Exercise, sports competition in general and running, in particular, all need a complete, balanced and reasonable diet. Only with good nutrition can you train and compete with the highest performance and results. So what is the running diet? What runners should pay attention to? Let’s find out with us.
What is a running diet?
There’s really no such thing as a specialized runner’s diet. The type of diet that is good for runners is the same healthy diet as that generally recommended for everyone.
A healthy running diet is high in carbohydrates, low in fat, and contains enough but not too much protein. This translates to approximately 60% of your calories coming from carbohydrates, 25% from fat, and 15% from protein. Every person is unique, and they may respond better to slightly different proportions. A sizable minority of people, for example, are insulin resistant to some extent. A diet high in carbohydrates will result in large swings in insulin levels and excessive fat storage for them. In that case, a diet consisting of 50% carbohydrates, 25% fat, and 25% protein may make more sense.
Nutrition principles of a running diet
During a run, carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of fuel (or any exercise). High-quality carbs should account for 60-70 percent of a runner’s calories.
Refined carbohydrates, such as sugar, soda, or white flour, should be avoided because they cause blood sugar spikes and crashes, which can impair performance.
Glycogen is a type of stored carbohydrate that is held in reserve in your muscles and liver for use during workouts. However, when preparing for a long race, it is critical to increase your carbohydrate intake prior to the event.
Don’t overdo it – 200-300 extra calories of carbs per day, in addition to your regular healthy diet, is plenty. Those carbs will provide fuel for your run, and the extra calories will be burned off.
Though you should try to eat high-fiber complex carbohydrates whenever possible, eating high-fiber foods right before a run can actually impair performance. Fiber takes a long time to digest, and you want your body to focus its energy on running rather than digestion.
So, for a few days before your big run, avoid high-fiber foods like bran, beans, and broccoli. You should also avoid fatty foods that are difficult to digest.
Protein aids in the repair of muscle that has been damaged during exercise. A balanced diet that includes foods like lean meats, legumes, and low- or nonfat dairy products provides enough protein for most people.
Too much protein right before a race can hurt performance because your body has to work to digest it, diverting energy away from your run.
Your body requires fat to function and stay hydrated. Salmon, olive oil, and flaxseed are all good sources of fat.
However, avoid high-fat foods because they can be difficult to digest, and definitely limit fat consumption the morning of the race.
Because your body loses so much water when you sweat, proper hydration during exercise is critical. Water aids your body’s elimination of the lactic acid it produces while running.
Getting enough water and other fluids keeps you hydrated, which can raise your heart rate, put you at risk of heat-related injury, and impair your performance.
You should begin increasing your water intake two days before a big race. Drink water or sports drinks, but avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can dehydrate you.
See also: Best Running Nutrition: What to Eat Before, During & After Runs
How to make a stamina diet plan?
You must be very careful about what you eat before, during, and after a long race. Eating the right foods can help you maximize your endurance and recover faster after a race.
The week before the race
As you reduce your mileage in preparation for a race, you should also reduce your calorie intake, eating about 100 calories less per day for every mile less you run. Focus your diet on the essentials four days before a 10K or a week before a half- or full-marathon, starting with plenty of carbs, a moderate amount of protein, and a little fat.
The night before the race
Consume a high-carbohydrate meal for dinner. Now is not the time to experiment with new or exotic foods.
Avoid acidic foods and anything else that could cause heartburn or stomach upset…and don’t stuff yourself until you’re sick.
Shape magazine suggests eating a salad with cooked quinoa, grilled chicken, walnuts, and raisins to get the fiber, protein, and fat you need in a meal that is easy to digest and won’t leave you feeling stuffed.
The morning of the race
Again, this is not the time to experiment; stick to your usual pre-long-run breakfast.
Keep it light, and give yourself a couple of hours to digest your meal.
Include carbs, protein, and a small amount of fat. A whole-grain bagel or toast with a little peanut or almond butter is a good option, and for fluids, including fruit, juice, water, or a sports drink. Alternatively, pair your beverages with toast, yogurt, and a banana.
Because running a marathon puts a strain on your immune system, start your day with an immune-boosting breakfast shake made with orange juice, strawberries, walnuts, whey protein, and glutamine (an amino acid).
Make sure to rehydrate before the race. Two to three hours before the race, drink at least 16 ounces of water or a sports drink (such as Gatorade).
During a long run
Different running experts have different suggestions for what to eat and drink during a long race.
To avoid dehydration, Livestrong.com recommends rehydrating with water or a sports drink during any run lasting more than 60 minutes.
Drink about 6 ounces about 30 minutes before the starting gun.
Throughout the race, drink the same amount every 20 minutes. A good rule of thumb is that one ounce is equal to one large gulp of liquid.
During long runs, we recommend drinking a carb-rich sports drink or consuming gels or chews to maintain energy while avoiding blood sugar spikes.
After the race
It’s critical to get something to eat as soon as you cross the finish line.
For races lasting an hour or less, follow your run with a carbohydrate and protein-rich snack. Greek yogurt with granola, blueberries, and raspberries is a good source of protein, carbohydrates, and antioxidants. Hummus on pita bread with chopped fresh vegetables would also suffice.
After a longer race, carbo-reload with a nutrition bar, bagel, or piece of fruit within 15 minutes of crossing the finish line because this is when muscles can absorb glycogen the most readily.
Getting enough protein will also help your body begin to repair your muscles. Within an hour of cooling down, try to eat a full meal with carbs, protein, and fat. A bean burrito or pasta with meat sauce are both good choices. Continue to eat high-carb foods for an entire day after the race to replenish your glycogen reserves.
You won’t find yourself running on empty if you eat well before a race, get the right nutrients while you run, and refuel properly.
Other tips on a running diet to boost your stamina
Don’t run on empty
You’ve probably heard that “food is fuel,” and this is especially true when it comes to running.
A healthy diet is important for all athletes, but what you eat and when you eat it is especially important for runners.
If you don’t properly fuel up before a marathon or half-marathon, you might not make it to the finish line.
If you do not properly replenish your body after a race, it will take you longer to recover.
While a 5K may not necessitate a change in diet, longer runs (particularly half-and full marathons) necessitate proper nutrition in the days preceding the race.
Drinking water is the simplest way to start boosting your stamina right away. Inadequate hydration increases fatigue, slows post-workout recovery, and significantly reduces overall physical performance.
So, how much should you consume? Opinions differ, but a safe amount is about 30 ml per kg of weight (or 12 ml per pound) daily.
For example, if you weigh 70 kg, you should drink 1800 ml (70 * 30) of water per day. Drink 2000 ml (170 * 12) of water per day if you weigh 170 pounds.
Furthermore, remember to bring a bottle of tap water with you on your runs and take a sip every 10-15 minutes to compensate for the fluid lost through sweat.
Try out some natural energy boosters.
If you want to improve your general physical performance (stamina included), you could try taking some natural supplements to aid you in the matter. The most widely used and well-known options include beta-alanine, Panax quinquefolium, L-carnitine, and some others.
The main thing to look for in dietary supplements is their scientific background (do they really work?) and the quality of the product itself (is it really what it claims to be?). Of course, price is important, but it is always secondary, because your health is more valuable than money.
You can buy the aforementioned supplements separately or as part of a verified complex that has been shown to be effective over time.
As you work to improve your running stamina, keep in mind that it takes time to see results. It’s a good place to start by showing up, sticking to a plan, and being consistent with your training.
When you’re ready to step up your game, the information above can help you fully comprehend what a running diet is and how to create a running stamina diet.
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