***This is a sponsored post, written by Charlotte Rivington ***
While snacking is a well-known cause of inadvertent weight gain for most people, for runners it’s an important way to maintain energy levels. Most health experts agree that the “little and often” approach to topping up your energy levels is by far the healthiest approach for those who run, either for the health benefits or professionally. The key to any healthy diet to help make the most of exercising is planning and for runners this is essential.
So, let’s start with snacking. Firstly fatty snacks should be out; carbohydrate rich food sources are the best for active runners as these keep energy levels up without the downsides of too much fat. For breakfast, cereal is an ideal source of high quality carbohydrate and it’s actually a good snack food – best eaten dry. Crisp breads, whole-wheat bagels and bananas are also excellent snack foods that will keep hunger at bay during the day and keep your energy levels topped up.
If you’re running most days all that snacking will provide plenty of energy but you won’t feel too full. It’s important not to forget main meals, whatever your sport of choice. Again, for runners who run for the health benefits, a diet that contains good amounts of energy food is a firm favourite. Pasta is a common ingredient in lunches or in evening meals. As a substitute baked potatoes, lentils or rice will also provide carbohydrates. Vegetables, as we all know, are essential for the body’s overall health, whether you’re running or not. Rich in vitamins these are at their best when prepared with minimal cooking, so should be steamed or micro-waved. Dairy shouldn’t be forgotten as it provides an excellent source of calcium which strengthens the bones and it also moderates the convulsions in muscles, including the heart.
When it comes to mealtimes there’s an old saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and this is very true for runners. If you’re up extra early to run indulge in a light, energy packed breakfast before you run and ensure you fill up on a healthy one before you set off for work. Try not to eat lunch later in the afternoon and focus on slow release energy foods including nuts and cereals. When it comes to an evening meal eat as early as possible; eating later in the evening will affect your sleep and therefore your performance on your next run.
Liquid Lunches, Elevenses and Teas
During any exercise our bodies need a lot of hydration and there are plenty of energy drinks on the market. However, the simplest way to remain hydrated is to drink water! Runners need to ensure that they drink plenty of it too. Don’t try to drink three gallons just before a run (you know what’ll happen). The best approach is to ensure a steady intake throughout the day. This applies whether you are running or not, but for runners the basic rule is to drink around five litres a day on running days, and also remember to top up about an hour before you plan to run. If you don’t already, then ensure that you learn to drink on the go and take around 250 ml for every half hour of planned running.
Some medical researchers believe that our bodies continue to burn energy at a higher rate in the twenty four hours after strenuous exercise and this means, for serious runners, that it’s important to top up with calories after running. Ensure that you are eating a balanced diet and that you’re taking in enough extra calories to offset the amount you lose. This will depend on the amount you run each week and it’s important to keep an eye on your weight. Running is the default form of exercise our bodies were designed for and it’s considered by many to be one of the most natural forms of exercise you can do. Food that is rich in carbohydrates for energy, dairy organic milk for muscles and bone strength, along with water and sticking to regular balanced meals will help to keep your body in perfect condition for running.