REAL FOOD RUNNING! The benefits of fuelling your training naturally …
Those familiar with my Go Faster Food recipes, books and my Go Bites® energy balls will know that if there’s one thing I’m passionate about, it’s the power of good, simple, ‘real’ food to boost your training diet. But it has to be delicious! Eating right can help your running on so many levels. It can put a spring in your step so you can enjoy your training more, make you feel more energised and focussed, aid effective recovery and, crucially, support your immune system more efficiently.
But that doesn’t mean you have to eat broccoli all the time!
Since December 2017 we’ve been working with a group of running bloggers. Each, in their own way, had been struggling with their running, from suffering migraines and serious gut issues to feeling lethargic and ‘heavy legged’. They have been cooking recipes from my Go Faster Food books from scratch and fuelling naturally on their long runs with Go Bites®. I’m delighted to say that they are all progressing amazingly with their running! We’ve seen PB’s, the end of migraines and generally feeling more energised - see the links at the end of this blog to read how they’ve been getting on ...
A good training diet isn’t rocket-science. It’s regular, varied meals that are well-balanced and packed with unrefined slow-releasing carbs, good quality protein, healthy fats and plenty of fibre, vitamins and minerals. It’s cutting down on ‘junk’ (but not to the detriment of the odd treat!) and focussing on wholegrains such as wholemeal bread, wholegrain rice and oats, lentils, peas, sweet potatoes, beans, quinoa, fruits and vegetables, good quality meat and oily fish, dairy (or dairy alternatives such as almond milk), nuts and seeds.
Understand your own energy needs
Tune into your own body and your activity levels to map out how much energy is right for you and when you might need it most. As a runner, you will need to eat more than your sedentary colleague, so it makes sense to make sure that the extra calories are good ones which count towards giving you the right type of energy to fuel your training effectively.
If your training is particularly intense, you need to make sure you aren’t stressing it even more by eating the wrong amount and type of foods. Getting your energy in the form of wholesome foods will help you face your training with a smile on your face! This is because you will be consuming more fibre and crucial micronutrients that have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, and are immune boosting too.
Avoid the energy crash!
Anticipating when you will need more energy is key. So if you are off for an evening run after work, it’s a good idea to fuel up with a snack about an hour before you set off. A large glass of water and a pack of energy balls (Go Bites® of course!), a banana or a small sandwich with wholegrain bread will fuel your run better than a jam doughnut, pack of sweets, crisps or a chocolate muffin, for instance. This is because they are higher in fibre and will release energy gradually into your bloodstream. Avoiding sugar highs and lows will, in turn, make you feel better and stop you reaching out for the nearest sugary quick-fix.
Benefits of using 100% natural energy
Likewise, during your runs, natural energy sources will give you a steadier form of energy. Your body can store enough glycogen (carbohydrate) to keep you going for approximately 90 minutes, after which it has to resort to burning fat reserves for energy and this is likely to slow you down. For runs over 90 minutes, therefore, topping up your glycogen stores during your run will keep you going strong and prevent you from ‘hitting the wall’. You’ll need to consume around 15-30g carbohydrate every half an hour. Homemade carbohydrate sports drink (250ml fruit juice, 250ml water and 1/5 tsp salt), energy balls, dried fruit, or bananas will drip-feed energy. If you are running an ultra, you could try mini sandwiches, orange segments or even new potatoes!
I believe that over 1000’s of years our bodies have developed to efficiently absorb the nutrients from real food rather than synthetics. Having said that, there is a place for glucose gels, jelly babies or blocks, if you really start to flag. The fast release energy will give you a short-lived boost to get you out of a tricky situation!
Take your learnings from running into the everyday! The Glycaemic Index (GI) is a handy way to choose your carbs wisely. Take pure glucose, for instance, with a G.I. of 100. This will be rapidly digested, raising your blood sugar levels to give you a very short-lived energy boost. High GI, fast-releasing carbohydrates such as glucose sweets, white bread, white short grain rice, chips, sugary cereals, biscuits, and processed cakes are the foods which basically give carbs a bad name. Eating too many or these as part of your everyday diet plays havoc with your blood sugar levels, giving you a sugar rush, followed by a slump in energy and mood, messing with your insulin levels and increasing your chances of getting hungry between meals. Ricocheting energy levels not only make you feel dreadful, but you grab more food to keep you going and the spiral continues.
Carbohydrates with a medium-to-low GI value (55 or less), such as porridge oats or quinoa, are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolised and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and, therefore insulin levels. Focussing on these high quality carbohydrates from unrefined and wholegrain sources, and plenty from fruit and vegetables will provide the body with much more fibre than refined carbohydrates, as well as many more micronutrients (they are more nutrient dense), so they are adding value to your diet.
Do get in touch on facebook, twitter or Instagram(@gofasterfood) – I’d love to hear your thoughts on what works for you in terms of food for training. If you’d like to receive my #GoFasterFriday free weekly training recipe, please sign up www.gofasterfood.com.
Links to Naturally Fuelled Runners
Ronnie Haydon – I swapped gels for wholefoods - https://womensrunninguk.co.uk/nutrition/i-swapped-gels-wholefoods/
Joanna Barlow, Teacups & Trainers https://teacupsandtrainers.com/2018/01/18/fit-and-healthy/ https://teacupsandtrainers.com/2018/02/20/mk-winter-half-marathon/
Latte Lindsay – training for a marathon with IBS http://lattelindsay.com/fitness-2/training-marathon-ibs/
Got a question? Feel free to Tweet Kate Percy @GoFasterFood
Feeling like you want to try the Go Bites? The team at Go Faster Food are offering you the chance to save 15% off all orders using GOBITESRUNR at www.gofasterfood.com