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What Should a Training Runner Eat? Houston Sports Doc on Nutrition

Author: Rosemary Buckle, M.D.

Whether you’re training for a 5k, half-marathon, full-marathon, or just want to feel better as you jog around the neighborhood, there’s no time like the present to improve your diet. As a Houston sports doctor, I’m open to discussing all facets of health with my patients – and that includes nutrition.

Making a conscious decision to improve your nutrition is one of the best preventive measures you can take as an athlete. Poor nutrition can lead to poor performance, injury, and long-term stress on the body. Today on the blog, I’d like to share some tips specifically for training runners who would like to improve their performance.

Calories & Mileage

One of the first things to consider when re-evaluating your nutrition is how much running you plan to do. Each mile you run burns approximately 100 calories. So, if you’re putting in 5-6 miles a day, you will need significantly more calories than you did prior to beginning an exercise routine.

Sourcing Your Calories

Not all calories are created equal. Calories primarily come from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

  • 60-70% carbs: The majority of your “runners-fuel” calories should be from carbohydrates, which break down into simple sugars to fuel the body. Bread, pasta, and rice are common high-carb sources.
  • 20-30% fat: Some fats are actually good for you, and play an essential role in vitamin-absorption and cell growth. Focus on unsaturated fats (nuts, avocados, and plant oils) and polyunsaturated fats (salmon, tuna, nuts, seeds, leafy greens).
  • 10-15% protein: You may have thought protein would have a higher percentage in a training runner’s diet. However, your body actually doesn’t need nearly as many calories from protein as it does calories from carbohydrates and fats. Nevertheless, protein is essential for rebuilding muscle and producing enzymes and hormones. While we often think of meat as a top protein-source, you can also find ample protein in certain legumes, grains, and nuts.

Other Essentials for the Training Runner

  • Post-Run Snacking: After you finish your run, enjoy a healthy snack with carbs and protein to replenish your body.
  • Constant Hydration: Be sure to drink plenty of water before and after your run. If you’re running a longer distance (and/or in the heat of a Houston summer), be sure to drink during your run, as well.

Schedule Your Appointment With a Houston Sports Doc

To schedule your appointment with a Houston sports medicine physician, call us at (713) 756-5546. You can also schedule your appointment online.
Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.