- Drink your meal. Commercial protein drinks, carb drinks and sports drinks can all be useful ways to stock up on fuel before a run. These are especially useful for the early morning runner who doesn't have time to eat breakfast and then wait to run. Drinking meals is also easier on some runner's digestions than a big meal right before a run around the block.
Once you start running on a regular basis you will notice that your base metabolism starts to run a bit faster, which means that you will be burning up more calories. This is great news for those who want to shed a few pounds. Those who don't need to lose any weight will need to eat a little extra.
Nutritional snacks such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grain sandwiches, smoothies, nuts, eggs, yogurts, and protein or health-food bars can all help to alleviate the dreaded energy slump. Healthy snacks will also ensure that your muscles and liver are always ready for further exercise, and additionally, you will have sufficient energy to get through day-to-day activities.
Smaller meals more often will also keep your blood sugar levels more steady and your metabolism running high. Aim for three smaller meals, and two to three snacks throughout the course of the day.
The timing of your meals will be crucial to the success of your running performance. Not enough fuel and the tank will run out. Too much fuel too soon can be just as disastrous as not enough.
The ideal formula for peak performance is to eat a meal rich in complex carbohydrates two to three hours prior to your run. After finishing your session it is a great idea to have a glucose drink within 15 minutes to replenish tired muscles looking for fuel. Eating a meal rich in protein and complex carbohydrates in the first two hours after your run will assist with muscle and tendon repair.
As we have already said, the average person can burn about 100 calories for every mile they run. If you are unsure about how many calories you are burning you can always use a calorie burning counter to figure it out. These counters use factors such as your body weight, age, fitness level, and gender, to approximately determine the calories you are burning up. Playing around with a calorie burning counter will demonstrate just how big a difference there can be in how many calories a runner can burn.
As a generalization, about one to two hours before your run you should aim for one to two cups of water plus 25 to 50 grams of carbs. Great choices are banana, porridge, bagel, wholegrain toast or an energy bar. Alternatively, use the water to combine with carb powder to make a drink.
As a rule, runners need to consume more calories than the non-runner. The consumption of good quality protein is vital for muscle repair, as is a steady supply of complex carbohydrates. Beware of empty calories that will only provide you with a sugar high and slump. Optimized running performances are dependent on consuming quality foods in a larger quantity, as well as careful timing of when you eat.
Scott Gray is a fitness enthusiast and freelance writer, currently consulting for Fitness Tips 101 – a company that provides tips about how to get six pack abs, ways to lose belly fat – in fact, all types of fitness tips!
Find more tips for beginners in our Newbie Runners section.
And be sure to visit our Sports Nutrition section to continue fueling your active lifestyle.