At LGN we often get asked for practical food advice, and there is indeed a plethora of research and books available on the subject.
However, we firmly believe that there is no one eating structure for everyone and would instead encourage everybody to be aware of some basic food facts and then discover over time what works for their lifestyle and their physiological requirements.
As your running romance blossoms, in time so should your relationship with food. Challenge yourself and be prepared to try new options; your running body will demand new fuelling and you will hugely benefit by fuelling on healthy options and options that work with your body’s functionality and natural evolution.
Please find below an LGN quick list of ten tips, have a read, and maybe one idea or thought will inspire you.
1. Eat breakfast – You may do this already but maybe you need to look at other options. Porridge may not be sexy, but mixed with fruits et al and using a big enough bowl its glycaemic index helps sustain you and keeps you hunger free for longer.
2. Fruit bowl – On your desk at work, a bowl of beautiful fruit will provide your healthy low cal snacking fuel – and acts as a reminder when empty.
3. Calories – Have a think about how you are getting your calories. Very approximately it should be 25% from protein, 25% fat and 50% carbs. If you roughly want to know how many calories to eat per day take your weight in pounds and multiply it by 13 – this is your calories per day (very roughly).
4. How much of what? - You really don’t need more than 50% carbs unless you are a hardcore endurance runner. Try to use your 50% carb ‘ration’ for best effect – so aim to eat carbs just before your exercise and just after.
5. Look for carbs that are fibre-rich and have a high water content; these will actually keep you feeling fuller for longer.
6. Filling up – Protein is a better tool for feeling full than carbs, fact, so again another reason to ensure you use up your 25% quota.
7. Junk food – If you do have a soft spot for certain known junk foods, don’t struggle to completely exclude them, but maybe find a way to make them a treat: have a junk day of the week or a sweetie day, and this is the day to cave in and have your fill . . . but not on any other day.
8. Routine – Establish an eating pattern. I do not want you trying to starve yourself for a week – all I want is healthy sustainable eating: if we can eat 100 cals less than we burn each day, then we will be losing non-essential fat, full stop. So try and have a pattern, learn to distribute your required calories correctly. You need to eat the bulk of calories around when you are exercising (although not late at night) – so carbs pre and post exercise and then that leaves mainly protein and fats for when you're on your butt. This is a more effective way than going to bed with carbs sitting heavy in your belly . . . your body burns less when sleeping and thus more calories are converted to fat.
9. Eat often – If you go without food for too long your body triggers starvation mode and sets fire to your appetite. Pre-empt your hunger, rather than waiting till you are very hungry; this will help manage your portion sizes, as your body can only utilise a set amount of calories in one hit – if you eat more in one go than your body can deal with it will just store the food as fat. So little and often really does work.
10. Veg out – Are you getting 5 portions (minimum) of veg/fruit EVERY day? Not 2 or 3 times per week, but every day; you really do need the micronutrients and they will help keep you feeling fuller for longer. 3 tree clumps of lovely broccoli has the same calorie content as one square of choc . . . oh yes.
Happy running and eating, one and all!
The LGN Run Club team.