Whether you run 5 K’s, 10 K’s or marathons, sports nutrition plays an important part in your running plan. Listed below are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about nutrition and running.
Q: In order to stay properly hydrated, how much fluid or water do I need to drink?
A: Dehydration affects your health, your mental capabilities and your running performance so it’s really important to get enough fluids before, during, and after your run. At a minimum, you should be drinking 8 – 8 ounce glasses of water in a day.
But when exercising, especially in the heat, longer runs, or heavier exertion runs, the recommended amount is 16 ounces of fluid 2 hours before running and then more before you start. If you are on a longer run, bring fluid with you (I recommend the Fuel Belt Helium).
After a long run, be sure to replenish body fluid lost by drinking two cups of water for every pound lost through sweat. Thirst is just a sign of dehydration, so don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink.
Q: Should I eat more calories when I am working out?
A: Longer or more intense runs will burn more calories than shorter, easy runs, so the amount of calorie replacement will depend on your workout. It is okay to eat fewer calories if your goal is to lose some weight.
Q: Whats the best fluid: water or a sports drink like Gatorade or Powerade?
A: If you are running for under an hour, then water should do just fine. However, if your workouts are longer than an hour or you are a heavy sweater, you will benefit from the carbohydrate and electrolyte replacement of a sports drink.
Also, there has been a lot of information out about coconut water and how good it is for you. It is considered by many, better than a sports drink for nutrient replacement.
Q: Is it a myth that a high protein diet builds muscle?
A: Yes, this is a myth. Running and working out or weight training builds muscle. If you eat more protein than your body needs it will convert to fat. This is the same if you eat too many carbohydrates or fat calories too.
High protein diets can not only be harmful to your kidneys, but can also cause dehydration. The recommended daily serving of protein is 2-3 servings and only elite athletes need to eat more. Some good protein food sources are poultry, lean meat, fish, nuts, beans, seeds and eggs.
Q: What food will provide me with energy for my runs?
A: Your body will first burn carbohydrates as it’s source of energy. Some good complex carbohydrate sources are whole grain cereals, breads, and pasta, beans and starchy veggies. Runners should eat 6 – 11 servings a day, as well as nutrient rich veggies, fruits and low fat dairy products.
Q: Should I cut out fat altogether?
A: No, your body needs good fats, but your diet should consist of low fat foods. Remember that fat-free foods don’t always mean that those foods are good for you. But when choosing dairy products and meats, try to choose low-fat and lean cuts. Remember to eat foods that are a good source of fiber as well.
Q: What about supplements that claim to increase performance?
A: Another common myth! The best way to improve performance is hard work and proper training. Along with training, remember how important it is to eat a well-balanced diet, rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, moderate in lean meats and protein sources, and low in fat.