If you're new to running, not only do you need to work on the sport physically, but also in the kitchen!
Running well requires you to eat well and fuel your body. The body responds better to certain foods in terms of using them for running fuel and more than that, the body needs enough food to store for you to have as fuel on your longer runs.
As you change up your diet to support your new running goals, avoid these 5 food groups:
- Refined carbohydrates – When it comes to endurance sports and activities, the body’s main source of fuel is carbohydrates. It gets these from when we consume carbohydrates that are then stored for access later. If you eat refined carbohydrates however, they are processed quickly, offering little in the way of carbohydrates available to be stored, and making it difficult for your body to have a fuel source during your run. Stay away from refined carbohydrates like white bread, white pasta and plain rice, and opt for complex carbohydrates like whole grain breads, brown rice and ancient grains, including quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat. These carbohydrates are digested more slowly and offer much more opportunity for storage for running fuel!
- Sugary foods – Talk about lethargic! Sugary foods simply offer you a spike in energy, along with an associated spike in blood sugar, followed by that inevitable crash when your blood sugar drops quickly and all you want to do is lie on the couch. The result is no fuel in your body to use to run later, fatigue making you not want to run at all, or worse yet, a mid run energy crash because you have run out of fuel from your sugary breakfast. Instead of using sugar as your energy source, fill up on whole foods that offer a slow release of fuel, preventing a spike in blood sugar and crash in energy. Here are 5 great tips on how to eliminate sugar from your diet.
- Beans and legumes – These slow digesting, protein rich carbohydrates are not the answer in the 15 minutes before you run. They’ll fill your stomach, and then when you start running simply cause bloating, gas and cramps. Instead, have these when you have 8-10 hours of digestion time before you run. When you do this, they become a great way to get enough protein to recover and rebuild your muscles and to offer you a sustainable source of fuel which your body can store to help give you energy on your run that evening or the next morning.
- Fried Foods – Not only do deep fried foods offer minimal in terms of nutritional value and energy that your body can store for your run later, but they also take a lot of energy to process and digest. Your body has to work hard to break down the fat via the liver and gallbladder and this takes energy and calories, which could be putting into your run later. Furthermore, as this influx of fat is passed through the bloodstream, it makes the blood flow with more difficulty – not a good thing when you are running and need the blood to flow quickly to deliver the oxygen to your cells so you can run faster!
- Sports Drinks – Not actually a food, but a common mistake nonetheless. Sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade are touted as being great for energy when you are active. In reality, they are high in sugar, leading the to the problems mentioned above, and are not actually necessary when you aren’t doing long endurance activities - like running for 2 or more hours – which cause a large loss of electrolytes. Even then, opt for options with minimal sugar to speed up recovery without depleting energy. Otherwise, when it comes to hydrating, water does the trick!