You may be contemplating your first or 5,000th run—a morning jog with friends, an upcoming 5K or marathon or maybe an ultra? Whatever the case, nutrition can make a difference. Here’s three steps to help you put your best foot forward.
Eating Should Be Fun
Food provides the nutrients necessary to get you through your run, support your nutritional needs and supply your day with energy. But let’s get real – eating is fun! The aim is to accomplish all of these goals – get your nutrients, fuel your body and for goodness sake, enjoy each meal.
The experts even agree–the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourages us to build a healthy eating pattern by consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables everyday, eating whole grains, choosing fat-free and low-fat dairy, enjoying an array of protein foods, such as seafood, lean meats, poultry, eggs, beans, peas, nuts and soy products, and focusing on better fats, like polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Here are some simple tips to start with to ensure that you’re having fun while nourishing right.
– Venture into unchartered territories…in the supermarket. Pick up a food that you haven’t cooked with before and find a recipe to create a quick and easy meal with it. For example, if you rarely prepare parsnips, buy one and find a new recipe online to serve it up!
– ‘Tis the season. Shop for foods in season. Check out http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/ to find out what fruits and veggies are in season and maybe, for dinner!
– Don’t say no. Avoid eliminating entire food groups from your meal plan. If you don’t drink milk (and like dairy), don’t say no to yogurt or low-fat cheese!
– Switch-up protein. Swap steak for seafood, try lean ground turkey instead of ground beef, top a grain with unsalted nuts or beans instead of meat, see what you can do with tofu or even top greens like kale or collard greens with a poached egg (this is my fav). Mix and match your foods with alternate protein sources.
– Have good taste. Healthy food doesn’t need to be bland. Try adding fresh herbs and spices to add zing to a vegetable stew, flavor a rice dish with parsley and mint, use mustard seed on chicken breast or chop fresh basil for a tasty tomato sauce (even though I neglect most plants, I seem to have a loving relationship with my basil plant—if I can do it, you can too.
Don’t Run on Empty
Before you tie your laces, give your body the fuel it needs to get you through your run – choose foods that are moderate in protein, relatively low in fat and fiber to minimize gastric distress (also known as that barfy feeling), and focus on foods that are high in carbohydrate to provide you lasting energy. Don’t over think it, but don’t ignore it. Try something simple like PowerBar, peanut butter and jelly sandwich or fruit and low-fat yogurt a couple of hours before your exercise bout. Include hydration in your pre-exercise plan as well: have 14-20 fluid ounces about 2-3 hours before you get started.
Play with Your Food
Train your nutrition. Practice what you eat. Use trial and error to see what works and what doesn’t. Play with your food to see what sits well with you before a run. It’s like your sneaks…you still wearing the same brand that you started with? I didn’t think so. Food is surprisingly similar. You are going to go through numerous types of gels, bars, drinks and breakfasts to figure out what works for you. Play with it…you’ll find your fit.
This blog is from AppforHealth.com guest contributor, Jenna A. Bell, Ph.D., R.D.