Fuel Your Training For Performance & Recovery
The field of nutrition can often be very confusing with lots of conflicting advice. We all know the basic dos and don’ts, like eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and don’t eat 8 bars of chocolate for breakfast!
However, as a runner, how can your nutritional choices look after your general well-being and boost your performance in events & training?
The first step is to ensure you eat a ‘healthy balanced diet’. To get the best out of your body, you need to eat the right foods in the right quantities and, most importantly, do not restrict or deprive your body of key food groups.
Carbohydrates – Fuel the body – maintain blood glucose levels during exercise and replaces muscle glycogen.
Proteins – Important for muscle repair and recovery – highly active people will need to slightly increase their protein intake.
Fats – Essential fats are important for general health and well-being. Fats are needed for the absorption of vitamins A D E K & micronutrients.
Vitamins – Minerals – Although needed in similar amounts, vitamins and minerals are vital for structure and function. They are also necessary to ‘unlock’ the energy contained in macronutrients.
Low GL carbohydrates release their sugars more slowly, therefore, making it easier to balance blood sugar levels.
Your Training & Nutrition
Remember, good nutrition makes its greatest contribution in helping you recover between training sessions.
- Your diet must meet the demands placed on your body by training.
- Eat enough carbohydrate and start fuelling as soon as possible after training – when muscle capacity to refuel is at its greatest.
- Organise yourself – you must refuel so take snacks and fluids with you on longer runs (i.e. more than one hour).
- Fit eating around your training – Try eating smaller portions more frequently.
- Try not to miss breakfast, but if you do, make sure you have a mid-morning high carbohydrate snack.
- If you’re training in the evening, eat something around 3-4 PM and allow at least 2 hours for digestion before training.
Rest days are important, use the extra time to eat sensibly by making up for hurried mealtimes on training days.
Use the Public Health England EATWELL GUIDE principles as a basis to plan your meals:
- Create meals and snacks to replace starchy foods.
- Try to have 5+ servings of fruit and vegetables each day.
- Remember to include at least 3 servings of dairy food each day.
- Include at least 2 good sources of protein each day.
- Limit food with high fat, they may prevent you eating enough carbohydrate.
- Remember, sugary food can aid refuelling, but these shouldn’t be the focus of your carbohydrate intake.
Maintain a high fluid intake and aim to avoid feeling thirsty.
Take a positive interest in food – Take care planning, choosing and cooking what you eat.
Enjoy your food – but don’t become too obsessed with your training diet.