Boost your training with Andrea's nutrition tipsWednesday 14 June 2017
In the first of this three part series, nutritionist and Run Norwich participant Andrea Langan provides a few tips on fine tuning your diet to aid with your training.
Name: Andrea Carroll Langan, MSc BSc mBANT CNHC
Occupation: MSc level trained functional nutritionist specialising in optimising health and performance
Run Norwich experience: 2015 (and entered for 2017!)
Eat to Run
So you’ve signed up to Run Norwich and the early benefits of your training plan might be starting to kick in right about now. Why not capitalise on some of this success and embrace simple dietary strategies to support your body (and mind!) in training? To enjoy the fullest benefit of running both in terms of fun and ease it pays to contemplate not only the outer mechanics but also our internal nutritional requirements.
With just over two months to go there’s plenty of scope for enhancements. Small positive changes can make a big difference to health and ultimately performance, so if something below resonates and it’s doable for you, why not factor it in like you would do the mileage…
Eat real food
It’s a simple one but a good one. Running is a pretty impressive feat as all 26 bones, 33 joints, 112 ligaments and blood vessels work together. If you’re working hard to build up fitness, it’s likely your nutritional requirements have increased. Avoid wasting precious energy and nutrients detoxing from too many processed foods. Instead build on the feel good factor as you tally up the athletic achievements and enjoy healthy staples which pack a nutrient punch, rather than empty calories.
Aim to base the majority of diet on whole foods that don’t require a lengthy food label such as fish, chicken, pulses, wholegrains, natural yoghurt and vegetables. If time is short a slow cooker is a great investment as are freezer pots for bulk cooking. Plan this in as part of your training plan and perhaps jot down which foods seem to benefit energy levels to personalise the approach.
Think complex carbohydrates – they’re your fatigue fighting friends!
Complex carbohydrates help fuel training runs by providing a slow release of glucose into the blood stream which promotes a steady stream of energy. In contrast refined carbs like white bread can send blood sugar levels soaring with a subsequent dip that might be badly timed and leave you feeling depleted before the end of a long run. Wholegrains e.g. brown rice or oats, sweet potatoes, fruits and vegetables can be a useful part of a pre-training meal eaten at least 2 hours in advance. You could then grab a banana as a top up fuel perhaps 45-minutes before you head out. The key here is to tweak your individual preferences in training to avoid any last minute digestive upsets.
Eat a rainbow of colours a day (natural ones of course!)
Aiming for a colourful plate increases your chances of including a wide range of those vitamins and minerals vital for nourishing your body. All runners can benefit from including lots of plant phytonutrients which come from the strong coloured natural pigments in foods. As an example, the phytonutrient Anthocyanin found in blueberries and dark red cherries can help to reduce inflammation in the body which has the potential to support most of us in training at some stage.
Plant-based power is highly regarded and to take this a step further as an athlete (yes that’s you!) with a high demand for many nutrients such as calcium and iron, changing the colour of your protein throughout the week can also be of benefit. You could pack the colourful berries with white silken tofu and brown walnuts (healthy fats) into a breakfast smoothie then have pink salmon (more healthy fats!) in a green salad for lunch. If you love a challenge (I’m thinking you might as you’re running 10K) set a colour one with friends or simply put a few reminders in your training plan.
It’s easy to overlook hydration when you’re not running until later but many people start a working day dehydrated. Being even slightly dehydrated can leave you feeling sluggish as well as impact overall performance. Adequate hydration is particularly important in supporting cognitive function e.g. concentration and decision making as well as effectively regulating body temperature (a big one with summer training) and ensuring that energy nutrients are transported around the body.
Starting the day with a large glass of water then including a fruit and/or vegetable, which contain high levels of natural fluid with breakfast, is effective and simple. Fluids should be consumed periodically throughout the day, mainly from water, herbal teas, or very diluted fruit juice. Daily fluid requirements are very individual and vary depending on age, gender, and level of physical activity. Monitor your urine – have a peek down and check! If it looks like straw from the beautiful fields you may run past that’s all good. If it looks like apple juice it’s time to drink up.
Keep an eye out for the next blog in a few weeks which will be about maximising the effects of your workout with a focus on ‘nutrition for recovery’. The last post of July will cover race day fuelling, so all in all you should be hitting the starting line feeling strong and ready!
For more information please visit www.healthembrace.co.uk or email email@example.com
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Run Norwich and its organisers.