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Eating to Run

There’s so much contradicting advice when it comes to eating and running. Should we eat lots of carbs, hardly any carbs, low fat or high fat and what about protein? It’s a very confusing picture.

At the end of the day, we are all individuals and what works for one of us may not be the same thing that works for another. We decided to ask Kathrine Switzer, with her 58 years of running experience, to give us her opinions on the balance between running and food and what she eats to fuel her active life.  

What advice do you have for women who want to lose weight through running?

Many women who are aiming to lose weight, mistakenly decide to cut back on calories while they are training so that get maximum weight loss. This is counter-productive.  Food is fuel, it is as simple as that.  You need to eat enough to sustain solid training. When you run regularly, particularly when you run long on a steady basis (say 4 times a week), you raise your metabolism and this is what creates weight loss.  Metabolism is the rate at which you burn calories, and this is why top runners are usually skinny. They eat like horses but have the energy to run hard. If you do not eat enough, you will be tired and depressed and unmotivated to run.

What are your top tips for a good running diet?

One thing I have learned over the years is the importance of protein.  When you run, you break down muscle tissue and protein repairs it.  The other thing is the importance of fruit; fruit is a miracle food.  Especially citrus and avocado. Therefore, I have fruit and protein in each meal. If you are a vegetarian, you have to plan very carefully and use a lot of tofu, cheese, etc.  If you are a vegan and training for long distance running, I'd suggest you get professional advice. 

What do you think a typical day’s menu should include? 

Breakfast:  Give your breakfast a protein boost by adding nut butter or avocado to your toast. Add nuts and yogurt to cereal. Eat fruit; whole, not just juice. If you can eat eggs, that's great, I personally cannot face eggs until noon.

Lunch:  Add protein rich foods to whatever you eat. So, for example, for a sandwich, include tuna fish, cheese or turkey. If you have salad for lunch, add things like avocado, cheese or egg. Always have a piece or two of fruit.

Dinner: Mix it up, variety is key: steak, fish, eggs or chicken.  Heavy up on green veggies. Include some carbs but as unprocessed as possible such as potatoes, lentils or rice.  I always have a big salad and put fruit in it and that is how I end my meal, it doubles as my dessert. 

What do you eat before a race?

I have toast with nut butter, a banana, coffee and lots of water.

It’s interesting to hear Kathrine’s views. We all have our own nutrition tips. Why not share yours in the comments below? 

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