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The old phrase “you are what you eat” is an excellent motto to live your life by, especially if you are an athlete of any kind. Our bodies are our vehicles for getting us where we want to go in life. If we don’t fill our bodies with the right fuel, our performance will be hindered and we may never get to where we want to go.
That cookie or donut might seem like a good idea to give yourself a quick energy boost right before your run, but you are not doing your body any favors. Foods with white sugar are nothing but empty calories that will leave you feeling empty and drained part way through your run. The quick spike in blood sugar will soon cause you to crash and be followed by fatigue, headache, and performance loss. Is that sweet bite of chocolate chip cookie worth it?
With the word “protein” in the name, you would think a protein bar would be a solid choice for a pre-workout snack. Don’t be fooled by their facade; protein bars contain a lot of sugar and sodium that is unhealthy for you, especially right before a big run.
Drinking a Gatorade or similar drink for your run may seem like the right move but I promise you, it’s not. Next time you are tempted to pick up a sports drink, take a look at the label. You could be downing more than 50 grams of sugar. Sugar is often the second ingredient listed! Save yourself the extra calories and stick to water.
Speaking of water, it is vital to your health to keep your body hydrated during workouts. A dehydrated runner will fatigue quicker, be prone to muscle cramps, and get faint or dizzy. Water is still the best thing to drink before, during, and after your workouts.
Picture it: you set out for your run, your carefully curated playlist is pumping you up, and just as you hit your stride- bam! Your body betrays you and you have to stop mid-run for a bathroom break. Luckily, this kind of disaster can be avoided by steering clear of these types of foods.
Fatty foods take longer for your body to digest so they sit very heavy in your stomach. When you feel your best, you perform your best. Having fatty foods weighing you down during your run will not help you function your best.
Some iron-stomached people out there can chug a glass of milk right before a run and be fine, but they are far and few between. Mixing lactose and a hot and sweaty run is a recipe for intestinal disaster.
Yes, spicy foods are known for boosting your metabolism, but they can also irritate your stomach and intestines. You do not want this irritation to interfere with your record-breaking run. Save that Mexican food for later.
While foods such as chickpeas, soybeans, and peanuts are low in fat, they are high in fiber. Fiber is a staple in a healthy diet because it “keeps things moving," but you probably don’t want things “moving” in the middle of your run.
This is not a one-size-fits-all running regime. Every person’s body is different and you are the expert on yours. You know what foods make you feel sluggish, you know what foods give you digestive issues. If you want to take your running game to the next level, you gotta work with your body.