Running is one of the best forms of exercise for losing weight and building endurance, but if you want to get the most from your workouts, you need to understand the principles of proper running nutrition. If you are not giving your body the fuel that it needs, you are going to find it very difficult to make it through a workout, let alone compete in a race.
When you run on a regular basis, you need to give your body additional calories. On average, you need an extra 100 calories for every mile that you run. You also need to make sure that you boost your protein intake so that your muscles have the fuel that they need to strengthen themselves.
Complex carbohydrates, which are found in whole grains, whole-wheat bread, potatoes, and many vegetables, can give you the fuel you need to keep going throughout a lengthy run. These carbs take longer to digest, so they will not cause the kinds of rapid ups and downs that you get from simple carbohydrates and sugars.
A diet high in protein is an essential part of the runner’s nutrition, since protein is the building block of muscle. When you recover from a workout, your body uses protein to rebuild and strengthen your muscles and tendons. If you are not eating enough protein, you will not have the raw materials that you need to become stronger.
High quality, lean protein, such as that found in chicken, fish, eggs, or tofu, is the best choice for your diet. As a general rule, you should try to eat about 1.5 grams of protein for every 2.5 pounds that you weigh. For example, if you weigh 180 pounds, you should be eating 108 grams of protein per day.
Many people have gotten the mistaken impression that fats should be avoided in a healthy diet. Your body actually needs fat to function properly, but you have to make sure that you choose the right kinds of fat. Monounsaturated fats, which can be found in foods such as olive oil, avocados, and flax seeds, are the best kinds of fat to eat. These are associated with a lower risk for heart disease and stroke.
Be sure to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water when you run. During a lengthy training run or a race, you can sweat out a great deal of water, so you need to replenish your supply constantly. Aim for at least 8 cups of water a day, but drink more if you feel thirsty. Try to space out your consumption evenly through the day.
Eating more small meals or snacks throughout the day, rather than a few large meals, will help you keep your energy levels up when you run. Energy-filled snacks, such as nuts, seeds, or protein bars, can help you maintain your level of energy so that you can keep up a good pace.
Understanding the principles of proper running nutrition is important if you want to get the most from your workouts and avoid injuring yourself.