A well-balanced diet provides your body with all of the essential nutrients it needs to function properly. As an athlete or runner, your body demands more….. But, not all people are alike. I’m no nutritionist, but I know what works for me (through years of trial and error). First things first: check with your health care provider prior to taking to the streets.
My diet has changed several times over the course of the past few years. I’m not a big fan of the fad-diets but do realize that I have to maintain some consistency in order for my body to get the proper energy it needs when training (and to maintain a healthy lifestyle). A common myth is, “runners can eat anything they want.” False.
Think about this for perspective: Sonic’s route 44 Cherry Lime slush (one of my all-time favorites) consists of 650-700 calories. An average male (my size) burns about 120-130 calories per mile….. I’d have to run about 5 miles or more just to burn off that slushy. Throw in a Sonic cheeseburger and fries….. You know where I am going with this. Some people possess higher metabolism rates though. We all know at least one person who can eat all of this without gaining an ounce…..
So, I highly recommend that you dig into the books and do some homework to figure out what nutrition plan works best for you. The information that I’ve provided below can be found at many websites by simply performing a Google search for “runner’s diet.” I found this information from Runner’s World and it is very useful!
The Runner's Diet (source: Runner’s World)
A smart weight-loss plan starts with these nutritious foods
How Much: 50 to 55 percent of total calories
Why You Need It: The body prefers carbs as the main fuel source when you run, so they should be the cornerstone of a runner's diet.
Where To Get It: Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and lentils are rich in complex carbs and fiber (both slow digestion and supply a steady stream of energy), as well as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that speed recovery and protect against diseases.
How Much: 25 to 30 percent of total calories
Why You Need It: You need this nutrient to absorb fat-soluble vitamins; foods high in fat also keep you satisfied, so you eat less.
Where To Get It: Nuts, seeds, and avocados are rich in heart-healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats. Olive oil contains oleic acid, and may help suppress your appetite. Other healthy choices include canola, grapeseed, flaxseed, and hempseed oils.
How Much: 15 to 25 percent of total calories
Why You Need It: Protein speeds muscle repair and recovery. High-protein foods are satisfying and take longer to digest.
Where To Get It: Cuts of beef and pork labeled "loin" and skinless poultry have a healthy protein-to-fat ratio. Fatty fish are rich in omega-3s. Tofu is a lean protein source, while low-fat dairy like milk and yogurt provide calcium. Eggs are loaded with vitamins A, K, and D.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
I eat a ton of these items daily.
I remember as a child, teachers discussing the food pyramid and the importance of a healthy diet….. If I only would have listened then; what a different world it would be…..
The Food Pyramid
(click image for full size)