Running Tips For Beginners: Improve Your Performance With The Right Foods
Eating the right foods helps you to get the most out of your running sessions and speeds up the recovery process. A healthy, balanced diet is the key to long-term health and optimum fitness, but the food you eat before, during and after a workout can also boost your energy levels, increase alertness and reduce recovery time.
Eating a balanced diet with plenty of complex carbohydrates, lean protein, healthy fats, fresh fruit and vegetables helps to ensure that you have all the nutrients you need to sustain your running sessions and improve your fitness levels.
Avoid quick-fix diets and eating plans that severely restrict particular food groups, as this can affect your performance and may even damage your health. Low-carb diets often lead to mental and physical fatigue, while some low-fat diets can cause mood swings and lack of energy.
Eat plenty of complex carbohydrates, such as wholegrain bread, wholewheat pasta and brown rice, as these will help to provide energy and improve your performance. The more time you spend running and working out, the more carbohydrates you need to include in your diet.
Lean protein, such as poultry, low-fat dairy products, fish, beans and lean meat, is essential for building and repairing muscle. Eating a small amount of protein before and after your running session can reduce recovery time and help to repair the muscles.
Eating Before a Running Session
Always leave at least three hours between eating a large meal and starting your running session, as it will give the food time to digest.
To improve your running performance, eat a healthy snack that contains both carbohydrates and protein 30-60 minutes before beginning your session. Cottage cheese, yogurt, milk, soy-based drinks and eggs are great sources of protein for runners, while dried fruit, wholegrain cereal, crackers and oatmeal help to boost carbohydrate reserves.
Avoid fatty, high-fiber and starchy foods before a running session, as these can be difficult to digest and will affect your energy levels.
You won't usually need snacks for short running sessions of less than 30 minutes, but you will need to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. For sessions of 30-60 minutes, you can also use a sports drink to replace electrolytes.
For longer sessions, you will need to take some snacks to boost your energy levels. Dried fruit, bananas, yogurt drinks, soy-based products and milk are all great running snacks to keep you going. You can also use carbohydrate gel, energy bars and other sports products for a quick energy boost.
Finally, it's also important to have a snack and replace lost fluids after your running session. Eating a meal or large snack that contains both protein and carbohydrates helps to speed up recovery time after a workout.