4 Nutrition Tips to Optimize Your Training
By: Nicole Holmes, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Whether running the Riverbank Run for the first time or whether you’re a seasoned athlete, proper training and nutrition can be the key to your success. Without the right nutrient intake, athletic performance can be negatively affected. A foundation of healthy eating can ensure proper fueling to meet the energy demands of training. Here are four nutrition tips to help you get the most out of your training:
1. Include protein in all your meals
Protein is an essential building block for muscles and help your muscles recover from training. Around 15-20% of your calories should come from protein, which is best utilized when intake is spread throughout the day. Consuming protein alongside carbohydrates will also help to prevent blood sugar spikes and encourage a steady release of energy during the day. Good sources of protein come from meat, fish, eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese, nuts, tofu, seeds, and legumes.
2. Eat plenty of carbohydrates
Carbohydrates provide the major source of energy when training, so it’s important to include enough in your diet, around 45-65% of your calories. Whole grain breads and pastas, as well as long grain brown rice, quinoa, and starchy vegetables such as potatoes are good sources of energy.
A few hours before your long run, consume easily digested complex carbohydrates and a protein. A few examples include oatmeal with protein powder, whole grain toast with nut butter, protein pancakes, or a whole grain bagel with peanut butter. Everyone is different regarding what is best prior to a long run, so experiment with variations and timing during your training period, so you know what will work best for you on race day.
3. Increase your fruit and vegetable intake
Fruits and vegetables are an important component of every training plan because they are packed full of vitamins and minerals. Fruits contain carbohydrates but they also contain vitamins and minerals that are essential for proper recovery of trained muscles, prevention of illness, and overall health and wellbeing. Vegetables provide only a small amount of carbohydrates, but like fruit they are a great source of fiber as well as vitamins and minerals. Fiber helps you to feel full longer, provides more sustained energy during exercise, and improves the function of your gut.
4. Fuel on the run
We also need to focus on consuming carbohydrates and proper hydration during exercise. Carbohydrates can be consumed in the form of foods or beverages and has been proven to delay fatigue and improve performance. Gels, chomps, and sports drinks are common favorites among runners. You should try to consume 30–60g of carbohydrates per hour of running depending on pace, preference, and what sits best on your stomach. Also, try to align this with adequate water intake.
On any normal day you should try to consume half your body weight in ounces of water. However, water should be increased on training days, especially if the weather is warm and you will be sweating more. When you are exercising you should initiate a sipping protocol, where you sip 5-10 oz of fluids every 15 – 20 minutes to help maintain adequate hydration.
It can take multiple long runs to figure out what nutrition combination works best for you. Use your training runs to not only increase your endurance, but also to learn what foods and fluids work best for you. It’s up to you to use this information to experiment throughout the training process and to learn how to best to use nutrition on race day. However, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Click here: https://www.grymca.org/dietitian/ to learn how a YMCA registered dietitian can help with your training and nutrition needs.