If you are a serious runner, you will want to attain optimal performance. Therefore, one thing you should not overlook is your fuel intake.
The Fuel That Runners’ Bodies Need
To fuel your body properly for optimal performance, it is crucial that you understand the types of foods, nutrients, and vitamins that your body needs.
Every runner needs carbohydrates to fuel their runs. That is because carbs are broken down into glucose, which provides you with energy.
Carbs are stored in your liver and muscles as glycogen. The glycogen in your muscles is the most readily available source of quick-released energy. So, if your muscles are not properly fueled with glycogen, expect poor performance and fatigue during your run.
Also, without being fueled by carbs, you could be at a greater risk of experiencing injuries when running.
It typically takes approximately 500 grams of carbohydrates to fill your body’s glycogen stores, which should last for between 60 and 90 minutes of running. But remember, the faster you run, the quicker your glycogen stores will deplete.
If you intend to run for longer than an hour, it is best to intake between 30 grams and 60 grams of carbs per hour over the first three hours and increase the intake to between 60 grams and 90 grams if you run more than three hours.
Bananas, bars, and drinks packed with carbs are ideal for consuming while you run.
You could make sure that you consume the right amount of carbs in general, and the other things your body needs, by using online fitness calculators and apps. Alternatively, you could get advice from a nutritionist or hire a private chef.
Another option is to use a meal delivery service that provides prepared and pre-measured meals designed by dieticians and cooked by expert chefs.
For instance, Factor offers variety, nutrition, and deliciousness in its dishes. You could choose Creamy Parmesan Chicken, Chimichurri Filet Mignon and shrimp, or Truffle Butter Filet Mignon, to name just a few options.
Make sure you consume healthy fats as part of your overall diet. While fats should be avoided as an immediate source of fuel, runners need healthy fats in their diets to aid in recovery, help immune health, and prevent fatigue.
The best sources of healthy fats for runners include nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, and foods that contain omega-3s, like mackerel and salmon.
It is important that every runner gets plenty of protein in their general diet, too. However, you should be aware that protein is best used as a response to running or working out rather than as a source of fuel.
Serious runners should consume foods rich in protein throughout each day. It is recommended that most regular runners intake 0.4 grams of protein-rich foods or protein supplements between four and six times a day. But the specific amount should be based on your specific training practices.
Carbs, fats, and proteins are macronutrients. Remember: your body needs micronutrients too, as they are crucial for various metabolic processes.
Make sure you regularly intake vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K, sodium, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and trace elements zinc, magnesium, and iodine. All are needed to ensure you run optimally.
It is often best to use supplements to get the right micronutrients into your body.
Fueling Your Body During Running
Find the right amount to eat or drink by knowing your body absorbs approximately 60 grams of glucose and 30 grams of fructose per hour.
In-run hydration is also incredibly important. By ensuring you drink enough fluids during a run, you will maintain hydration, regulate your body temperature, and ensure an adequate volume of plasma; all of which will directly affect your performance.
Most experts recommend consuming between 4 and 6 ounces of fluid for every 20 minutes you run. If you run faster than 8 minutes per mile, you should consume between 6 and 8 ounces every 20 minutes.