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Diet And Nutrition For Runners

Books to Improve your Running

Diet and nutrition is important for everyone but it is especially important for runners. Eating a proper diet which is well balanced and follows guidelines provided for good health can help a runner to stay in good shape but some runner may also have other specific dietary needs which help the runner to train properly and excel in his sport. This article will discuss the importance of diet and nutrition as it applies to runners in an effort to help the reader understand how different types of runners are able to fuel their bodies for training and racing.

Consider a normal healthy diet. It may consist of 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein, 30% fat and include healthy components such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean sources of protein and heart healthy fats. The daily consumption of a healthy amount of calories based on the individualís current weight and activity level is also important. The amount of calories taken in can be modified depending on whether the individual is looking to maintain his weight, lose weight or gain weight. This type of diet is certainly a good idea for anyone who wants to maintain or achieve an ideal weight but it is especially important for runners because not maintaining an ideal weight and not eating nutritious foods can have a significantly negative impact on the runnerís performance.

In examining a proper diet, we will first consider the macronutrients which includes carbohydrates, protein and fat. Each of these macronutrients is important for optimal health. The percentages listed above are generally acceptable for most people, but runners may wish to consider tweaking these percentages based on their specific training and racing goals. For example a distance runner who is preparing for a marathon may wish to increase the percentage of carbohydrates in his diet during periods of intense training where he is running large amounts of mileage each week. This can help his body to remain properly fueled to do this magnitude of training. Conversely a sprinter who is working on improving muscle mass through weight training, plyometric exercises and interval training may want to incorporate additional amounts of protein into his diet. This may be helpful because greater amounts of protein during these times can help to stimulate muscle growth. Regardless of the dietary changes a runner chooses to make during his training, he should be aware of how these changes are impacting his body as well as his performance and should strive to make choices which are both healthy and ideal for optimal performance.

Next we should consider calorie intake for runners. There are basic guidelines for the amount of calories an individual should be consuming on a regular basis based on the individualís current weight and activity level, however, these guidelines might not be accurate for runners during periods of intense training. There are many calorie calculators available online which can provide a basic understanding of the amount of calories which an individual needs. These numbers may be a good starting point for runners but the runner should use a training log to record the number of calories he is consuming, the type of workout he is doing and how he feels during and after the workout. This type of information can be very useful for helping the runner to determine whether or not he is eating enough. For example a runner who is regularly consuming 2500 calories per day and running 7-8 miles per day but routinely feels tired and feels as though he is not recovering properly might want to consider taking in more calories to see whether or not this results in an improvement. The scale can also be used as an indicator of whether or not the runner is taking in enough calories. If the runner is already at an ideal weight, he should be striving to consume enough calories to maintain his weight. If there is a gradual weight loss this can be making the runner weaker so it is important to find ways to incorporate additional calories into the diet.

Finally, runners should consider the quality of the calories they are consuming. We have already discussed how it is important for a runner to consume an adequate number of calories to fuel his training but it is also important for the runner to obtain these calories from quality sources such as whole grain carbohydrates, lean protein sources and heart healthy fats. A runner could certainly get his calorie requirements by eating foods rich in sugar and fat but is likely to feel more sluggish and to not perform as well as he would if he were eating more nutritiously. For example a piece of cake may have an equal amount of calories as a turkey sandwich on multi grain bread but the runner who consumes the cake before training is not likely to perform as well as the runner who consumes the sandwich before training. This is because the sugar content of the cake triggers an insulin response which can make the runner sluggish and less likely to feel energizes.


The video clip above is from my DVD about running stetches and other running related information. Click on the DVD case below to find out more.

Running Stretches and Running Tips

Click Here to view the DVD.

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