starches, and another quarter should be lean protein. This ensures satiety and proper macronutrients intake (carbohydrates, protein, fat).
- Listen to your hunger signals: if your body says it’s hungry, it is important that you listen to it and provide it with enough energy to recover from the race in addition to meeting its basic needs. In the beginning, keeping a log can help you identify the main reasons that make you eat too much and determine if your hunger is legitimate. The article Am I Hungry? can help you identify the type of hunger you are feeling.
- No foods are prohibited: deprivation is the most common mistake. It’s important that you don’t set any prohibited foods, as they will always seem more attractive. Indulging in small quantities at a reasonable frequency remains the best solution.
- Beware of liquid calories: when we exercise, we can be tempted to drink an energy drink or to gobble down gels to enhance our performance. If you run for less than 60 minutes, plain water is what you need. Past this limit, a drink such as Gatorade might help keeping you hydrated while providing you with energy.
The human body might be a complex machine, but it’s very efficient. Help it by covering its needs, and it will help you in return!
Marie-Ève Nadeau, P.Dt.