What to Eat?
By Albert Tan
There many resources and references on nutrition for pro-long exercise and endurance sports available in the library, bookstore and on the internet. If you have been reading a lot on nutrition for endurance sports or for running itself, you might be overwhelmed by some of the information and the application of the eating strategy. It is because some of this information was not meant for you but rather for elite or top runners. This article emphasizes on healthy eating for better health and fitness for beginners and intermediate runners.
Most food contains mainly carbohydrate, protein and fat while some have vitamin and minerals. To put things simple, carbohydrate is the main energy source in running; followed by fats and at times protein. There are two types of carbohydrates: simple carbohydrate and complex carbohydrate.
Simple carbohydrate is easier to breakdown into energy such as jelly, chocolate, honey and other liquid form of supplement which is high in glycemic index (high GI); while complex carbohydrate takes time to breakdown and convert into energy such as pasta, brown rice, potato and spaghetti which is low in glycemic index (Low GI). There are foods that contain both the simple and complex carbohydrate.
Protein normally comes from poultry or meat, eggs and some from plants like soy bean and legume. While fats come from meat and cooking oil.
Understanding the type of food to eat can help to sustain your running performance for a longer period of time and prevent immune system breakdown.
What to take before the training
Some of you might have heard or seen people running with empty stomach especially those running early in the morning and sometimes in the evening. These people might train for different goals.
Taking complex carbohydrates can fill you up and provide plenty of nutrients and fiber that give you long-lasting energy during your long run or speed workout. It is advisable that you consume a balance meal that consists of mainly carbohydrate, meat, vegetables, and fruits and you should have your meal 3 to 4 hours before your run. For morning run, have about two pieces of bread with jam or peanut butter along with a glass of chocolate drink or milk two hours before your morning run.
What to take during the training
During most of your training, consuming plain water and electrolyte or isotonic drink will be sufficient. The need for energy gel would apply only if you plan to do running of more than 1 hour. It is not necessary to consume solid food like banana, bread or energy bar during a run, just keep yourself hydrated.
What to take after the training
After your training, remember to drink. Replenish your energy through some light snack such as muffin, recovery bar, recovery drink or buns within the first two hours upon completion of your training. If you do not feel like you can take in any food, drinks would be fine in order to promote recovery.
Do not forget to eat a proper meal that is high in carbohydrate along with some protein, good fats, vegetable and fruits. Skipping meals and failure to refuel your body after a hard session of workout may cost you your health and performance.
Take some vitamins and minerals after a hard session of training especially during your meal time. The most important vitamin and mineral would be vitamin B for metabolism and breakdown of food source into energy; vitamin C and E both act as antioxidant to help to prevent oxidative damage to the body during exercise; Glucosamine for preventing joint pain and promoting growth of the cartilage in your joint; Calcium for bone health and muscle contraction, Iron for formation of haemoglobin and myoglobin in red blood cells and muscle cells that help carry oxygen to the body; Zinc for stabilizing metabolism and maintain immune system and lastly, Potassium for our nerves and muscle to function properly.
In summary, do not to train with empty stomach or with a full stomach especially when performing long duration or high speed workout with exception to light and easy run. Remember to replenish your energy after a heavy workout for recovery and good health.
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