To eat or not to eat? That is the baffling question of runners who want to lose weight without sacrificing energy or performance. Nonetheless, the answer is not all black and white. Most people think in terms of either and or when it come to eating for weight loss, but a key foundation for any weight loss eating plan is moderation, this is especially true for runners.
Despite what certain fad diets would have believe, runners are not like average people. Runners need more calories, proteins, and carbohydrates. Runners need more nutrients in general. In fact, if you’re a runner and want to lose weight, following a low-carb diet and other spin offs will leave you hungry, tired and discouraged.
As a result, runners with weight loss goals need to follow a diet that’s specifically tailored to meet their specific needs; a nutrition plan that can help them lose weight while at the same time, keep running performance soaring. That’s the runner’s diet.
The runner’s Diet
The runner’s diet is specifically designed to help you settle on the exact amount of calories you need to maintain or lose weight without sacrificing energy and training performance. The runner’s diet is not about depriving yourself of valuable nutrients or starving to death. This diet is about eating the right calories, proteins and carbohydrates, at the right times and in accordance with your current running goals and plans.
This diet is comprised of 3 main components: Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Most guidelines recommend a 60-25-15 eating plan, where the bulk of your calories comes from carbohydrates, 25 percent from proteins, and 15 percent from fats. However, each person is unique and has different needs; hence every runner may respond better to somewhat different proportions. The 60-25-15 is not written in stone. You can use your creativity and figure out what works the best for you. Just make sure that carbohydrates make up about 50-70% of the total daily calorie intake.
Runners need more carbohydrates since they’re the main source of energy while running. Carbs are the main source of glucose, a sugar that our bodies use as fuel. Therefore, if you don’t have enough glucose stored on your body, you’ll literally run out of fuel while running; hence your running performance and enjoyment will suffer greatly. No energy in the tanks leads to mediocre running routine and results. On the other hand, keeping your carbs intake high will boost your energy levels and improve your workouts. Hence, you’ll burn off more calories and lose weight.
Nevertheless, all carbs are not created equal. There are the good carbs and the bad ones. The type of carbs you consume will make al the difference. And to lose weight effectively, you need to opt for the good type. Here’s a quick guide to choosing the right ones:
The Good Carbs
Also know as complex carbohydrates (starches), the good carbs take a longer time to be digested and are high in fiber and nutrients. These nutrients are easily converted by the digestive system to fuel that can be used by the muscles for the training. Thus good carbs are an excellent source of energy for longer endurance running workouts. Here are some of the main healthiest sources of complex carbs: Starchy Vegetables; Whole grains; Yams; Nuts; Seeds; Lentils; Beans (pinto, black, kidney); Legumes; Fruits; Some dairy products.
The Bad Carbs
On the hand, bad carbs—also know as simple carbohydrates—come from sources like table sugar, cakes, soda, energy drinks, candy, etc. Simple carbohydrates are easily broken down and quickly absorbed by the body. Therefore, they will increase your blood sugar levels swiftly and provide you with a quick hit of energy followed by a crash, this leads to hunger pangs thus overeating. Therefore, you should keep your simple carbs consumption at bay since they do not provide with sustainable energy and are more easily stored as body fat.
However, overeating leads to weight gain, regardless of the type of carbs you eat. Therefore, keeping track of your calorie intake and moderation are the keys to weight loss without sacrificing energy or running performance. However there is no magic pill. Take your time and set realistic goals.
Article by David Dack