Fuelling You

Food for Fuel

Author: Rachel
March 10th 11:10am

With the running season fast approaching you might be starting or upping your running routine. If so, take a look at our tips on how to fuel your body. This guide aims to examine the importance of fueling your body to enhance your natural ability. It is worth stating that making changes to your diet plan takes time but the benefits will be seen and felt over time.

Diet: So where do we start, perhaps with the word diet. This word can cause dread amongst many, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Dieting is to calculate an eating plan specific to your needs and requirements. If you’re exercising more you can effectively eat more. A good tip is to establish your current eating habits. Create a dairy and note down when, why and how you eat. Getting to grips with your current eating habits will help you determine where changes need to be made. Having a healthy diet will benefit your exercise routine as well as your life in general.

Little and often: It’s a tip we all hear but one we find hard to put into practice and that tip is to eat little and often. Some claim that it’s too hard to fit into their working routine, others say it’s simply an expense or an inconvenience.  But can all of those top athletes that swear by it be wrong?  The answer is simple, NO. As long as your ‘grazing’ is filled with fruit, seeds and vegetables -rather than chips, crisps and chocolate- you will reap the rewards.

Scientists have discovered why eating little-and-often is so beneficial in the role of helping to maintain a healthy weight; By spreading food intake over several
meals, there is a suppression of fatty acid released, enhancing the bodies'
capacity to utilize glucose as fuel, rather than storing it as fat.

The other benefit here is that you will feel less of the negative effects of
extreme hunger such as headaches and mood swings. Many of us experience these symptoms daily, but do not recognise them as hunger signals.

Research also shows that people who ‘graze’ as opposed to eating three large sit down meals have a healthier and balanced diet. It may take some getting used to but the results are beneficial to our health for a number of reasons. A three-meal-a-day eater has a regular routine and, on average, sticks to the same six to seven food sources. This, according to doctors, is not benefiting our health. It is recommended that we should try and eat 16 different food types over two or
three days.

Dr Sandra Drummond from Queen Margaret’s University College Edinburgh said that the ‘grazers’  “ate less fat, more carbohydrates and more fruit and vegetables. Other studies have found grazers to have higher levels of vitamin C and other nutrients - they also tend to have lower levels of body fat.'

To boost the effects of this method, try to include as many fresh fruit or vegetable items in your snacking, this will maximise the effect of the little and often theory.

Cut it out: sugary, sweetened food is the bad guy in town and is best avoided during your training diet. Fizzy drinks, chocolate and sweets are best left alone. Not only will they increase your chances of weight gain but the excess
sugar also spikes up your insulin, which then depresses your blood sugar, making you crave more. Sugar is physically addictive and is chemically similar to
alcohol. People who have trouble controlling their eating often are addicted
and have withdrawals when trying to cut it out. If you consume a lot of sugar
in your current diet try and replace sugary sweets with fruits which contain
natural sugar sources.

Hydration: You may be surprised to learn that you can lose up to a litre of
fluid when participating in exercise, which is a vast amount.  Sweating and the air you breathe out are two of the biggest reasons for the loss of fluids; however the exact amount we lose varies from person to person, depending on how hard and how long you train. Problems can occur if you lose too much fluid, you can fast become dehydrated,which can affect your health and ability to continue exercising. With all this in mind, it is crucial to make sure you get the right amount of fluid before,during and after your workout. It is recommended that you consume between 1.5 to 3 litres daily which, translates to 6 to 8 medium sized glasses a day. Take a look at our hydration guide for more detailed hydration tips.

Planning ahead: Planning meals, water intake and your training schedule will really help you stay focused on your goals. Preparing fresh food will also ensure that you receive increased nutrients. Keep a diary of your progress noting your speed, recovery time and weight. Arranging to train or cook with a partner, friend or colleague may also increase your chances of success, as they provide competition, motivation and support. Ensuring you have the right training kit and aids is also hugely important. Practise makes perfect, so don’t use race day as a trail day. Try and find a food and hydration plan that works for you and stick to it as best you can. If you find it’s not working effectively, try something new in your training sessions rather than at an event. This applies most emphatically with your hydration routine.  Again keeping track of your progress whilst you experiment with your nutrition can be very helpful.

Run and Refuel: Training is where the hard work really begins. Your improved diet, increased hydration and preparation has been done before the run, so what do you do when your training is over? The answer....refuel. Try and make sure that you have a carbohydrate rich meal 20 minutes after a training session, race or exercise class. The short space of time immediately after exercise, the body will efficiently transport these to your muscles. If you have difficulties doing this, a recovery drink is the answer. Good post training foods include yoghurt, bananas, whole meal pasta,tuna, whole meal bread and peanut butter. Recommended drinks include water,fruit smoothie and pre mixed specialist recovery drinks. Energy bars and drinks can be used throughout, but do use them wisely. There is no substitute for real nutrients from real food and naturally sourced drinks.

Nutritionist: If you want to be sure that you’re doing it correctly, visit a nutritionist and discuss your current routine and diet. They will make sure you are doing all of the right things and will design a personalised plan for you if you’re not.

Be Patient: No one dietary or supplement item is going to increase your performance over night but over time these improvements to your diet could help improve your speed, recovery times and general energy levels. Creating your own dietary programme, along with your training schedule can be tricky for some but if you stick with it you will find a combination that works for you.

Good Luck!

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