As the saying goes, you are what we eat, and when it comes to improving your fitness, diet is key to your success. Nutrition for runners means fresh and frequent meals that provide your body with enough fuel to sustain the additional exercise you’re doing. An average adult needs to consume between 2,000 and 2,500 calories per day, depending on your age, height and gender. If you run 1 mile, you will burn around 100 calories. If you’re training for a marathon and running on a daily basis, you will need to pay close attention to the food you’re eating and make sure not to under-eat, as this can lead to unnecessary weight loss and a reduction in muscle mass. Eating vitamin rich, nutritious meals will help make your body stronger and healthier as you train.
If you run for 3-5 miles, here are a couple of healthy snacks you can enjoy after your run:
- A toasted crumpet with a tsp of strawberry jam
- 1 scotch pancake and low fat Greek yoghurt and a tsp of raw honey
- Apple slices and peanut butter
- Baked beans and a slice of wholemeal bread
- Berry smoothie with one banana and coconut water
- Carrots and hummus.
For those looking to become a runner to lose weight, it’s important to note that while improving your fitness and stamina as a runner, you may notice that your weight increases. This doesn’t mean you’re piling on the pounds, but rather that your body is losing fat and building muscle. You might also find that as you begin to drink more fluids to sustain your new energetic lifestyle, fluid retention can also have an impact on the number you see on the scales. It’s better to avoid weighing yourself while training or taking up running, and instead take note of your overall health and wellbeing. If you’re eating a runner's diet rich in whole, nutritious foods, with plenty of protein and vegetables, and you’re not overcompensating after a long workout, you should see changes in your physical appearance and sense of wellbeing, whether it be gaining muscle, losing fat, toning up or feeling less tired and lethargic.
What to Eat as a Runner
If you’re new to running, you might be looking for creative, healthy and delicious recipe ideas to help get you inspired to cook from scratch at home. When it comes to meal planning and recipes, you should always try to stock up on real and wholesome food rather than processed and convenience meals. The concept of clean eating is one that many runners choose as it emphasises the health benefits of avoiding heavily processed food and opting instead to eat fresh vegetables, high-quality and organic meat, fish and eggs, and bulking up recipes with beans, pulses and nuts.
For more information on a clean-eating runner's diet, check out this article from Runners World: Four Easy Ways for Runners to Eat Clean.
We’ve partnered up with some local fitness bloggers to bring you some delicious and healthy recipe ideas to enjoy as a runner:
Tri-colour Quinoa Salad with Roasted Vegetables
What to Drink as a Runner
Water accounts for 60% of your total body weight, so keeping hydrated is an essential part of a runner's diet - and even more so while working out. Drinking water helps to regulate body temperature as well as prevent unnecessary snacking. Often, we can mistake thirst for hunger, so to avoid taking on additional calories, always drink a glass of water before preparing a snack or meal to ensure your body is sufficiently topped up with fluids.
It’s recommended that the average person should aim to drink around 2 to 2.5 litres of fluid per day. During a workout though, you could lose anywhere between 0.5 and 1.5 litres of water per hour as you sweat, so it’s important to carry a water bottle with you while on a run, and sip water often throughout a workout.