Diet & Nutrition

Healthy Low-Calorie Diets for Runners

Maintaining a low-calorie, healthy diet will help to improve your running and lower your time. Runners who carry less body fat tend to have better race times, so adhering to a low-calorie, nutrient-rich diet is important. Eat plenty of fruit, vegetables, low fat dairy and lean meats to maintain a sleek physique, which will ultimately improve your time.

What and When to Eat

Knowing what you should eat is just as important as knowing when to eat and how much to consume at one meal. Keep fresh fruit, vegetables, legumes, lean meats, healthy oils and nuts handy at home. Consume between 300 to 400 calories per meal and aim to eat every two hours. Eat at least five or six servings of fruit and vegetables and up to 64 to 86 grams of protein per day.

If you run in the morning, be sure you are well hydrated by drinking approximately eight oz. of water. Have an energy-based meal such as a small whole wheat bagel topped with a teaspoon of natural peanut butter and a banana. Steel-cut oatmeal and strawberries is another good pre-run meal.Be sure you wait at least one to two hours before going on your run to digest your food and water and avoid indigestion and cramping.  After your run be sure to hydrate and have a meal that consists of plenty of lean protein such as chicken, turkey, shrimp or beans.

What to Eat before a Race

The days of eating a pound of pasta the night before a race is old-school thinking and doesn’t help the runner gain speed or endurance before a race. However, a few days before the race, increase your caloric intake by 200 each day to give yourself the extra carbohydrate and fat stores to endure a race. Continue eating small, healthy meals but add in a few more pieces of lean turkey or an extra apple. Be sure those extra calories are nutrient-dense, which will help you achieve your race goal.

Maintaining a Competitive Edge

Caloric cycling is the best way to keep your weight under control and continue to improve your time. Like running, your body gets used to a certain routine and begins to plateau. In order to keep your weight at a competition level you should change the number of calories you consume each week.

For example, if you are currently eating around 1,800 calories per day, eat 1,500 for one week and then the next week go back to 1,800. The difference of 300 calories may not seem like much, but it creates metabolic confusion which allows your body to reset its expectations and burn fat more effectively.

Maintaining a low-calorie, healthy diet will help to improve your running and lower your time. Runners who carry less body fat tend to have better race times, so adhering to a low-calorie, nutrient-rich diet is important. Eat plenty of fruit, vegetables, low fat dairy and lean meats to maintain a sleek physique, which will ultimately improve your time.

What and When to Eat

Knowing what you should eat is just as important as knowing when to eat and how much to consume at one meal. Keep fresh fruit, vegetables, legumes, lean meats, healthy oils and nuts handy at home. Consume between 300 to 400 calories per meal and aim to eat every two hours. Eat at least five or six servings of fruit and vegetables and up to 64 to 86 grams of protein per day.

If you run in the morning, be sure you are well hydrated by drinking approximately eight oz. of water. Have an energy-based meal such as a small whole wheat bagel topped with a teaspoon of natural peanut butter and a banana. Steel-cut oatmeal and strawberries is another good pre-run meal.

Be sure you wait at least one to two hours before going on your run to digest your food and water and avoid indigestion and cramping.
After your run be sure to hydrate and have a meal that consists of plenty of lean protein such as chicken, turkey, shrimp or beans.

What to Eat before a Race

The days of eating a pound of pasta the night before a race is old-school thinking and doesn’t help the runner gain speed or endurance before a race. However, a few days before the race, increase your caloric intake by 200 each day to give yourself the extra carbohydrate and fat stores to endure a race. Continue eating small, healthy meals but add in a few more pieces of lean turkey or an extra apple. Be sure those extra calories are nutrient-dense, which will help you achieve your race goal.

Maintaining a Competitive Edge

Caloric cycling is the best way to keep your weight under control and continue to improve your time. Like running, your body gets used to a certain routine and begins to plateau. In order to keep your weight at a competition level you should change the number of calories you consume each week.   For example, if you are currently eating around 1,800 calories per day, eat 1,500 for one week and then the next week go back to 1,800. The difference of 300 calories may not seem like much, but it creates metabolic confusion which allows your body to reset its expectations and burn fat more effectively.

By Gina Ragusa

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