A Runner’s Diet

In the last couple of years, I’ve picked up many miles of running and have looked to resources such as RunnersWorld.com, WomensHealth.com and WomensRunning.com to keep me motivated and informed along the way. I’ve decided to collate all the information I’ve learned over the years and share that information.

The best diet is of course the one you can maintain without drastic life changes, binging and cheating. Personally I am strive to ensure that 50-75% of my diet is plant-based. At most 25% of what I eat is raw, with the remaining neither here nor there!

Create your own “fab 5 list”.  Here’s mine:

The Fab 5:

Pre-run. Some people run on an empty stomach, some need fuel.  Definitely don’t eat and run, give yourself at least 30 minutes to digest your food.  If you choose to eat, ensure you fuel yourself with some sort of carbohydrate. Your body will burn of the glycogen it stores and it keeps about 60-90 minutes worth.  If you plan to run more than 60 minutes, take a gel with you and consume after 45 minutes.  Best practice: a banana, coffee (yes, coffee – my go to is an almond milk latte), an apple, an energy bar (favorite is Lara), or some complex carbohydrate, like celery with almond butter.

Replenish whilst running. A good rule of thumb is that if you are running for less than 60 minutes, and you are well hydrated, you don’t need water or a sports drink while running.  It may take some getting used to, and when I used to drink water on runs, I would often get a side stitch.  Since ditching that habit, I’ve been side stitch free!  On runs over 60 minutes, in warmer weather, I simply plan my route along water fountains and drink coconut water immediately post-run. Definitely carry an energy gel and consume it during training, every 45 minutes or every 5 miles. Don’t do anything on race day without practicing first!

Recovery.  Love that runner’s high? Keep it. The best thing you can do after a great run is to recover your muscles immediately with a mix of protein and carbohydrates.  What good is the post-run endorphin rush if you don’t recover within 30 minutes and crash later?  My favorite post-run drink is a peanut butter, banana and chocolate almond milk smoothie.  Clean and energizing! I also add to the blender Perfect Fit Protein powder and sometimes some chia seeds.

Maintenance. Some of the best foods runners should eat are found in detail over at RunnersWorld.com. No need to list them here, and chances if you’re an athlete, you already know what’s good for you. Eat the rainbow and call it a day.
Supplement. Do you supplement? Whatever your personal view is on supplements, there are a few that hands down are winners.  Especially if you live in colder climates with minimal sun exposure, I definitely recommend Vitamin D (especially for women!) and magnesium.  Some other best practices are: calcium, fish oil, iron (if anemic), multivitamin, or prenatal (if you can tolerate the big size!).
Ultimately the best diet is the one you can maintain, and allows to you perform optimally.  Specific questions about your health and supplements may be discussed with your primary care physician.  The above is a list I collated after trial and error during my own training as well as research!
Happy running!

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