What running nutrition ideas do you see and hear often?
Here are a few of the most common ones I’ve been coming across lately:
The cleaner the diet, the better : Nutrient dense foods will help you recover faster and feel your best, but a super clean diet can hurt a runner’s performance if it cuts out too many carbohydrates. When Matt Fitzgerald looked at athletes around the world in The Endurance Diet, they ate a varied diet based on the traditional foods of their culture. The one constant was solid carbohydrate intake (of any form- not necessarily what we would say are the ‘cleanest’ carbs).
All sugar is the same and will raise blood sugar: Yes and no. Timing matters! Sugar is sugar, yet. But sugar consumed immediately after a hard workout will go directly to replace depleted glycogen stores and will not raise insulin or be stored as fat. If you can’t eat clean all the time (and let’s be honest, who can?!) you can occasionally plan your sugar intake post workout… along with healthy carbs and protein to help you recover well.
Likewise, simple carbs are easiest to digest before and during exercise as fuel, so there is still a place for honey, maple syrup, dried fruit or even sugar.
Eating too much of the wrong foods will cause weight gain: While eating too much food can cause weight gain (whether they are right or ‘wrong’ food choices), the issue becomes more complex for women runners. Weight gain (or plateaus) can also occur if you are not eating enough to support your workout routine or if your body is stressed out. Weight gain is not always calories in = calories out. Our bodies are complex!
Fasted runs = fat loss: This is controversial. It may be true if the runner is well fueled and the workout is not stress inducing. But fasted runs can also backfire if the body is already feeling stressed. This will cause the body to hold onto fat as back up fuel.
If you do a lot of fasted runs but seem stuck at a weight loss plateau, introduce 50-100 calories pre-run. In my experience with clients I’ve worked with, this simple tweak can help the body relax and break through a weight loss plateau.
I need to carb up before a big race: You don’t need to overdo carbs as much as you think! Simply replace some of the normal protein and fat in your diet with extra carbohydrates over the last 2-3 days leading up to the race. The dinner two nights out is most important to pay attention to quality and quantity of carbohydrates. The day before a race, keep meals simple and bland and be careful not to overeat. Carb ‘stuffing’ can leave you feeling bloated and lethargic on race day.
It can be confusing, especially when advice is often changing. Which is why I decided to team up with a few nutrition experts and a personal trainer to teach a Fit and Fueled course in January.
We’ll cover the 6 steps to running stronger and leaner… it’s packed with information, action sheets, runner’s grocery lists, sample meal plans and more! I’m so excited to kick this off in a few weeks!
What running nutrition myths have you heard or believed?
What have you learned the hard way?