Getting the body to temple status is not just about fitness. Without the adequate “fuel” for the body, all the push-ups, sun salutations, Zumba and Spin classes in the World won’t help.
I have a relatively decent diet, but there are those moments in the month (I know you know what I’m talking about, girls) where for a few days it all goes to pot. More like seven but who’s counting? *grimace*
So I have decided to make sure that the other three weeks are going to be a little more healthy to counteract that one bad one. And everything in moderation is my rule, I could never … NEVER give up the chocolate or cheesecake. Life is far too short to be unhappy. (can I get an ‘AMEN’ from the people in the back? Alright now!)
If you Google ‘Running Nutrition’ SO many articles come up, it becomes confusing, but I read an article on Runners World which for ME makes sense, although I haven’t eaten EVERYTHING suggested. You may find another article that is better suited to you and your dietary requirements, so this isn’t about being the definitive guide or anything. I have also noticed that since I have started taking vitamins (Glucosamine, Omega 3 and Cod Liver) my energy levels have increased tenfold. Again, may not be for you!
Also if you have suggestions, they are well welcomed, so let me know!
Article below taken from Runners World “Eat Carbs, Eat Smart” © 2010 (original post here)
The night before your run: prepare
What to eat… pasta, rice, soup, wholegrain bread, vegetables
…and why: The week before a race is a time to reduce your training load and tuck into plenty of carbohydrates. This will allow you to draw on fully-stocked glycogen levels for energy during the run.
Aim to finish eating by 7pm – this will give your body time to process everything you’ve eaten.
Slow-burning complex carbs such as brown pasta or brown rice will keep your glycogen levels topped up until the race. But watch out – carbs that have been over-boiled or -baked may release their energy much more quickly.
Throw in some protein to slow the digestion of carbs and help fuel muscle growth. Chicken is a time-honoured source of protein for runners, but pork chops are a great alternative – a 3.5oz serving has 28g protein compared with 30g in the same amount of chicken. Throw in some iron-packed spinach or cashew nuts to boost your haemoglobin levels – and your energy.
It’s easy to get confused about what’s the right intake of fibre. Fibre slows digestion and stabilises blood sugar levels, keeping fatigue at bay. Too much fibre, however, can give you gastrointestinal discomfort the next day. Keep a healthy balance by sticking to complex carbs, which are almost always high in fibre.
On the morning of the race, blend low-fat plain yogurt with a banana, a little honey and some ice cubes for a pre-race shake. The yoghurt is packed with tyrosine which your body can convert into adrenaline, while the honey and banana will supply you with quick-release carbs to get you off to a good start.
During long runs and races: refuel
What to eat… nuts, sweets and dried fruit
…and why: After 90 minutes, your glycogen stores will be seriously depleted and will need restocking if you want to keep up the pace. In order to refuel on the go, your body requires carbs that it can convert quickly into glucose.
Nuts are among the best foods for this as they are full of Omega-3 unsaturated fat, protein and a nutrient called CoQ10, which helps cells produce energy. Unlike runners downing caffeine-based gels, your energy levels won’t crash when the effects wear off.
Dried fruit is among the runner’s best friends – and raisons and dates are top of the pile, with the most carbohydrates and protein. The process of drying fruit concentrates the nutrients within while simultaneously retaining the fruit’s natural sugar content, which can be easily absorbed into the bloodstream.
Avoid refined sugars which will take longer to give you an energy boost – natural honey rapid releases simple sugars will give you a kick to the finish. And while adding salt to recipes is often unnecessary, a pinch of sodium chloride will replenish the electrolytes you’ve sweated out.
After your run: recover
What to eat… Banana, whole-wheat bagels, quinoa
…and why: Carbohydrates, protein, electrolytes and fluid are the four magic words for fuelling your recovery.
Keep drinking. Although you won’t need telling at the finish line, it’s important to have plenty of water for the rest of the day.
Within half an hour of a run you should restock your glycogen store with a healthy balance of fast-releasing and slow-burning carbs, giving your muscles the food they need for recovery. The perfect food for this is quinoa. It’s packed full of protein and carbohydrates, and contains more magnesium, fibre, iron and folate than brown rice.
In any race longer than a half-marathon, much of the body’s natural mineral resources will have been sweated out. Of those lost, the most valuable are sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium, known as electrolytes. Replacing these electrolytes will help regulate muscle contraction and stave off post-race cramps.
A homemade milkshake will help replenish these – blend a banana (for potassium), half a glass of milk (calcium) and ¼ tsp salt (sodium) and if you fancy a treat, a scoop of ice cream.
On rest days
What to eat… fish, whole grains, whole fruits, salad
…and why: Your rest day strategy is just as important as your workout schedule. After a hard run, it can take up to two days to fully replenish your glycogen stores and your muscles need protein to rebuild. Eating slow-burning carbohydrates and protein will help your body to recover from the hard training of the days before and revitalise it for the next workout.
Opt for bread made from whole grains, such as cracked wheat or wheat flour, with 3-5 grams of fibre per serving. Unrefined grains contain both the bran and germ, which house nutrients including B-vitamins, iron, magnesium, selenium and fibre.
Couscous is one of the healthiest carbohydrates, packed with protein and calcium and very low in fat. The recipe below takes advantage of this understated staple, and combines it with Alaskan salmon. Fresh from the wild via sustainable fishing, this salmon contains high levels of Omega-3 oils for a healthy heart, high levels of protein for speedy muscle recovery and is lower in cholesterol and mercury than Atlantic salmon and many other types of fish.