Should Cleanses Be a Part of a Runner's Diet?

After we stuff ourselves silly and spend too much time sitting on the couch, in the car, and on airplanes over the holidays, recommitting to health and fitness in the New Year is a tradition of sorts for many of us. From weight loss to increased performance, we are all interested in starting 2014 off on the right foot. In an effort to begin anew, many health-conscious folks consider trying a cleanse. While this can be a great way to detox and reset your system, runners need to select a diet that can be safely executed during training.

While a cleanse is distinctly different than a fast, there are similar exercise adjustments that can be made to suit both diets. Although there are few studies that have looked at the effects of cleanses, much of the research on the subject of calorie restriction comes from studying Muslim athletes during Ramadan, when they are expected to fast from sunrise to sundown. That literature tends to suggest that one can continue to train safely during this time, but may need to reduce the length and intensity of workouts. To be sure, you'll get out of your body what you put into it.

More: How to Ease Into and Out of a Cleanse

How to Run While on a Cleanse

Beth Gillespie, a nutrition consultant in the San Francisco Bay area, says an athlete who is on a cleanse may need to back off in workouts. "What I've found is that when athletes do cleanses, it tends to slow down their times, so they will likely have a few days with some fatigue that will affect performance. You don't need to avoid running, but listen to your body, as you may want to run fewer miles." Put simply, this isn't the time to ramp up your training, but following a less intense running schedule is perfectly appropriate.

When it comes to detoxing, there are countless programs you could follow. If you're going to run while cleansing, Gillespie recommends regimens that aren't all about restricting calories. With that said, up to three-day juice cleanses, like those popularized by BluePrintCleanse, shouldn't interrupt your training drastically because they are so short. These cleanses encourage a higher intake of nutrients through fruit and vegetable juices, which can boost your immune system and have an overall positive effect on both mind and body.

More: 10 Bitter Foods That Cleanse the Body and Boost Performance

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