In my endeavor to help boost my sports performance I’ve been reading a few articles to see what they say about running and nutrition. For the most part Ive already heard a few if not all the different tips and tricks but I wanted to share what I find to be most important.
- Fats, Proteins, and Carbs
Yesterday, I was listening to a podcast by the founder and creator of Bare Performance and Nutrition. He is a nutritionist who made his own supplement company and spends most of his time now as an athlete and training to compete in long endurance events. As of late he has decided to run the Leadville 100, an ultramarathon event in higher elevation. Because of this he has devoted himself to learning more about his how to fuel for something as daunting as a 100 mile run.
In the podcast, he spoke with ultramarathon runner Zach Bitter who has the World record time for 100 mile run. It is incredible to think about how someone can keep going for over a marathon length when someone like me can barely imagine running 10 miles. This man has made it his business to train for distances that make grown men cry. What he said was that his diet is most considered a high fat diet. Not a Keto diet, which involves no carbs. He says he tries to maintain his protein intake at about 20% of his diet and then keeps his carbs as low as 50 grams of his diet which is extremely low compared to regular running diets that say to make your carb intake 60% of your diet. This I would say only works for someone who is planning to run ultra marathons or go into the further distances. other than a marathon.
Something that I have found to be helpful is the idea that there is no perfect diet that works for everyone. Everyone’s body is different, everybody’s stomach tolerates food differently and it is up to us to really see how we feel with our diet.
Most running diets say to eat around 20-35% protein, 15-25% fats and around 50-65% carbs. This is because carbs tend to be readily available in our body and the process of converting carbs to energy is pretty simple. Not only that but the carbs we eat also get stored in our muscles as glycogen which is pulled from the muscles during exercise. That doesn’t work so much for ultra marathoners because they run through their glycogen storage really easy and once that is gone the body goes for the next best thing which is fats. The way fats are broken down in the body is one or two steps longer and the conversion between carbs and fats leaves you feeling pretty drained. So it makes a bit of sense to keep your body low carbs and and high in fats so your body pulls from you fat storages faster.
For most runners though carbs are your friend. The only problem with carbs is that sometimes they don’t sit well within the stomach and you end up running to the bathroom. So that’s what I mean when I say we all need to learn to fine tune our diet to ourselves.
- When, where and how?
So when is the best time to eat? according to an article I read( link will be at the bottom) the best time to eat would be within an hour before your run, I believe they recommend about 200 calories worth. they say the same thing with hydration. You should hydrate yourself before a run. there are 5 basic electrolytes in our body which are, potassium, sodium, water, calcium, and another one that is made in the body. Electrolytes are essential to the contraction of muscles so it is important that we have these in our body when we are exercising.
One thing I would say to avoid before a run would be caffeine. caffeine is diuretic what that means is that it causes our body to dehydrate quicker. so those sports drinks or preworkouts that are out there should be avoided as a runner. They have their place in a gym setting, IF used appropriately, but as a runner when water is lost consistently and heavily for some, it is important to stay as hydrated as possible.
Hydration is really important. I can’t stress that enough. of course too much water can be a bad thing too which can lead to hyponatremia, which is an imbalance of sodium levels in the cell because of an excess of water. if you try to over hydrate that can lead to cramps, headaches and even death in extreme cases. The best way to gauge how much water you need is to take your weight before a run and then after the run drink water progressively in the next hour until you reach that same weight.
- What do I eat?
Another thing I’ve read is to make sure that after a workout you eat a protein filled and nutrition filled meal. protein because you need protein in order to build lean muscle. After working out there is trauma that is done to the muscle that needs to be repaired. the only way it can be repaired is if there is enough building blocks to repair it. protein is the bodies building block. nutrition is the glue to keep it all together. Fruits and vegetables have vitamins and minerals and antioxidants that help prevent inflammation and help with the muscle building process. that’s why I believe eating a Whole Foods diet is probably the best for your progress.
When choosing protein, choose lean meats, when choosing carbs choose complex carbs like fruits and vegetables of all different colors and shapes, and when choosing fats, choose natural fats, oils and nuts.
Last thing. If dieting to lose weight don’t go into starvation mode. starvation mode pulls energy from your muscles. So eat breakfast or your muscles will be the first to go. so all that hard work you do at the gym and muscles you try to grow will be for nothing if you don’t eat consistently and properly.
So, that is my overview of nutrition for a runner. I hope this is educational for some as we all try to become healthy together. With that I will end the blog God bless.