Many of us run so that we can reward ourselves by eating whatever we want. Or, perhaps, vice versa: we eat so that we can run wherever we want.
Either way, it's true that you burn a slew of calories when you run. Even if you are running specifically to lose weight, you should adjust your diet so that you give your body the extra fuel it needs. And you should not feel guilty in the least to give yourself the occasional culinary treat; you work hard on the road, and one of the payoffs is that you should be able to reward yourself to otherwise sinful foods when the mood strikes you to indulge.
All good things in moderation, of course, which begs the question: just how much should you be eating and how often? At the risk of over-quantifying what is really best left to your intuition (or, perhaps better put, your "gut instinct"), here is how you can get a sense of your proper diet proportions based on your weight and how far/fast you run.
The US recommended daily allowance (RDA) for the average person is 2000 calories. In the United States, "average" means relatively sedentary, so as a runner you will need more fuel. Just how much more depends on how many calories you burn on your daily run. The following chart should give you an idea of how many calories you kill per hour of running, based on your pace and body weight.
|Pace (Minutes per mile)|
|Source: "Exercise & Physiology" (Lea & Febiger, 1986).|
Add these calories to the recommended 2000 calories, and you should have a rough idea of what your daily calorie intake should be to maintain a healthy body weight. Following the recommended runner's diet of 60 percent carbohydrates, 25 percent fat and 15 percent protein, your diet should be roughly the following (note that there are four calories per gram of carbohydrates and protein, versus nine calories per gram of fat):
|Daily Calorie Level|
|Carbohydrates||300 grams||338 grams||375 grams||413 grams||450 grams||488 grams|
|Total fat||56 grams||63 grams||70 grams||76 grams||83 grams||90 grams|
|(Saturated fat)||(19 grams)||(21 grams)||(23 grams)||(25 grams)||(28 grams)||(30 grams)|
|Protein||75 grams||85 grams||94 grams||103 grams||113 grams||122 grams|