Let me first preface this by saying I am not a nutritionist or specialist on any kind of diets, but I have tried a number of ways to eat and am willing to share what I know. What I have learned is that any “diet” is usually a fad that is not meant to be long term. What I know is that eating the right way for you and your health concerns will be best for you in the long run. Each person has different nutritional needs, limitations, and allergies. I have friends that each run the gamut. I personally cannot thrive on a super low or no carb way of eating because it triggers headaches and weakness or dizziness when I run. My body needs carbs to function.
With this in mind, I have also learned that I cannot eat junk food and think that I will have incredible runs over the next few days. Instead, I am often met with a sugar high, a headache, and a quick visit with my couch for a few hours. My mindset about food is this: if you eat well, you will run well; if you eat like crap, you will run like crap. It has worked for me time and time again.
While that slice of cake may be enticing at the time, my body certainly puts up a fight after it’s been consumed, and I always lose. Headaches and a crash landing on the couch are not where I want to end up after I eat. These reasons are why I try to fuel my body with food that has nutritional value: lean proteins, some dairy (almond milk for me), vegetables and fruits that are as colorful as the rainbow, whole grains, and even the occasional treat of a bowl of ice cream every once in a while! Water is yet another undeniably valuable drink that our bodies thrive on and need daily.
As for fuel for runs, I have navigated through the selection in our local running store and tried them all. I have found that after several miles, my stomach is sensitive to the amounts of sugars in some gels and chomps. It is best to try out several types of fuel, including but not limited to: gels, chomps, tablets and powdered fuel to be added to water, electrolyte drinks, gums, and even a waffle! Each runner I have met has a new favorite and will vehemently tell you what doesn’t work for them. My favorites at the moment are cherry limeade Nuun tablets, that you place in water to dissolve, and black cherry Clif Bloks. If you are interested in trying the Nuun tablets, you can order at http://www.nuun.com and use the code “hydratewithus18” for 25% off 4 tubes until May 31st, 2018. I use both types of fuel to keep my electrolytes and energy up while I run.
As a new runner, it is best to try different ones, on different runs, to compare and contrast and see how it makes you feel, if it gives you enough or too little energy, if it causes stomach upset, or if the flavor is even something you can tolerate on your runs. Another consideration for the type of fuel you use is whether or not you need a drink to swallow the fuel or for it to work appropriately. Please read the packaging on each type of fuel to use it as recommended.
Overall, fuel in the form of food you eat on a daily basis and fuel you use during your runs both influence performance or lack thereof on any given run. If you have dietary restrictions or concerns, please talk with your doctor and or nutritionist before starting a new style of fueling your body to be sure it fits your needs. Remember, your body is like a well-oiled machine when it is fueled properly!