Before we get started with part two of finding balance between our diets and our workouts, I realize that this post may contain information that many of you already know.
But sometimes, just because we know something, doesn’t mean we apply it.
It can often take repeated exposure to hearing the same information over and over to make us finally wake up and do something with it.
You may know you need to eat more, you may know it’s important to refuel after a workout, you may know you still need to eat on a rest day yet your brain fights it in a quest to not gain weight.
I understand, really I do, but denying your body food especially when it needs it the most, is not the way to lose weight! In fact, eating too little can and will, eventually, slow your metabolism and cause you to gain weight, along with bring you a whole other host of problems.
So, just like last week’s post, I spoke with Laura (thanks Laura!) about some of the questions I often receive regarding balancing our food with our running and workouts.
I have interjected some of my own thoughts in conjunction with her advice along with a few links of interest as they relate to each topic.
The first question today discusses what we should eat before and after our workouts. I know that not everyone likes to eat before a run. Please make sure you aren’t lying to yourself about this. Are you skipping the fuel in favor of consuming fewer calories or does the food really not sit well in your stomach?
Do you really want to test out glycogen depletion training or are you trying to run off last night’s dinner instead of eating additional calories?
Pre and Post Run Fuel – Why and What?
It’s important to eat a source of easily digestible carbohydrates before your workout. You want to select a carbohydrate that will give you a sustained source of energy rather than a carbohydrate crash, but you also want to avoid anything that will have you running for the bathroom.
You don’t need to eat a huge meal before a run; a small 100-300 calorie snack will work well.
Popular pre-run options:
- Whole-Grain Waffles
The amount of time needed between what you eat and when you run varies by person. Some need more than an hour to digest, others can run within 20 minutes.
After a run, you want to eat a balanced combination of complex carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. To replenish your glycogen stores and start the recovery process for your muscles, be sure to eat within 60 minutes of finishing your run.
-> Although the 6o minute time frame is the benchmark, I do much better when I eat my post run meal within 30 minutes following my run, especially my long run. The sooner I eat, the better I recover and the less hungry I am for the rest of the day. If I miss the window, especially if I go longer than an hour, I get headaches, stiff muscles and remain ravenous all day long!
How much more should we eat if we are training for a race?
The harder you train, the more calories your body needs! Listen to your body’s hunger cues and respond accordingly.
-> Check out this post Michele recently shared which shows her day of food as she trains for the Boston Marathon. Even if you don’t follow a Paleo diet (which I don’t), it will demonstrate for you that all you need to do is eat when you are hungry and have your meals include extra of what you normally eat in order to fuel your workouts.
How much more should we be eating on the days we exercise versus the days we rest?
You may be tempted to cut your calories on rest days, but eating enough is vital on those days to support recovery.
Listen to your hunger. Your body doesn’t lie to you and food plays a vital role in the recovery process. Your running is more likely to suffer if you restrict foods than if you eat according to hunger and athletic needs.
-> My rest days typically fall after hard workout days which usually means I wake up super hungry. Just because I am not running does not mean I don’t eat a lot. If I am hungry, I keep eating until satisfied. If I am not as hungry, I don’t keep eating. It’s fairly simple.
How do we know we are fueling enough to maintain a healthy weight while running and increasing mileage/intensity?
Signs you are not eating enough for your body and your workouts:
- Your weight is dropping (when you are trying to maintain)
- Absence of period/suddenly irregular cycles
- Increased fatigue
- Performance suffering
- Cravings increasing, especially for sweets
We have talked A TON about amenorrhea and what it means when you aren’t getting your period. For most females, it’s a true sign of a lack of energy flowing throughout the body which is often a direct result of not eating enough to support our daily functions and workouts.
Your body is real good at letting you know what’s up – appetite, cravings, performance, strength – all indicators of your balance. If you pay attention, you will notice that things can change from one week to the next. It’s totally normal! We are not machines. The trick here though is to listen and make the adjustments necessary as you notice certain symptoms. If you ignore the cues, your workouts will suffer, you run the risk for injury, medical issues (including Female Athlete Triad) and, well, you will be a really cranky person because you are tired and hungry.
Posts of interest:
Finding Balance Between Our Diets & Workouts < – In case you missed last week!Finding Balance Between Our Diets & Workouts @thisrunnersrecipes #diet #balance #running… Click To Tweet
Any questions you want us to address specifically in another post?
Do you find your appetite is more intense the day of a long run/race or the day after?
What do you like to eat before you run? What doesn’t work for you that you know of? I get hungry during my run if I eat toast with peanut butter so I really stick to oatmeal and/or banana. Oh, and apples do not work for me. I cannot dice apples into my oatmeal before I run!