The Grazing Eater
Rather than sit down to three meals a day, grazers snack every few hours. So they're fueled before a run, says Coleman, and they refuel quickly post-run, helping speed recovery. But grazers can eat too many or too few calories if they don't watch portion sizes. And while they rely on convenient options (granola bars, pretzels) these foods often lack protein.
"Look at the day as a whole and then work backward," says Coleman. She suggests calculating your daily calorie needs, then evenly divide those calories through the day. If you need 1,800 calories and like to eat six times, make six 300-calorie snacks with a mix of carbs and protein. Have whole-grain toast with almond butter, an apple and two pieces of string cheese, or half a turkey sandwich.
The Well-Planned Eater
Detail-oriented, you keep a food log and stick to a meal plan. But adhering too closely to that regimen can detach you from eating based on how your body feels. Planners eat something because their schedule says they have to, says Coleman, not necessarily because they want to.
Keep that food log, but write down what you eat and how you feel before and after meals and workouts, says Coleman. You may discover you need that post-run protein shake only after your toughest runs, not every run. On days you work out in the evening, you may find your usual dinner doesn't fill you up and you need more calories. Being in tune to those feelings will help you create a more flexible eating plan that better meets your needs.
The Indulgent Eater
"Running is an accomplishment," says Coleman, "but some think it means they can eat everything they want." It is okay to indulge in high-calorie or high-fat fare, but regularly overdoing it will hurt your health and running by adding (or preventing you from losing) extra pounds.
If you like a sweet treat every day, you don't have to give that up, says Coleman. But you do have to keep the portion size in check. Try a single square of fine dark chocolate rather than a whole box of cookies. If you find that's just not satisfying, you can still have the three-scoop sundae, just make it a once-a-week or so indulgence, rather than daily.Perfect your nutrition to boost your performance. Sign up for a race near you.