If running is your favorite training routine, you need to make it a priority to learn everything that can possibly optimize your sprint. In addition to performing the most beneficial training exercises for improve your runningthere are many specific food choices you need fuel your body. But just as important as knowing the right foods is knowing the worst foods that runners should avoid at all costs. Don’t run away just yet, because we have expert advice on what not to eat. Read on to find out more, and then don’t miss The 6 best exercises for strong, toned arms in 2022, according to the trainer.
Eat this, not that! speak with Amy Goodson, a Registered Dietitian and Certified Sports Dietitian, who explains that no specific food will make or break a runner’s training regimen or diet. If you’re a serious runner who puts in miles every week, eating a nutrient-dense diet is key to properly fueling your body and aiding in recovery.
What should be on your list of things not to eat? Stay away from foods that contain fewer nutrients, as they generally add more body fat instead of building muscle. Processed foods should be avoided as they have undergone many changes from their natural state, which may include the addition of flavorings, preservatives, food additives, nutrients or substances whose use in foods such as fats, sugars, and salts, according to the Department of Agriculture (via Mayo Clinic).
Some examples of processed foods include sugary breakfast cereals, cookie and cake mixes, packaged instant soups, soft drinks, packaged breads and reconstituted meat products. According Mayo Clinic, some of the most processed foods are deli meats, crackers, microwaveable dinners, and frozen ready meals. Other processed foods are salad dressing and potted pasta sauce.
Goodson stresses the importance of limiting the consumption of highly processed foods containing saturated fats and added sugars. Instead, opt for nutrient-dense foods, such as vegetables, fruits, dairy products, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins. She advises, “Look specifically to eat foods high in antioxidants (usually produce) and omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish like salmon, trout and tuna, nuts and seeds.”
In the run-up to a run or race, it’s especially important for runners to limit high-fat meals and snacks, which are likely to sit heavily on their stomachs and make them feel less well. “Focusing on carbs in your pre-race snack with some protein is the best option for refueling. If you’ve eaten a meal within 2 hours, you may just be able to eat a carb snack to fuel the race, depending on the duration and it’s intense,” says Goodson.
Generally, a diet high in complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and protein is very beneficial for runners. “Carb requirements are based on the amount of running/training you do. The more you run, the more carbs you need. The less you move, the less you need. Think of it like driving your car; if you drive your car around a lot you have to put gas in it more frequently. It’s the same concept with the body,” says Goodson.
She adds, “Runners should eat often throughout the day to keep their bodies well fueled. Most runners can think of shaping their plate with 1/3 complex carbs, 1/3 high-quality protein, 1/3 vegetables, some fat. , and fruit with meals on normal training days. On harder and more intense training days, this plate should increase to 1/2 complex carbs, 1/4 high-quality protein, 1/4 vegetables, some fat, and a fruit. snacks should consist of carbohydrates and protein such as whole grain crackers and cheese, Greek yogurt with berries and granola, whole grain bread with peanut butter and a banana, hummus with potato chips pita and string cheese, etc.
Alexa is the associate editor of Eat This, Not That!’s Mind + Body, overseeing the M+B channel and bringing readers compelling stories about fitness, wellness and self-care. Read more