A runner’s diet is just as important in making him a runner, as much as training is. This article will tell you about the importance of planning a proper diet for a runner.
Ever felt (and if you’re lucky, seen) a runner whoosh past you? Don’t you just love the speed and elegance with which they make that journey across? Then you wonder what goes into making a runner. Well, runners become runners not only because they run. There are other factors that go into making them good runners – extensive training, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and of course, an appropriate diet. The diet plays a very important role in an athlete’s life. Through this article, let us try to understand how a runner’s diet plan is determined, and how it helps.
Runner’s Diet Plan
In order to become a good runner and tap the full potential of one’s energy, it is important that one plans a healthy and balanced diet. Here is how a good diet for a runner should go – a list of the dos and don’ts.
Count the Calories
Runners need a special diet because they carry forth heavy-duty physical exercises that non-runners don’t. At this point, there’s a common misconception that needs to be tackled. Just because a runner carries out so much physical activity and thereby ends up burning so many calories, does not mean that he can eat whatever he wants and it’ll be burned out. One needs to understand the ratio of one’s calorie intake and how much is actually burned off. Then limit the calorie intake if all that is not being burned off. The measurement of the calories that the diet should include is generally accepted as this – 50 percent from carbohydrates, 25 percent from fat and 25 percent from protein. In this way it is easy to use the runner’s diet to lose weight as well – where the calorie ratio should run on the principles of – more burnt and less taken in.
Before getting into what should be included in this kind of diet, it is equally important to know what to avoid. So even if you’ve heard it a thousand times before, here goes. Avoid any kind of processed food, alcohol, spicy, oily, fried and sugary items. Also, do not try to replace natural foods with energy drinks, bars and other such products. Why? Because even if they might be tempting (what with the ‘A one-stop meal which includes all nutrients, minerals etc’ ) and an easier option to choose, it will not provide the other basic nutrients that natural food provides. Add to that the deterrent that they are packed with extra calories, and you’ll think twice before reaching out for them the next time.
What to Eat
These are some of the things that should be included in a runner’s diet, so that he can tap his full capacity.
Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates provide a runner with the required energy to carry out strenuous exercises. Include foods like vegetables, fruits, breads (whole wheat), brown rice and beans. Here are some more lists of high carbohydrate foods.
Nuts and Berries: Include a lot of nuts, seeds and berries in your diet. These also include whole grain and beans as well. These provide health boosting compounds to the body and help one stay fitter.
Milk and By-products: Milk, cultured milk and other dairy products are important because not only do they provide calcium for the body, but also boost ones immune system. Along with that it also leads to a healthy heart and helps in weight loss.
Protein: Protein helps in maintaining muscle integrity and keeping a person full for a longer time. Thus it helps a runner sustain his energy levels for longer. The best source of these is lean meats like chicken, fish and egg whites. One can also include beef and pork in small quantities.
Fats: Include different oils in measured quantities and ideally as seasoning. Olive oil and olives, omega 3 fatty acids (from fish), almond oil and almonds. All these make for great fat sources.
Water: Do not forget your daily intake of water as well. Have a considerable amount of water to avoid dehydration and flush away toxins from your body.
Important Tips for the Perfect Runner’s Diet
- Always have a pre-run snack to increase efficiency and performance.
- Do not peel the skin of fruits. This provides for a lot of energy as well.
- Try and include the basic food groups in all your meals, which will automatically take care of one’s iron, magnesium, zinc, B-complex, vitamins, minerals and other dietary needs.
- Do not smoke – it’ll have a direct effect on your performance.
A runner’s diet must ideally include these products. So if you want to become one, you know what needs to be done. Make sure that you draw up a good plan for yourself or consult a sports trainer who will be adept at guiding you at a personal level.