No matter how frequently you train or how much you mentally push yourself, if you aren’t fueling your body with the appropriate nutrients, you aren’t going to get very far. From embracing carbohydrates to remembering your hydration drinks, read on for the five essential nutrition tips you need to keep you running an extra mile.
1. Embrace carbohydrates (in general).
As an athlete, it is essential that you are fuelling your body with enough carbohydrates to keep yourself going. Your body requires carbohydrates as it converts them into glucose (a form of sugar) which then gets stored in your muscles as glycogen. Then, when you need more stamina, your body turns the glycogen into energy.
Therefore, it is vital that you plan to consume enough carbohydrates to keep yourself going. For example, for a few days before an extended high-intensity activity, you may want to try carbohydrate loading. This will significantly help you top up your glycogen stores.
However, on the day of a big run, you need to give your stomach enough time to empty. So, it is highly recommended that you consume your last meal approximately four hours before exercising.
2. Pack the right snacks and liquids for your run.
Whatever you do, make sure you don’t consume any sugary or starchy foods within the first twenty minutes of running as these are only going to make you much more dehydrated faster. Instead, you want to opt for snacks that will keep you hydrated while also quickly making their way into your bloodstream.
Your best option is a high-quality sports bar or Grit+Tonic energy gels as these are convenient and healthy.
For example, the GU Energy Gel comes in a 100-calorie packet with all the nutrition you need after a demanding run.
These energy gels contain carbohydrates (that maximize absorption and utilization while decreasing stomach discomfort), sodium (supports hydration by managing water balance), and amino acids (diminish mental lethargy and muscle damage). Not to mention these are in a portable packet, making them ideal for carrying on-the-go.
In the GU Energy Gel Mix Box – Fruity Flavours, you can try five flavors: Tri-Berry, Jet Blackberry, Strawberry Banana, Lemon Sublime, and Mandarin Orange. Alternatively, load up on your favorite flavor and always know you have the snack you need for daily training and racing. Plus, all GU Energy Gel flavors are vegan, gluten-free, and lactose-free.
3. Refuel your body post-run.
After your run, make sure you are reloading your body with less refined carbohydrates such as a whole-grain bagel or a piece of fruit. You want to ensure your daily caloric intake includes around 70% carbohydrates. To maintain a balanced diet and sustain maximum carbohydrate storage, these carbohydrates may include bread, cereals, pasta, and other grains.
Furthermore, after your workout, you must replace your lost fluids and electrolytes that are released when you sweat. To replenish these levels, opt for a sports drink such as the GU Hydration Drink Tabs, a delicious low-calorie drink option that will help you maintain water balance.
You can drink the GU Hydration Drink Tabs before, during, and after you run to ensure you remain hydrated and that you replenish your electrolyte levels. Furthermore, the GU Hydration Drink Tabs are formulated with Xylitol to reduce gastrointestinal distress.
Another fantastic option is Hydro Tab, a refreshing and naturally flavored electrolyte tablet that you can add to your water to boost hydration. These are specifically designed for individuals who regularly engage in high-level activities and want to maintain their performance levels.
Besides, they are also ideal for those running in hot or humid conditions or spending a lot of time outdoors. And, with only eight calories in each tablet, you never need to worry about incorporating these tabs into your daily diet.
4. Round out your diet with protein and fat.
In addition to carbohydrates, it is also vital that you consume enough protein and fat as both of these are critical to maintaining your body and sustaining your physical activity.
Generally, those who primarily participate in endurance sports require more carbohydrates and a smaller amount of protein. In contrast, those who do power sports need additional protein and a more moderate amount of carbs.
While protein doesn’t provide you with fuel for energy, you do need it to maintain your muscles. Therefore, it is crucial that you ascertain how much protein you need.
The average person requires approximately 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day (e.g. 88 grams of protein per day for a 150-pound person). That being said, if you are doing a lot of strength-training, you may find yourself requiring a lot more.
The quality of your protein source is also paramount. Instead of reaching for protein supplements, make sure you are filling your plate with high-quality protein, such as lean meats, fish, poultry, nuts, beans, eggs, and milk. In fact, milk is one of the best options for post-workout nutrients as it offers both protein and carbohydrates.
In terms of fat, as long as you are following your fundamental dietary guidelines, you should fulfill your needs through foods such as avocados, olives, nuts, and fatty fish.
5. Fruits and veggies are also necessary.
While carbs, protein and fats get most of the limelight when it comes to athlete’s nutrition, the truth is that you aren’t going to be able to reap the benefits if you aren’t also consuming enough fruits and veggies. While carbs, proteins, and fats are essential, your body requires the minerals and vitamins from fruits and veggies to deliver and process them.
To ensure you are consuming the necessary amount and variety of fruits and veggies, make sure you are eating two to three different veggies at every main meal, and are reaching for pieces of fruit for snacks.
For example, blueberries are proven to reduce soreness and expedite recovery efforts after a hard workout. By eating 1-2 cups of berries a day, you will quickly start to find yourself recovering much quicker.
What do you think are the most important nutritional tips for those who exercise a lot? What aspects of your nutrition are you finding challenging?
Let us know your thoughts and any additional questions in the comments below!