Why A Good Diet for Runners is Crucial
Whether you’re training for a 5k, a half-marathon, a triathlon, or—God help you—a full marathon, your diet is just as important as your training regimen.
You’ll have to spend hours every day running, improving your cardio, increasing your endurance, and pushing your body to its limit. It takes a lot of work to train for a run, and you need to focus on getting good exercise.
But don’t think that exercise alone will help you to complete that run! You need to have a healthy diet as well, or else you’ll never make it across that finish line…
A Runner Needs the Right Nutrition
Here are two important questions to ask yourself:
- What fuels your body when you run?
- What helps to repair those muscles you’ve pushed so hard?
Did you ever think about that? The truth is that most of us never even think about the way food affects our exercise, and we take it our diet granted.
Now that you’re training to run a race, you need to realize that your food intake and your energy expenditure are 100% linked. Without enough nutrients, you’ll never cross the finish line. With the right diet, you’ll find that training for that race is much easier!
- Keeps your body fueled. Your body uses carbs for short-term energy, so you’ll need those carbs to help you take off from the starting line. After running for 30 to 60 minutes, however, your body will run out of stored carbs. It will turn to the fat it has stored – or the fat you ate a few hours before the race – and it will burn that fat for energy. Seeing as fat has more energy than carbs, a little fat will go a long way!
- Repairs your muscles. When you exercise, the muscles in your body are broken down. The fibers have to repair themselves, and they need amino acids to do so. Where do these amino acids come from? That’s right: from the protein that you eat. That’s why whey and other forms of raw protein are extremely important. Without protein, your broken-down muscle fibers would never be repaired – and your muscles would stop working. If you eat the right foods, you get the amino acids needed to keep those muscles chugging away.
The Runner’s Diet
So, what should a runner eat?
- Fat — Fat is a necessary part of a runner’s diet, but it shouldn’t be a staple. It’s recommended that you only consume about 25% of your daily calories in the form of fat. This fat, however, will give you long-term energy that your body can use once you have used up all of the short-term energy provided by carbs, and it’s the fat that will keep your body working beyond the 30-minute mark.
- Protein — A runner’s diet should consist of about 30% protein, which is the same as a healthy diet for a normal person. The reason for this is that most runners don’t push their muscles as hard as bodybuilders, so they won’t need as much protein to rebuild those muscle fibers. They can get by with less protein, but they still need enough to keep their muscles working. Protein also helps to shorten the recovery time, so you can train more frequently.
- Carbs — For runners, carbs are the most important part of their diet. Carbs are the energy source that keeps runners running, so up to 50% of their diet should be in the form of carbs. You want carbs that will digest quickly (giving you immediate energy), as well as carbs that take longer to digest (giving you energy after a long run). Both simple and complex carbs should be a part of a diet for runners, and will help you keep up the pace for much longer.
With this diet, the finish line is within your reach!