Healthy eating tips for runners
Running alone doesn’t improve performance – eating the right food is paramount too. Our guest columist Sowmya Ganesh tackles this topic with a few hints.
Running requires a lot of stamina, and to keep you going, make a few healthy choices that will be rewarding to your body both before and after the run. Here are some healthy eating tips for runners to get you started. When adopted as daily habits, these will do you immense good in the long run.
Eat your veggies
Prioritize vegetables. They are high in nutrients, fiber, and water. They can satisfy your hunger and keep you going for long. It is best to include a portion of veggies in both lunch and dinner everyday to reap the benefits that these natural foods have to offer. Healthy salads with fibre rich veggies and essential fat-rich dressings make for a perfect lunch as the minerals will help in post-run recovery while the fibre will keep you going for long.
Drink healthy fluids
Whether on the track or off, drinking plenty of water is vital to your body’s functioning. Your body requires water to function smoothly, and as a runner it is important to stay well hydrated to avoid the dangerous effects of dehydration. When water gets too boring, you can always switch to a healthy cold pressed juice to help you hydrate. A beet juice, for example, makes for a perfect runners drink as the nitrates in beets help boost performance. Tender coconut water based drinks are ideal too as they help replenish the body of lost electrolytes.
What you eat before you start your run determines how well you will be able to enjoy the run. And the amount you consume would depend on how intense your run is. If you feel a burning sense of hunger, a light bite before the run would help, but ideally, most runners prefer running on an empty stomach (if it’s a short run). If the run is going to be more intense, something easily digestible like bananas would help. High fibre and high fat foods take longer to digest and eventually slow you down during your run.
What you eat after a run would be responsible for the recovery your body needs, and to replenish you. It’s best to eat within 30 to 45 minutes after your run, and fuel up with foods rich in protein such as a fibre rich smoothie to keep you going, preferably based with potassium-rich bananas and nuts – important elements in a runner’s diet, as they help with reducing any inflammation caused by running. Later, you can have your actual meal which would be a course filled with whole, natural, and real foods.
Take it slow
Eat slowly, calmly, and allow yourself to enjoy your meals. It takes roughly 20 minutes for your brain to receive the signal of “fullness” from your stomach. So if you rush your meals, you eventually end up overeating. And to focus on what you eat, remove distractions such as the television or a smartphone.
Eat what’s real
Processed foods are a straight up ‘no’. They are filled with sugars, preservatives, and fats, and also stripped of all real nutritional content. Stay away from all the junk food as much as possible when shopping for groceries, and choose real, natural foods. These foods are fresh, and whole, and extremely rich in nutritional content. Fresh salads with seasonal produce are a great way to introduce real foods into your body.
These small changes would leave your body being forever grateful to you!