“Proper nutrition and hydration can greatly impact the runner’s performance”
As a runner, your diet is important for peak functioning. Proper nutrition and hydration can greatly impact the runner’s performance. There’s actually no such thing as a dedicated runner’s diet. The diet which is good for runners is the same diet which is recommended for everyone. Problem is, many people fail to follow the right diet.
For a runner, 60 – 65% of your total calories should come from carbohydrates as carbs are the best source of energy. Carbs is the source of both instant as well as long-lasting energy (glycogen) in our body. Instant source of carbohydrates are basically sugar, which provide short term energy boost- typically come from natural sources like fruit or juice, refined sugars found in candy, soda, doughnuts, etc.
These are basically empty calorie food with no essential vitamins or minerals. While on the other hand, glycogen stored in the muscles should be the primary source of fuel which released energy slowly for a longer time and keep you going for about two hours of running.
Example of long lasting sources of carbs : Whole grain, boiled rice, potatoes, fruits and starchy vegetables. Moreover for runners three large meal concept doesn’t work and hence they should require eating small and frequent meal with 3 to 4 hours interval so that it will help maintain energy levels throughout the day.
Runners concentrate more on consuming carbs and therefore sometimes forget about their protein needs. Protein is required to repair damaged tissue during training therefore at least 15% of calories intake should come from low fat sources of protein. Good sources of protein are low fat milk and its products, soy milk, tofu, fish, lean meat, egg white, lentils, nuts, and whole grains.
Fat is a necessary part of our diet and out of the total calories 25% should come from essential fat such as omega 3, MUFA and PUFA (vegetable oils, salmon, tuna, flaxseeds). Not all fat are bad, the real culprit are the saturated fats such as red meat , full cream milk and products, butter, vanaspati ghee. Therefore, keep intake of saturated fat below 10 percent total fat intake.
Vitamins don’t provide energy to the runner but they are still an important part of their diet as they help to neutralize the free radicals produce during exercise which can damage cells. Vitamins C, E, and A are antioxidants present in whole foods.
Calcium: Good sources of calcium include low-fat dairy products, dark leafy vegetables, sesame seeds, and eggs. To prevent osteoporosis and stress fractures calcium rich diet is very essential for runners.
Iron is essential to supply oxygen to the cells. Good natural sources of iron include organ meats, figs, dates, rice flakes.