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Guest Post: Nutrition for Runners

I would like to introduce you to a very special guest that I had the honor of meeting at a Pittsburgh bloggers event about a month ago.  I asked Jess to guest post on the topic of nutrition because I get a lot of questions on the topic and do not feel as though I have it figured out for myself.  She is a wealth of knowledge and I hope that you enjoy this information!

Hi! I’m Jess DeGore a Registered Dietitian, marathoner, triathlete, and fitness enthusiast. As an athlete not only do I understand the importance of nutrition during training and competing but as a dietitian I’ve studied the proper fueling and recovery nutrition for optimal performance. Today I’m sharing general science based information for the average hobby runner- sports nutrition is unique to everyone and definitely not a one size fits all approach. Nutrition is not a belief system… it is science so as a credentialed professional I am sharing the facts.  If you have been struggling with bonking, weight maintenance, or any performance nutrition issues- feel free to reach out to me via email at dietitianjessnutrition@gmail.com if you’re interested in working together. I work with athletes all shapes and sizes as well as at all levels.

What should I be eating??

Most endurance athletes’ diets should follow the general guidelines of: 50% carbs, 25% protein, and 25% fat. Obviously this can vary by athletes depending on their body composition and goals. Carbs should be a mix of whole grains, veggies, and

What should my nutrition look like before, during, and after races or training???

Being well hydrated is always important of training and racing. Proper hydration can increase your strength, speed and stamina by 6-8%, so make sure you practice drinking lots of fluid during training runs.  Urine should be light yellow to clear. Pro tip: Bring a water bottle to work to make sure your intake is consistent throughout the day.

Before: Prior to a race many athletes focus on a carb heavy diet aka carbo-loading. For most endurance athletes the best way to carbo-load is to make 50% of every meal carbohydrates such as grains, veggies, and fruit. When racing a long distance event such as a marathon you should start adding more carbs to each meal three days before the race.  Practicing carb loading before long training runs will also help minimize any GI issues experiences on race day.

During: Gels, Chews, energy drinks (Nuun, Gatorade, etc.) are the typical convenient approach but honey, sugar cubes, dates, and raisins work just as well. I’ve even had athletes that used goldfish crackers. The rule of thumb is 30-60 grams of carbohydrate every hour after the first hour. Don’t forget to always train with the fuel you are using on race day!

After: Refueling is just as important as fueling. Your body needs fuel to help speed recovery after runs for muscle protein re-synthesis aka building muscle. Consuming a mix of protein and carbohydrate after running may help the body to recover more quickly than just carbs alone. The rule of thumb here is typically at 3:1 or 4:1 carbs to protein ratio. Meaning there should be 3 times the amount of carbs as protein i.e. 40g of carb and 12g of protein.

What does eating healthy really mean?

I follow intuitive eating approach which basically means listening to body and giving it what it needs. Sometimes this means a salad and sometimes it means a burger. Feel free to jump over to my blog to get a better feel for that but in general it means is:

-eating from every food group without creating restrictions that aren’t medically necessary

-eating balanced meals that include all the macronutrients (protein, carb, fat)

 -fueling regularly and planning accordingly for exercise

-enjoying your meals and allowing indulgences without guilt

 -listening to your body and not obsessing over food choices

**Lastly don’t forget stress and sleep affect your nutrition.

Should I meal prep?

Meal prep is definitely a hot topic right now in the nutrition world. While it is not absolutely necessary sometimes it can help to ensure healthier choices. I personally don’t meal prep regularly and I know many other dietitians that don’t either but it can be helpful to have a rough meal plan or weekly menu.  The success of meal prepping mostly depends on how much you like leftovers and how much time you have for cooking but it’s not something you need to do for eating healthfully. 



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