EAT FOR ENERGY
THE OLD WAY Runners didn’t worry about what they ate because they didn’t think it mattered. Food gave energy and drink took care of thirst: end of story.
THE NEW WAY Most runners know better. And some, such as those who identify themselves as Paleo, vegan or gluten-free, feel they know much better.
THE BEST WAY While the merits of various diets could – and does – provide fodder for long and contentious debates, most runners should follow two basic principles, says sports nutritionist Barbara Lewin: ensure you get a balanced mix of carbs, lean protein and healthy fats (found in foods such as olive oil and avocados); and when choosing carbs, emphasise fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains to maintain the energy stores that will fuel your workouts.
Being at your best weight affects your performance, which runners have always known. But ‘it’s a delicate balance between getting enough calories to run good workouts and trying to lose body fat’, says Lewin. She says the best way to do that is to pay attention to both portion size and timing. ‘Don’t take in most of your calories at dinner, because you expend most of your energy earlier in the day,’ she says.
Eat healthily not just to get faster, but because it makes you feel better. And if you’re ‘good’ most of the time, don’t feel guilty about the occasional splurge.