Kathy finishes her long run, bolts through the door making a beeline for the blender, oblivious to the sweat trail forming through the kitchen.
She must chug her Green Smoothie in 30 minutes or the whole run will be a complete and utter waste.
Sometimes that’s how nutrition for runners feels…a little insane, too many must’s and should’s, not enough “how the heck do I actually make this work and WHY?!”
Luckily, you should know me by now, and you know I’m going to exhaust everything until I find the answers to these questions.
I like simplicity. I love habits and I go absolutely gaga over researching things.
So over the last couple of years, I’ve been diving into learning more about what actually matters and what nutrition tips are important. I’ve put together a list from that research – and here is a massive round up for you to pick and choose the things that will make the biggest impact for you!Let’s start at the logical place, the beginning.
Find out what sports nutrition actually means and who should you work with? One of the key things you’ll learn here is what all those letters behind their names mean and that your personal trainer shouldn’t be your nutritionist!!
As a running coach, I can share little tips of what’s worked for me like using dried pineapple for a running fuel because it actually helps prevent digestive issues. BUT I can only share based on my experiences, not based in science or lots of schooling like a dietitian!
Once you’ve read that and have the basics, it’s time to move on to the areas that interest you the most! I’ve broken them down by topic to help answer the questions of what should runners eat.
Perfecting Food Timing
Do you actually need to force down food immediately post run??
It depends on your goals. You’ll hear me say that a lot, but I truly believe that no two people are alike and what works for you may not always work for someone else.
You can indeed achieve good recovery and muscle gains without immediate food, but many find that if they wait to get protein/carbs they become ravenous throughout that day or the next, turning to less optimal choices.
Read more on managing hunger for distance running >>
Other tips to help you find the right foods at the right time:
- Best Post Run Meals for Recovery
- Best Pre-Workout Snacks
- Should You Do Fasted Runs?
- How Does Intermittent Fasting Work for Runners?
- What to Eat Before a Race?
- Using Whole Foods on Long Runs
- 7 Carbo-Loading Mistakes to Avoid
- Running Hydration Done Right
- Understanding Macros for Runners
There’s only one thing that I dislike about Instagram and it’s the promotion of “perfect diets” that you see everywhere. Six pack ab wearing ladies are talking nutrition and how eating only beans is the world’s best choice, while another says she eats a whole buffalo each day.Exaggeration, maybe. You’ve seen it too though, right?
What foods can make you run faster?
The truth is, there are some basic principles from every single diet plan out there that will help us feel better, recover faster, and train harder.
- eat more green leafy vegetables
- eat more fiber
- eat less sugar
- eat less process foods
- eat enough to fuel your lifestyle
Beyond that, the “perfect diet” is one that works for your body and indeed it may not be what works for your significant other, your running buddy, or your annoying cubicle mate. For example, greek yogurt is a fantastic snack, unless like me you’ve figured our dairy is an issue because of a food intolerance!
Whether you’re looking for diet for marathon training for beginners or how to eat to crack your PR, you’ll find one filled with high density nutrition is key. Sports nutrition isn’t just macros or carbs, it’s finding the foods that fuel YOU.
You have to figure out what diet and food is best for you and not worry about if it works for someone else!
Below are additional sports nutrition articles to help guide your choices:
- How Many Calories to Runners Really Need?
- How to exercise to burn more fat?
- Should We Stop Counting Calories?
- Is a High Fat Diet Better for Runners?
- How to Go Plant Based as a Runner
- Why Food Sensitives Might Cause Your Fatigue
- 3 Different Meal Planning Methods for Food Success
- Can Protein Timing Reduce Body Fat?
- Does IIFYM Work for Runners?
- Can Intermittent Fasting curb Carb Cravings?
- 3 Common Nutrition Mistakes of Runners
- How to Stock a Healthy Runner’s Pantry
- How to Conquer Your Sugar Cravings
Supplementing Whole Foods
Too often we skip the “eat well, live well” thing and jump right into taking supplements instead because of the quick gains that are promised in a lot of sports nutrition products.
Recovery faster than Usain Bolt.
^You’ve seen that before, right?
The keyword there is “quick” for a reason. As quickly as you can gain something, you can just as quickly lose it as well once you stop. Finding balance with food that is sustainable for a long time is more important than anything.
Of course there is a place for supplements, especially because distance runners deplete their bodies in a way that would require eating pounds and pounds of greens daily to fully recover. BUT if you don’t have the food right, you’re only getting a fraction of the benefits. Remember that food is THE most important thing, then the supplements can follow.
When it comes to supplements, I’m picky and you should be too. We should always be picky about everything we put into our bodies.
Read a little bit more below to learn why it’s important to do your supplement research before just picking out something random you’ve seen work for someone else.
- What Vitamins Runners Need?
- The One Supplement all RD’s Recommend: Probiotics
- Can a Pre-workout Supplement Help?
- What’s the Best Protein Powder for Women?
- Best Plant Based Sources of Iron to Prevent Iron Deficiency
- Preventing Stress Fractures with Sports Nutrition
- Electrolytes – what are they and why you need them
- Magnesium for Body Composition, Performance, Cramps and Calm!
- Why Runners Benefit from some Supplements and What I take
I feel like a record on repeat with this phrase lately, but it remains true which is why I always go back to it…
- If it feels overwhelming, you’re trying to do too much.
- Pick one area to begin with and make the change! Take it slow, make it simple.
- Once it sticks, start focusing on the next area that matters.
Suddenly you’ll find without a whole lot of effort or angst, you’re eating more veggies or drinking more water, or whatever your goals were…don’t make it overly complicated. You want to do something that you know is going to stick around long term.
Now with that said the real question remains – what are you going to do?
Not quite done exploring? Checkout all the healthy, easy recipes I’ve shared >>
What area of your nutrition do you need to improve?
How often do you use supplements in your training?
Other ways to connect with Amanda
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