Think food as fuel, not something to fear or something to put into buckets of good and bad. Each individual is different, and people are going to follow different kinds of eating patterns, and the key is to find a balanced diet that works for you.
Should you eat before you run?
The most important thing that you need to ask yourself is:
How long has it been since you ate or drank something?
So you can run at peak performance, plan accordingly on how you can give your body the fuel it needs. The body can store one to three hours worth of energy, which you can use to expend for a workout or training. Weight watchers who run while fasting won’t be able to see their full prowess and enjoy their run.
Different bodies have varying pre-run fueling requirements. It depends on many factors such as the time of workout, your body built, and how your metabolism burns the stored body fats and energy. As such, it is important to do some math or at least plan ahead before a big running event.
For the pre-run, the first concern is to make sure that you will start the race with enough hydration. This situation calls for consuming enough beverages that can replenish your electrolytes. Avoid drinking too much water as it flushes out the sodium and other body nutrients you need to last the long run.
What kind of session are you going to do?
Think of the upcoming run and know its supposed length. From there, you would want to measure the amount of fuel and the type of food you’d eat a few hours before. But if you will run a short track, you won’t need to consume food.
Within an hour of eating, your body has enough stored energy to get you through a 10k run, depending on the amount of food you ate. If you did not eat much or you came from an overnight fast, you might not last the whole marathon.
It is highly recommendable to eat complex carbohydrates hours before a run to acquire more sustainable fuel. Add some medium-chain triglyceride fats such as coconut oil and a bit of protein in your meal. Pre-workout mix and designed meals are also great ready-to-eat options for those who don’t have the time to prepare their food. The best time to eat would be an hour or two before running.
For speed sessions or strength training on a steep hill, you would need the help of caffeinated drinks for an energy boost and mental clarity. You may also look for simple sugars such as raisins and fast-acting carbs such as soft drinks, jellies, and other sweets.
What food should runners avoid?
While diet soda stands by its claim of zero calories and zero sugars, they pose a risk to runners who have lower bone mineral density. Diet soft drinks can affect the bones in a way that it makes them weak and less resistant to fractures and stress.
White and Brown Bread
Enriched white bread is a highly-refined bread that lacks nutrients than those you can find in whole grain foods. Manufacturers take out the bran and germ for longer shelf life. As such, it leaves the food without natural nutrients such as fiber, iron, and B-vitamins. It also pays to check the label as some products advertised as “wheat,” or “whole-grain” don’t live up to what they promise. Always check the ingredients. The first ingredient you should find is the word “whole,” meaning the entire grain is included.
When you want to butter your toast, it is best to reach for the real healthy oils. Butter substitutes are highly processed and usually include trans saturated fat and hydrogenated oils, which can lead to bad heart health. Natural sources of fat like avocado, coconut oil, and nuts are making a comeback now that consumers realize that there is room for fat in the diet. Most of the unsaturated fats found in these sources are with a healthy heart.
For weight watchers, healthy and fatty foods definitely have a place on a runner’s plate. Just don’t overeat fats before a run to avoid diarrhea or discomfort during the race.
Stay away from fruity alcohol mixed drinks as they have loads of added sugar, calories with no healthful benefits, tend to waste your effort in training and your head if you enjoy drinking too many. If you drink, grab a glass of beer, wine, or distillations instead. Researchers have known that one or two drinks per day may reduce the risk of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Red wine has antioxidants that help heart health, and beer gives protein, B vitamins, and a bit of soluble fiber.
But if you don’t have a high tolerance against beer, alcohol, and other spirits, save it for the celebration. You don’t want to get tipsy and literally break a leg while taking some drunken strides.
Packed with fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats, nuts help to lower the risk of having heart disease. Unsalted nut mixes and even salted nuts for runners who like to lose more salt in their sweat are perfect add-ons for snacking choices – add flavor, add crunch to salads and other dishes.
Nuts also come with a caloric punch, and if you’re on a weight loss diet, it’s best to avoid eating it too much. Also, it matters what types of nuts you’re eating – those cooked in oil or have added sugars are not healthy options. Avoid highly processed nut butter that contains a list of preservatives and fillers like sugar, soy lecithin, and hydrogenated oils. Fresh, ground, or dry-roasted nuts butter is the best choice and is usually free of fillers and preservatives.
It is convenient and inexpensive, but the wrong frozen meal comes with too many calories, unhealthy fats, sodium, and possibly, sugars and additives. Check the nutrition label and avoid those that are high in numbers. Look for one that contains at least grams of protein and plenty of fiber. Must read the ingredients carefully, check the serving size before you eat. Processed meats and deli deceive you in many ways, so check the labels before you buy it.