What to eat when you are running
by Michelle Nørgaard Kristensen www.michellekristensen.dk
Michelle is a professional nutritionist and personal trainer. She’s based in Copenhagen from where she helps people reach their goals in training and weight loss/gain. In 2013, Michelle ran the Palestine Marathon half after she headed a colorful warm-up session at Manger Square before the race started.
Why breakfast is pretty important
If you like to run in the morning, or if this is the only time of the day where you have the time to train, then it is a good idea to fill your stomach before running. It’s a lot harder to run on an empty stomach, cause that means you have no energy after a long night’s sleep. However, a bowl of oatmeal or muesli can make you feel heavy. If you go run 15-30 minutes after you wake up then drink a glass of juice or eat a banana before running. Then after your workout eat a “real” breakfast.
If you exercise later in the day, then your breakfast should consist of protein (eggs, meat, fish, beans, nuts, yoghurt, milk) so you get full, carbohydrate (oats, bread, rice, pasta, fruit), so you have energy to work or go to school, and fat (nuts, avocado, oils, fatty fish), so you protect your joints and legiments and keep your level of blood sugar stable.
A good breakfast could be…
A small bowl of oatmeal or muesli with milk, sprinkled with cinnamon, a handful of berries and walnuts, and “on the side ” a soft-boiled egg. Walnuts are rich in omega 3 fatty acids that reduce possible inflammation, which is always a risk when running, and are therefore very healthy nuts.
Getting energy before you run
It is very fashionable to eat low carb, but if you are a serious runner and about to train up to a marathon or half marathon then a steak, vegetables and a handful of nuts won’t provide enough energy for long runs. You need some carbohydrates, which are denser in energy than vegetables. You should time your meals well when training for a race and make sure that they contain good carbs. Most people work out late in the afternoon after work, and it is important to eat a meal in the afternoon – 2-3 hours before you go for a run. A good pre-run meal could be one of these – depending on whether you have access to a blender or not:
Pre workout meals:
- 1/2 banana, 1 cup of frozen blueberries, 1 cup of milk, 1 tablespoon of protein powder, 2 tbsp oatmeal/muesli, and 1 pinch of vanilla. Blend it all together and add more milk if you prefer your smoothie fluent. Otherwise, it is recommended to eat it like yogurt – with a spoon.
- 1 banana, 100-150 grams of yoghurt (depending on how hungry you are), 2 tbsp of muesli. Slice the banana and sprinkle it on top of the yoghurt with the muesli.
ATTENTION MEN: you need to add 50 percent of the quantity.
What to eat after running
When you have finished your training, it is important to get some energy in your body immediately, so make sure you eat something before you jump in the shower. The body is screaming for food so that it can repair itself after you’ve ‘broken it down’, which is way happens when you run. It is during the recovery time that you reap the benefits from training, as your uses rest and nutrition to re-build and become stronger than you were before your training session. You should eat something within 30 minutes after training. If you wait more than 30 minutes you extend your recovery time with 90 minutes for every minute that goes … yes it is quite a lot!
A glass of chocolate milk is actually a very good recovery meal after a workout since it consists of protein and carbohydrate. Otherwise, a glass of orange juice shaken with 1 tbsp of protein powder is also a good choice – it provides both vitamins, carbohydrates, and protein. If you make it home to eat dinner within the first 30 minutes after a workout, you should think about getting a decent amount of carbohydrate. This could be for example 2/3 cup of cooked brown rice and a lot of vegetables which contain good antioxidants that reduce inflammation. Also you should get protein through e.g. salmon, which is rich in omega 3 fatty acid.
Remember to drink a lot of water in order to maintain your fluid balance.
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