Hey runner... performing better starts with your everyday nutrition
Want to run better, run faster, run farther?
Want to know what to eat before, during and after a run so that you can be a better runner? Want to know what supplements to take and when?
Want to know exactly what it is that pro runners eat on race day so that you can be like them?
Well guess what? Performing better on race day doesn't start on race day, or the day before, or the week of when you're carb loading. It starts today. Right now. Every day.
You can't neglect the "boring" stuff.
If you want to be a better runner, you can't just skip to the part about figuring out the perfect post-run snack to recover better. You have to get the everyday stuff down first.
Here are 6 everyday things you can't neglect if you want to run better or heck, even just be healthier.
👟 You need to eat enough to support your training.
Running takes a lot of energy. Regardless of whether you want to lose weight or not, you need to eat enough to be able to support your training, otherwise you'll never be able to take your running to the next level. Heck, you probably won't even be able to finish a run without feeling like garbage!
If you're drastically undereating, you're actually going to slow down your metabolism. Your hormones could be affected, your sleep might be disturbed, your mood might be unpredictable, and your digestion might get out of whack. If you're trying to lose weight, not eating enough can actually make it even harder!
Make sure you're eating enough - eat quality food, don't skip meals, include snacks when you need them, follow the below recommendations, and prioritize eating well.
👟 You need to eat the right balance of macronutrients.
Your body requires proteins, carbohydrates, and fats to run optimally (both the physical exercise, but also just to function). Proteins build and repair tissue, carbohydrates provide energy, and fats are important for our immune system and hormones -- and more.
That said, there's lots of opinions about there about how much of each of the macronutrients you should eat. It can be really confusing to know what it is that your body needs, especially when you consider the different types of training you might be doing or whether you're injured. This post provides some good visuals of what to aim for to help you balance out your meals to get what you need.
👟 You need to have a plan.
I know it can be something of a chore to plan, but if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Right? You will eat SO MUCH BETTER if you know that you'll be home late 2 nights this week, so you planned on putting something in the slow cooker before work and then had leftovers the other day. Or if you packed snacks in your gym bag or kept them in your purse. This way you're not scrambling to find something healthy or giving up and buying something easy.
Planning can be hard to get into the habit of, but once you do, it's easy. If you're struggling to figure out how to start planning ahead so you can eat healthier, check out this post
👟 You need to eat real food (at least most of the time) - don't rely on supplements.
Supplements are easy - just pop a pill and you're good, right? Not so fast. Some supplements might be helpful, but many others do you no good and others are actually harmful. They're not regulated, so unless you're buying from a reputable brand, you might not be getting what you're paying for. Make sure your supplements are verified by USP or NSF (there will be a label on the bottle).
Another thing about that is eating real food helps prevent you from overdosing on certain nutrients.You might think that taking a mega-dose of vitamin C will help protect you from a cold or a flu, but having too much can actually lead to diarrhea and vomiting. Usually the amount of food you'd need to OD on vitamin C would be so much that you'd stop eating before you got there.
And finally, there's a synergistic effect of foods. Eating real food provides benefits to our bodies that we don't completely understand yet... and thus we can't put them in a bottle.
👟 You can't skip out on entire food groups (unless you have an allergy).
A healthy diet includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, proteins (plant-based or not), and oils. They all play a specific role, and often they complement each other. Vegetables provide vitamins, minerals, fiber, water, and other compounds to help keep you healthy and prevent chronic disease. Whole grains provide different vitamins and minerals, carbohydrates, and fiber. Oils provide fats to help us absorb some of the vitamins found in foods.
When you completely skip out on an entire food group, you're missing out on all the nutrients that that food group provides. Even if you do have an allergy to something (let's use wheat as an example), you can still find other foods in that food group that would provide similar nutrients (like rice or gluten-free oats).
👟 You can't neglect your hunger.
If you are physically hungry, you should eat some food! Sounds simple, right? But too often we neglect or ignore our hunger - sometimes because we recently ate, sometimes because we think we "shouldn't" be hungry, sometimes because we're trying to lose weight. Physical hunger is your body's way of saying it needs fuel, and it is asking you to provide it.
If you ignore your hunger signals, they can intensify... setting you up for hard-core cravings and maybe even a binge later. Ignoring your hunger until you're over-hungry usually sets you up to eat less healthy food (because it's often fast, comforting, and cheap), eat too quickly (thus not enjoying or even noticing your food), and eat too much (because you eat fast, you overeat before you realize it).
It's not shameful to eat when you're hungry... and you'll likely feel better about it if you do!
If you want to eat better to become the best runner you can be...
start with the everyday boring stuff first. It will give you a good foundation for the race-day nutrition. Neglect this, and you'll never be able to optimize your performance.
Need help with this? Good news! I've helped all kinds of runners get their everyday nutrition figured out, and I can help you too. Interested? Schedule your runner's nutrition strategy session now!