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When emerged in a long distance training routine it is important to commit to including proper nutrition in your plan. Your body needs fuel to perform at its best. Since you will be putting yourself through rigorous training runs and various strength training and cross training activities it is imperative you provide your body with the nutrition you need to keep going.
Learn from the founder of Fuel + Fitness, Sandra Koulourides, what to include in your diet to maintain the proper balance necessary for optimal training performance.
Balance is the Key: Training and Nutrition Go Hand in Hand
The proper balance of nutrients, carbohydrates, protein and fat, are essential for optimal performance. Nutrition is as important, if not more important, than training. The nutrients have different functions, thus the body needs a balance of all of them.
Adequate carbohydrates (carbs) are necessary for sustained energy production. During very high-intensity workouts, the body uses predominantly carbs for energy. During moderate intensity, fat stores are used for energy as long as carbs are available. Once carb stores are depleted, the individual will “hit the wall.” Because of this, carbohydrates are the most important nutrient for fueling the body. The more active you are, the more carbs you will need.
Protein is also important for building and repairing the body, especially after workouts. Fat helps the body absorb essential vitamins and also helps the fuel stick around longer so that the individual is not hungry all the time.
Eating Prior to Running:
The amount of time between eating and running depends on the size of your meal. If you eat a full meal, you should wait at least 1-2 hours before you run. If you just eat a small snack, one hour or less would be adequate. If your meal or snack was eaten three hours or more prior to your run, having a small snack that includes carbs will help you train at a higher intensity.
Avoid Simple Carbs:
Eating a balance of carbs, protein, and fat is key to getting results from training. Prior to running, carbs are essential for energy. Simple carbs should be avoided before a workout because of the effect they have on blood sugar levels. Simple carbs (cookies, candy, chocolate) raise blood sugar quickly which is then followed by a drop in blood sugar due to the action of insulin.
Eating After Your Run:
After training a combination of carbs and protein is key. Fueling should be 30 minutes to one hour after a run. The body is in need of carbs to refill its’ energy stores. Protein is needed to build and repair the tissue damage that has occurred during your training. If you do not adequately refuel both carbs and protein after runs, you will have sub-optimal results as well as lack energy in future training. In addition, making sure you hydrate adequately before during and after running is important for performance. During intense training, it is not uncommon to lose several pounds due to sweat. Even a 1% drop in body weight due to sweat can increase body temperature as well as heart rate, which will limit how hard you can push yourself.
What is your favorite pre-training meal that supports proper nutrition?
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