I run a decent amount (~50-60 miles per week on average) but I’m awful with nutrition.  Historically my poor eating hasn’t been a noticeable issue.  But as I approach 37, I’m starting to feel more sluggish during training if I eat poorly or fail to hydrate adequately prior.  Though this observation should be a catalyst for change on it’s own, I’m still finding it challenging to maintain a clean diet.

By writing out high level nutrition principles / guidelines to follow, my hope is that if I better understand why certain foods help my performance, then I’ll be more focused on committing to a healthy diet on a regular basis.

This will likely be an evolving document as I plan to use it as a tool to get smarter and become healthier.

Thanks so much for your time.

SL

Core principles:

  1. Stay balanced (nutrients, macros)
    • But eat more veggies always
    • Avoid synthetics if possible (and simple carbs even though that’s impossible given affinity for candy)
  2. Drink more water
  3. Listen to your body
  4. Don’t talk about it to anybody else (it’s really boring to everybody but you, just keep it to yourself)

Nutrition:

Water: 

  • Drink healthy amounts of it
  • Helps transportation of nutrients
  • Helps keep your temperature balanced
  • Helps keep muscles from fatigue

Vitamins:

  • Vitamin D:
    • Good for bone health (1,000 – 5,000 IU per day)
  • Iron:
    • Helpful in red blood cell formation
    • Check for deficiency first

Macros: 

  • Focus on general principles first:
    • Key is balance of each type of food group (Proteins, Fats, Carbohydrates)
  • Protein:
    • Key in muscle repair
    • Ideas (jerky, nuts, eggs)
  • Fats:
    • Fuel aerobic metabolism
    • Try to eat healthy fats (e.g. nuts, avocado, oil)
  • Carbohydrates
    • Key energy source
    • Focus on more complex carbs (e.g. bananas, kale) but simple carbs (e.g. white bread, starbursts) not bad before during or immediately after a workout

Post run nutrition:

  • Focus on hydration first, then eat as you have an appetite

Metabolic efficiency:

  • Fuel is held in two sources (carbs and fats)
    • Carbs (glycogen):  Burn hot and burn off fast (90 – 120 min of high intensity effort)
      • For high intensity efforts under 90 min, no refueling needed
      • For low intensity efforts under 150 min, no refueling needed
    • Fats (energy stored in fat stores):  Burns slow and long
      • Unless fat adapted (in ketosis), your body doesn’t know how to burn fats properly
      • So in the case of a low intensity effort over 2 – 3 hours, most runners need to re-fuel with carbs every hour (between 300 calories per hour).  You’ll burn 1,000 per hour when running so you’ll be operating at a deficit which is why your diet in the days leading up to a race / long run is important
  • Fat adaptation / ketosis:
    • Body is extremely adaptable
    • Fat burns slower than sugars so the idea with a high fat diet for an endurance athlete is that you will be more efficient in a state of ketosis due to the fact that you will not have to constantly be refueling
    • To teach the body to burn fat, need to deplete body of carbs and then work out to force the body to adapt.  It’s really that simple and can happen in days