If you’re a runner or have friends/family members who are runners, there is a pretty good chance that you’ve heard people ask, “What kind of diet do I need to follow to be like a runner?” Just as the specifics of everyone’s diets are different due to a handful of variables, each runner’s diet is as unique as his/her pre-race rituals. Even so, many members of the running community tend to have some similar characteristics – runners are planners, runners are consistent, runners keep track of their daily activities – that can carry over to creating healthy eating habits to benefit runners and non-runners alike.
Plan What You Eat
It’s a lot easier to maintain a healthy diet that includes all of the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrition your body needs when you plan out and prepare your meals for the day/week ahead of time. On a weekly basis, create a master menu and shopping list that include whole grain carbohydrates, lean proteins, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables. Go to the grocery store at the beginning of the week and purchase all of the ingredients you will need to complete your weekly menus. Try to stay away from processed foods as much as possible. When you return from the grocery store, you now will have all of the ingredients you need in-house to prepare healthy meals all week long and eliminate excuses for not being able to cook/eat healthy.
Eat Throughout the Day
Consistency is key to fueling your body like a runner and ensuring optimal performance before, during and after your workout. You should strive to eat three meals and two small snacks per day in order to support a consistent metabolism in your body that can keep you from crashing and becoming over-hungry. Once you let yourself get too hungry, you run the risk of quickly consuming more calories than you realize to combat your strong hunger pains.
Track Your Progress
No one enjoys counting their calories – not even runners. Even so, you need to be honest and realistic about how many calories you consume on a daily basis to determine whether you are fueling your body appropriately. Counting calories can be as easy as tracking your meals in a paper-based journal or inputting your calorie numbers online in an accountability journal. Just make sure to be consistent and take into account every calorie you consume – even the ones you may be drinking in your morning coffee or evening cocktail.
Take It Slow and Steady
In addition to tracking the number of calories you consume, it also is important to be conscious about how fast you are consuming your meals. Recent research has found correlations between how fast you eat and your Body Mass Index (BMI) rating. Faster eaters reported higher BMI levels during the study than those who took their time to completely chew their food. Slower eaters reported lower BMI levels, which may be associated with being more aware of each bite of food they put into their mouths, and focusing on the actual act of eating rather than becoming absorbed by mealtime distractions such as the television, a good book or the computer.
Whether you are a runner or not, everyone can benefit from following the four easy healthy eating habits described above. By planning what you eat ahead of time, eating smaller, more frequent meals/snacks throughout the day, keeping track of your daily calorie count, and eating your food slower you are well on your way to creating healthy eating habits to fuel your body for optimal performance. If you would like more information on how combining smart nutrition with regular workouts can help you meet your fitness goals, call our Fitness Together studio today to learn about our Nutrition Together program.