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364: Nutrition Strategies to Enhance Your Running Efficiency

Jun 20, 2024

Efficient Nutrition for Runners: Mastering Fueling for Optimal Performance

Let's explore how daily nutrition, along with pre-run, mid-run, and post-run fueling strategies, can contribute to becoming a more efficient runner.


The Importance of Fueling and Nutrition

Proper nutrition is essential for runners. Fueling your body correctly helps you conserve energy, run faster, recover better, and ultimately improve your performance. 


Navigating Conflicting Nutrition Information

With so much conflicting information out there, it can be overwhelming to determine what's relevant for runners. General dietary guidelines don't always apply to endurance athletes, so we need to focus on advice tailored specifically for us.


Daily Nutrition: Building a Solid Foundation

Key Elements of Daily Nutrition:

  • Whole Foods: We recommend including colorful vegetables and fruits, lean proteins, and whole grains in your diet. These foods provide essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
  • Minimize Processed Foods: While not all processed foods are bad, they shouldn't dominate your diet. Aim to consume foods in their most natural state whenever possible.
  • Protein Shakes: These can be convenient, especially when you're in a rush, but they should complement a diet rich in whole foods.


Fueling on Recovery Days

Even on rest days, adequate fueling is crucial to ensure proper recovery. Avoid drastic calorie restrictions, as they can hinder your recovery and overall progress. Trust us, we've learned this the hard way!


Intermittent Fasting and Runners

Intermittent fasting has gained popularity, but it's not beneficial for runners. Studies suggest that fasting can reduce energy levels, muscle mass, and increase the risk of injury. While fasting might offer some benefits for the general population, it's often detrimental for endurance athletes like us.


Fueling for Workouts

Pre-Workout Fueling: Eating before a run is essential for optimal performance. Running on an empty stomach can lead to decreased energy levels, muscle breakdown, and reduced performance.

  • Tip: Start with easily digestible foods and gradually increase your intake to train your gut.


Mid-Workout Fueling: For longer or intense workouts, aim to consume 60-90 grams of carbohydrates per hour. This can significantly enhance your performance and keep energy levels stable.

  • Tip: Liquid calories can be an efficient way to avoid gastrointestinal distress. Start with less and work your way up to this amount, especially if you have a sensitive stomach.


Post-Workout Fueling: After workouts, especially intense ones, refuel with both protein and carbohydrates.

  • For Women: It's particularly important due to a shorter refueling window. Aim for 25-30 grams of protein within 30 minutes post-workout.
  • Carbohydrates: Also essential for replenishing glycogen stores and aiding recovery.
  • Tip: Chocolate milk offers an ideal ratio of carbs to protein for post-run recovery.


Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

Fluid Intake: Hydrate adequately but remember that water alone isn't a substitute for proper post-workout nutrition.

Calorie Restriction: Long-term calorie restriction can lead to systemic inflammation, impaired recovery, and reduced metabolic rate. Always ensure you're fueling adequately.


The Importance of General Movement

Beyond planned workouts, maintaining general movement throughout the day can significantly impact your overall health. Simple activities like standing up frequently, taking short walks, or doing brief exercises can make a big difference.

To become a more efficient runner, focus on eating high-quality food in adequate amounts. Proper nutrition will help you train harder, recover faster, and achieve your performance goals. If you're uncertain or need personalized guidance, professional nutrition coaching can provide tailored advice.

For personalized support, consider joining the Real Life Runners Academy. We offer weekly live coaching calls and individualized advice to help you apply these nutritional strategies effectively.

Remember, proper fueling is foundational to becoming a more efficient, healthier, and happier runner. Now, get out there and run your life!

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