Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’

frozen yogurt scale

Frozen yogurt can be a healthy snack.

Whether it’s a 3 p.m. slump or late-night craving, your body knows when you need an energy boost. And since you run and burn more calories per minute than almost all other exercisers, you can eat whatever you want, right? Unfortunately not. But don’t worry, you can still find tasty foods that fill you up, giving you an energy boost for your next run.

Here are some quick tips for healthy snacking:

  • Think like a goat. Go for plant foods of all sorts as they tend to be high in vitamins and nutrients and free of “bad fats” like trans fats and saturated fat. Stock up on fresh fruits and veggies to snack on at home, and carry along seeds, nuts and whole grain snack bars when you’re on the go.
  • Pack up. Stash healthy snacks at work, in your car and in your purse, briefcase or bag. Keeping healthy foods on hand will hold you over between meals and allow you to ditch your vending machine habit or skip the drive-thru fries after work.
  • Eat like a kid. You can still enjoy some sweet treats or junk food favorites once in a while, just in moderation. Have a kid-sized portion by eating just one or two cookies, a small bowl of ice cream or a handful of chips. Allowing yourself to eat some junk food once in a while can satisfy your cravings so you’re less likely to gorge yourself in desperation and then bask in guilt.
  • Substitute. Try low-fat or low-calorie versions of your favorite snacks. If the craving for ice cream hits, go for some fat-free fro-yo topped with fruit. If it’s chips you’re after, try crunching on some whole grain chips, pita chips or homemade popcorn instead.
  • Eat in more than out. Most restaurants have a lot of fat and salt in their food, as it’s mass produced and often not made with low-fat or low-calorie ingredients. There are, of course, healthy options for eating out, but many items you think are healthy often are not. I went through a phase of looking up nutrition information for a lot of restaurants and I was shocked to learn of the high fat content in a Quizno’s veggie sub (31 grams of fat in a small one), for instance. Save yourself some money and excess calories by eating at home as much as possible.
eating at coffee shop

If you eat out, go for small portion sizes and lean meats or veggies.

Trails with a flat, unpaved surface are ideal for long runs because of the cushioning for your legs.

Long runs aren’t just for marathoners — novice runners can benefit from an extended, slow-paced run as well. A weekly long run can help you build your endurance and running efficiency, improving your fitness level while burning lots of calories. After an hour of slow running, your body will tap into fat burning mode instead of burning carbs. Long runs can therefore be an asset in your weight loss program as well as a tool to help you run faster in races of all distances by improving your stamina.

Here are a few quick tips on how to incorporate the long run into your training program:

  • Do a long run once a week, on a day after an easy workout or rest day.
  • Take a rest day or do an easy run the day after your long run so your body can recuperate.
  • Gradually add miles to your long run. Start with the longest distance you’ve run in the past two weeks and add one mile a week to your long run. Every third week, keep your long run distance the same as the week before, then continue increasing the mileage the following week.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink water every few miles, or try sports drinks for distances over 10 miles. Runners’ tolerance for sports drinks varies, so test them out on your long runs before deciding to drink them during a race. Water is always a healthy fluid option that is less likely to cause stomach upset.
  • Eat something within 30 minutes of finishing your long run. Eating will help replenish depleted glycogen so your muscles can recover more quickly. Try a piece of fruit for a quick sugar surge.
  • During runs of 10 miles or longer, try sports gels, bars or drinks to give your body an energy boost. Experiment with different flavors and consistencies to determine what works best for your stomach and energy level.
  • Eat a large meal within a few hours after your long run. You will need to resupply lost nutrients in your body as well as satisfy what is probably a huge appetite after running. Just remember to keep your choices healthy, especially if your goal is weight loss. A long run is not a free pass to pig out on fried foods, junk food and candy, or you’ll cancel out some of the benefits of your run.

Farmers markets can help you stock up on a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Running is a demanding cardio exercise that burns carbs and fat in your body for energy. If you are lacking in nutrients, your running performance will suffer. On the flip side, just because you’re following a running program doesn’t mean you can devour all fast food, desserts and snacks in sight without gaining weight.

Here are some basic tips to help you eat a nutritious diet to stay energized and healthy for your runs:

  1. Carbs are your friend. Carbs are the first form of fuel your body burns while running, and you will feel weak, light-headed and even faint without carbs for energy on your runs. Although a popular weight loss method is cutting some or all carbs from your diet, if you do, your body will go into starvation mode and start to burn your muscles for fuel. Drastically cutting your carbs also increases your chance of weight gain once you return to eating a regular diet.
  2. Mix up your diet. You want to eat a variety of foods from all of the food groups, including grains, vegetables, fruit, protein and dairy sources. Check out the USDA’s Daily Food Plan to help you figure out how much and what type of food to eat each day based on your age, sex, weight, height and activity level.
  3. Eat whole grains. The USDA recommends consuming at least half of your daily grains in the form of whole grains. Whole grains offer your body nutrient-rich carbohydrates that have more vitamins and minerals than refined grains, which have been processed. Some healthy whole grains for runners include oatmeal, whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole wheat tortillas, popcorn, whole wheat pasta, wild rice, cracked wheat and whole grain cornmeal.
  4. Go for “good” fats. There are healthy fats and unhealthy fats, and the good fats — monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — can help lower your cholesterol, improve your heart health and lessen inflammation in your body. Good fats are found in mostly plant sources of food, such as avocados, vegetable oils, seeds and nuts, as well as in fish. “Bad” fats — saturated and trans fats — are found mainly in animal sources such as red meat and full-fat dairy products, as well as in fried foods and processed desserts. Bad fats can clog your arteries, cause weight gain and trigger heart problems. Cut all trans fats from your diet and limit your saturated fat intake.
  5. Cut empty calories from your diet. Reduce and eliminate low-nutrient foods from your diet, such as sweetened drinks, alcohol, candy, fried foods and baked desserts. Eating high-calorie foods with low nutritional value will not fill you up but will add excess calories to your diet, which can cause you to gain weight as well as feel sluggish and tired on your runs.