How to start tailoring your diet to maximise your mileage

Discussing the major food groups that runners need and a break down of just how gutsy we're allowed to be

Enjoying his smoothie as part of his balanced diet.Enjoying his smoothie as part of his balanced diet.

Nutrition is the real fundamental behind successful training. You can spend hours in the gym or on the road but then one bad day of eating can reverse a lot of your hard work. If you’re just getting the jogging fever then here’s a quick guide to a runners diet and how you can start to transform yours.

Of course, as runners gain more experience they come to learn the uniqueness of their own body’s. Jogger’s own Malcolm Bradbrook recently told us about his race day remedies and said added sugars make him feel hungry. You’ll come to pick up your own tips and tricks but to get you going, here is a basic break down of what a runner needs.

Enjoying some food before she goes out for her days run
Enjoying some food before she goes out for her days run
What does a runner’s diet need?

Beginners will quickly realise carbohydrates will become their best friends. They are the main food group that give our bodies energy so it’s important we eat a sufficient amount so we’re not snoozing on the road.

Proteins are important in a runner’s diet to help us recover and prevent DOMS. As we exercise we cause tears in our muscles fibres. Our bodies repair those tears and strengthen them so when they’re put under the same strain again they can cope, or cope better. Proteins are imperative for our bodies to successfully repair so runners have got to cram in those chicken dinners.

Fats are a misunderstood food group. Unfortunately, I can’t stand here and preach that you can eat whatever fatty substances you want. But believe it or not, some aren’t too bad to consume.

Polyunsaturated fats found in nuts, fish oils and Monounsaturated in plant-based oil products like Olive oil and nut oil both help lower your body’s cholesterol. This will benefit your cardiovascular health. Fats are used to encourage the absorption of some vitamins and are also an essential fuel source for low-intensity exercise.

What is a good macros breakdown for a runner?

Between 50-60%of your diet should be carbohydrates. This gives us enough fuel for our bodies to burn but doesn’t mean too much will be left to reside. Good carbs to focus on our complex carbohydrates. They include cereals and grains that give the body slow-burning energy that’s released throughout the day.

Our proteins are vital to repairing our damaged muscles fibres. 15-25% would be a suitable place to start as this will provide our body with the appropriate nourishment to help us get back on the road.

Our fat intake is generally lower – perhaps between 10-20%. This is because fat can easily be stored and give us a bulky appearance but the two forms mentioned earlier give your cardiovascular system a quick MOT as they clean up our veins and arteries, reducing our risk of cardiovascular disease and reducing the strain our bodies feel when we run.

Fruits and vegetables should be eaten throughout the day. We adhere to the usual 5 a day rule for fruit and veg but to give you a visual sense imagine this. Aim for two or three portions of fruit every day and try to fill half your dinner with vegetables. They provide us with anti-toxins and micronutrients that give us that full feeling as well as helping to clear our system.

A tasty selections of foods you might like to try.
A tasty selections of foods you might like to try.
How often should runners eat?

The usual three meals a day will suit beginner but remember to consume the food groups mentioned above. As you begin to become more competitive with your training whether that’s increasing your intensity or distance, you may feel you need to eat more. That could mean an extra meal or larger portion sizes.

For those of you trying to lose weight, it’s important to create a caloric deficit. You need to eat fewer calories than your body burns each day. If you decide to start running your body will burn more calories throughout the day. It’s important to replace part of those extra calories with the right foods that will keep your energy levels high such as complex carbs.


Joe Tucker
the authorJoe Tucker
Joe is an aspiring fitness journalist looking to get his foot in the industry at A fair-weather runner and sparring sissy who occasionally enjoys rolling down hills ... on two wheels that is. Any story ideas? Feel free to DM him with any ideas.

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