High-protein sources for vegans: Kidney beans and tofu
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Whether you’re a professional runner or a beginner going on a few short runs a week, you need to fill your body with the right nutrients and energy sources. Express.co.uk chatted to Signe Svanfeldt, nutritionist at Lifesum (www.lifesum.com), the world’s number 1 nutrition app to find out what you should be eating before and after a run.
What to eat before a run
You should plan your meals around your runs on the days that you go running – for some people this might be every day, but for others, it could be once a week.
Signe said: “It’s important to plan your meals and your runs in order to optimise performance.
“If you know you’ll have a long run at lunchtime, make sure to eat a large breakfast with carbohydrates, protein and fat – like oatmeal with fruit and peanut butter.
“Then, closer to the run, have a snack with simple carbs and some protein, such as a smoothie with low-fat Greek yoghurt, or rice crackers with eggs.”
Carbohydrates are our body’s primary source of fuel so your glycogen stores need to be filled up with carbs before a run to give your body easily accessible energy.
Signe added: “Before and after a run it’s better to focus on eating simple carbs that are easily absorbed and provide quick energy.
“Complex carbs should be placed on meals in between the runs, as they take longer to digest and provide smooth, long-lasting energy.”
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What to eat after a run
Some people work up an appetite during a run and are desperate to eat a meal as soon as they get home, while others would prefer to eat a snack straight after and have a meal later.
Signe said: “It is highly individual how close after a race one feels comfortable eating, but it is beneficial to fill up the emptied glycogen storage quickly after a run, as well as eating some protein to nourish and aid muscle recovery.”
Signe recommends you eat around one to 1.2 grams of carbohydrates per kg body weight, and around 0.3 g protein per kg bodyweight straight after finishing a run or workout, or at least within one hour.
If this is too complicated for you to work out in your head, download the Lifesum app to keep track of your daily intake energy and nutrient intake every single day.
It is important to do this because if you don’t give your body what it needs, this will most likely have a negative impact on your performance.
Signe said: “When you track your daily intake, you can easily go back and evaluate how the run felt, and connect it to what food you had that day – which can help you find the optimal meal schedule for you and your runs.”
The Lifesum app will suggest a recommended macronutrient distribution for you, but if you want to, you can adjust it to your own preferences.
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When it’s time to have a proper meal, which Signe recommends you leave till around an hour to three hours after finishing your race, you need to fill up on a meal heavy in carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats.
Before and after a run, Signe advises you to eat simple carbohydrates such as bananas, rice or corn cakes, pasta, rice, cereal, dried fruits and potatoes.
In between runs, when you’ve already been for a run and plan to go for another, you need to eat complex carbohydrates for energy such as rye bread, whole grain bread, quinoa, barley, root vegetables, lentils and beans.
Protein prevents muscle breakdown and optimises recovery and should be eaten pre and post-run.
Examples of protein to eat before and after a run are eggs, fish, poultry, tofu, low-fat Greek yoghurt, low-fat cottage cheese.
If you’re not sure what good fat is, stick to avocado, salmon, nuts, seeds and olive oil.
One of the most important things for runners to do is stay hydrated throughout the day and during runs.
It is recommended to drink around two to three litres per day when you don’t run, but you’ll need to drink even more when you do replace the amount of fluid lost during your run.
Signe said: “It can be easier to drink smaller quantities of water more often than to drink larger amounts at once, so always keep a water bottle next to you.”
If you often forget to drink enough water, you can track each glass with the Lifesum water tracker to ensure that you reach your daily recommendation.
Professional or daily runners should think about adding electrolytes to their water.
Signe explained: “If you’re sweating a lot, the body loses electrolytes such as sodium as well as water.
“If you have been running for less than one hour, water alone will be enough to replace lost fluid, but if your run or race exceeds one hour it can be beneficial to include some electrolytes with the fluid intake. “
The combination of water and electrolytes combined with glucose promotes the absorption of the fluid in the body, which encourages faster and more efficient hydration.
What should I eat on rest days?
The days you don’t run or exercise on are called ‘rest days’, and it is important to think about your dietary intake on these days too.
Signe said: “When eating close to a race or long run, it is beneficial to focus on carbohydrates and protein sources that are easy to digest such as simple carbohydrates and lean protein.
“Not only does your body benefit from absorbing the nutrients quicker close to a race, but eating fibre rich food, or food high in fat, can cause an upset stomach, which you want to avoid close to a race or run.”
Healthy fats are needed as energy during low-intensity activities and important for our enzymes, hormones and for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, but eat them between workouts rather than before a run.
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