Friday, June 27, 2014

Clean Eating for Runners

You run for health. How can you easily eat clean for health—and performance? The answer is simpler than you may think: Clean eating starts with enjoying a hearty breakfast. That is, not just a banana, but also a banana + oatmeal + hard-boiled egg. This meal will keep you from getting too hungry mid-morning. We all know what happens when runners get too hungry – we not only eat but also over-eat—and we tend to choose foods with sub-optimal nutritional value, such as the chocolate chip muffin that your co-worked so nicely brought into the office. No comparison to your baggie of baby carrots, eh?

If you are like many weight-conscious runners (and most of my clients), you shudder at the suggestion to eat a hearty breakfast. After all, most weight-conscious runners start their diets at breakfast. Plus, you want to save up calories so you can enjoy a hearty dinner. Right?

Well, maybe it’s time to start being as nice to your body as you are to your car: Car + gas = GO! Body + food = Go BETTER! Yes, you will run better and feel better if you fuel by day, dampen your appetite, and then enjoy a lighter dinner. (You’ll actually find this smaller meal will be more enjoyable when you are not starving because you won’t be fretting about your urges to over-eat.)

When runners fuel by day, they tend to eat quality foods:
oatmeal + chopped dates + slivered almonds
eggs + spinach + cottage cheese
Greek yogurt + banana + granola
Whole wheat bread + peanut butter + honey + raisins
Nuts + dried fruit + string cheese

But when runners under-eat by day, well … you know what happens. You start to crave sweets and choose the wrong foods. Hopefully, in your efforts to eat cleaner, you will be willing to experiment with this fuel-by-day, eat-lighter-by-night fueling pattern. How much bad can happen if you try this for just two days?

With best wishes for good health, high energy, smooth running – and clean eating,

Nancy Clark MS RD
Sports Nutritionist

Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD
Sports nutrition counselor, consultant, speaker (Philly 1/24; Pitt. 2/7; online 24-7) (books, handouts, PowerPoint talks)

Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook NEW Fifth Edition
Food guides for soccer, new runners, marathoners, cyclists   iPhone app: Recipes for Athletes

1155 Walnut St, Newton Highlands, MA 02461
617.795.1875  Fax: 617.963.7408