Proper nutrition can help improve performance in any sport, not just running. This has been found year on year with numerous studies, but all too often nutrition and diet is overcomplicated with the latest ‘fad diet’.
Usually ‘fad diets’ are full of contradictions, leaving it difficult for the average person, never mind an athlete or runner, to determine the best diet suited for their goals.
The good news is; while food science can be complex, the guidelines to follow are fairly simple, whether you are an elite runner or simply looking to live a healthier lifestyle. Follow these nutrition tips to help maintain a healthy diet, boost your performance, and keep you feeling your best while training.
1. Eat whole foods – Choose the least processed forms of food such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and high fibre carbohydrates.
2. Stay hydrated: Dehydration equals decreased performance. Drink at least three litres of non-caloric drinks, such as water and green tea, every day.
3. Eat the rainbow often – Eat fruits or vegetables with each meal. Vary the colours of food often for the biggest benefit and maximum amount of nutrients.
5. Three for three – Eat smaller portions more often, spread evenly across the day. No excuses – you should be eating 4-6 meals/day! Aim for all three macronutrients (carbs, protein, and fat) every three hours for optimal fueling.
6. Don’t avoid healthy fats – Include healthy fats in your diet from foods such as nuts, natural nut butters, seeds, avocado and flaxseed. Aim for 25-30% of your total calories should come from heart healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
7. Don’t let your hard effort go to waste – After a tough running session don’t skip on a recovery meal. Ensure it has some slow releasing carbohydrates to replenish your energy stores.
8. Think wisely about supplements: Fuel first and supplement second. If you are not getting what you need through food, add a multivitamin supplement into your daily routine. Create a smart supplementation program that improves your performance without compromising your health or draining your wallet. Before you take any type of supplement, make sure to check in with your doctor or dietitian.
9. Sleep: The body recovers and repairs best when it is sleeping. Aim for eight hours of sleep and if you can’t get eight hours at night, consider power naps when you can.
And the final tip…
10. The 90/10 rule: Each meal and snack is an opportunity to fuel your body optimally. Choose the foods that are best for you 90% of the time and incorporate some of those foods that may not be the best, but are your favourites, 10% of the time!