For runners, diet is hugely important, not only for nutritional purposes but quite simply because food is fuel for the body. This means that runners will not have the energy they need to perform at their best without the right food and hydration. However, this can make dieting and weight loss quite difficult, as finding the line between overeating and providing your body with the fuel it needs is blurred. Understanding the best diets for runners can help you maintain high-quality performance while still losing weight.
Intermittent fasting has been one of the most popular diets of recent years, as it promises to both aids in weight loss and other functions necessary for a healthy body. For example, intermittent fasting has benefited metabolic health, cardiovascular function and aid in cell repair.
Many runners are likely to put off intermittent fasting, assuming that it might leave you too hungry to perform well during your run. However, recent studies have found that fasting does not interfere with the body’s ability to perform during a workout but does aid in weight loss. This means that intermittent fasting can be a very good diet for runners. Running while fasted means that the body is forced to burn fat stores rather than food, increasing weight loss processes. Before starting this program, it is useful first to learn more about intermittent fasting to find out how it can benefit you.
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy in your food, and this means that it is not realistic for runners to cut out all carbohydrates completely; in fact, this will likely lead to weight loss in the long run. Instead, it is advised that those looking to lose weight should switch to eating only complex carbohydrates.
Complex carbohydrates are unprocessed carbohydrates that contain high levels of nutrients and fiber, which are found naturally. Examples of high-quality complex carbohydrates include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat pasta
- Whole grains
Complex carbohydrates are made up of longer molecule chains than simple carbohydrates. This means that they take longer to break down and become digested, meaning that they keep fueling your body and keep you feeling full for longer.
High Protein Diet
A high protein diet can also be hugely beneficial to runners, helping you to keep fit and avoid potential injuries. Protein is necessary for sustaining many vital bodily functions, including digestion, metabolism, muscle repair, and immune system integrity. When it comes to a high protein diet for runners, the main point of focus should be on the amount of protein you are eating and the time you are consuming it. Research has found that consuming protein in the recovery window can help to speed up glycogen synthesis. Eating protein after your workout can mean that your muscles are at the best state to receive all of the nutrients, they need to repair themselves from the damage caused by running. This means that eating a high protein diet focused on post-workout protein consumption can help to improve running performance and recovery.