Nutrition is a huge subject and yes I could write a full length book on it. There are plenty of good books out there, I especially like the book “Eat This Not That” by David Zinczenko, it gives you a choice of simple food swaps that can save you unnecessary calories, fat and sugars. They are not always the ‘healthy alternative’ but in most cases a ‘smarter’ choice. I’m just going to give you a few things I have learned along the way. It’s really each runners responsibility to find the right connection of ‘exercise and nutrition’.
My thing is keep it simple. I’m sure you know about good healthy eating and maintaining a good balanced diet. And yes we do “stray” from time to time and indulge in the not so good “unhealthy” foods, but if we are training we do need to be consistent and focused on a good healthy nutritional diet.
Knowing about nutrition and having a balanced diet is an important part of running. What you eat, can have a dramatic effect on your running performance, so it is very worthwhile giving some thought to what you put into your body when you are expecting it to perform well. According to the CDC, it may consist of 45-65% carbohydrates, 10-35% protein, 20-35% fat and include healthy components such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean sources of protein and heart healthy fats. In examining a proper diet, we first should consider the macronutrients which includes carbohydrates, protein and fat. Each of these macronutrients is important for optimal health. The percentages listed above are generally for most people, but runners may wish to consider adjusting these percentages based on their specific training and running goals. LA Roadrunners preparing for the LA Marathon may wish to increase the percentage of carbohydrates during periods of the longer training when we build the mileage each week. This can help our bodies to remain properly fueled to do this type of training.
Eat Fruit, Feel Better: Brightly colored fruits such as kiwi, berries, and oranges are rich in antioxidants and other nutrients. Fruit juice will provide you with these too, but you’ll obtain more fiber and other nutrients from whole fruit. Tip: You should eat some fruit daily and at least half of them should be brightly colored antioxidant powerhouses such as mangoes, pineapple, and cantaloupe.
Fiber: A diet high in fiber may help you shed some pounds, try to consume two or three servings a day (14g fiber for every 1000 calories consumed) from whole grain cereals and bread, vegetables, fruit, and beans.
Protein Power: Runners need 80 or more grams of protein a day. The micro-nutrients in protein help in muscle repair. Good options for protein include soy foods, fish, eggs or lean meat. Be sure to include these foods in your post-workout meals.
Need More Fuel? Try including more grains, beans, and potatoes into your daily diet. These foods supply the carbohydrate you need to fuel your muscles. Grains also contain important B vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin that your muscles need to convert the carbohydrate you eat into energy.
Healthier way to cook veggies: If you’re boiling vegetables, you’re losing key nutrients. There is a better way. Try steaming your vegetables (don’t over do it though, they should be firm and crunchy) another good process is to roast them. High heat seals in the veggies’ juices — and the nutrients, (which leech out in boiling water) The flavor is better, too. When roasting, cut the vegetable into pieces to ensure even cooking. Sprinkle some olive oil in a pan or tray, spread out the veggies evenly. Add your favorite seasoning and roast until the veggies are tender on the inside.
Benefits of Olive Oil: Research suggests that a diet that emphasizes cooked vegetables and olive oil may be a healthier option.
Fat facts: A study in New Zealand found that total body fat, lean tissue mass, and body weight did not change when the athletes ate a high-fat diet. Some Marathon runners had diets in which 50 percent of their energy intake came from fat for three months. Being engaged in endurance training allowed their bodies to maintain an energy balance and continue to perform at a high level of physical fitness.
More fat = more endurance: On the flip side of this, according to a new study by the University of Buffalo, a low-fat diet may hamper your endurance. Researchers concluded that a medium or high caloric intake from fat, about 30 to 45 percent of your total caloric intake, is your best bet for improving performance if you run at least 35 miles a week. The reason that some runners simply need more calories. Also, when your body burns fat for energy, it conserves glycogen, which is always in relatively short supply.
Eat well my friends.