Nutrition an important component of training for Sun Run

Dietitian recommends eating regularly to avoid binge eating later and keeping hydrated to prevent an energy crash. Eating enough carbohydrates for quick energy and protein for lasting energy is key

Dietician Melissa Kazan. Francis Georgian / PNG

When training for a long-distance run, the best way to eat less is to eat more.

“Make sure you’re eating regularly throughout the day,” says registered dietitian Melissa Kazan. “You should snack before heading out, and not run on an empty stomach because you will have poor control of portions later.”

It’s a common mistake that people who are trying to lose weight while training for a 10K run like the Vancouver Sun Run on April 14, she said.

“You have to keep up your energy during training to prevent bingeing or overeating later on,” said Kazan, who works with athletes on nutrition as an important component of their training regime.

“Don’t wait until you’re starved to eat,” she said. “You need to eat every two to three hours. Waiting four to five hours is quite a long stretch.”

Runners in training should add some healthy snacks to their daily diet, either before or after a run, rather than increasing calories at each meal.

“Having a big steak for lunch and then heading out for a run might not be a good idea,” she said.

But some lean protein like chicken in a sandwich with some low-fibre vegetables like carrots, two to three hours before a run, is ideal.

“You have to avoid fibre-rich foods like a big salad or chili because there’s the potential for bloating,” said Kazan. “All the up and down motion is going to cause gut upset.”

While consuming calories for energy is the goal, they should be the right kind of calories.

“People can have a lot of calories and not a lot of nutrition,” said Kazan.

Snacks should combine carbohydrates, for quick energy, with some protein, to stabilize the blood sugar levels because it takes longer to digest, she said.

Good examples include granola bars, nuts, fruit, bananas, toast with peanut butter, a bowl of cereal, and low-fat yogurt.

“An important part of fuelling the body for physical exercise, like the Sun Run, is eating a wholesome and balanced diet,” said Corby-Sue, head of menu planning at HelloFresh Canada, a meal kit company.

“Even the newly released Canada Food Guide recommends making a habit out of eating a variety of foods,” she said.

Some of the examples from the company’s recent menu are creamy tarragon chicken with roasted red potatoes and brussels sprouts, kale and black bean quesadillas with tomato salsa and sour cream, and popcorn shrimp and chopped salad with DIY seafood sauce.

While caffeine can increase runners’ stamina, it’s not a good idea for beginners to fuel a run on coffee because they’re not getting the nutrition they need through carbohydrates and protein.

“Using caffeine is better left to an advanced runner with advanced nutrition skills,” Kazan said.

Hydration is important, as is replacing electrolytes and salt, especially if the runner is a “salty sweater” (their eyes sting from sweat or their sweat leaves a salty residue).

The latest nutritional advice is to have your meal plate divided into a quarter protein, a quarter whole grains or starches and half vegetables, with about a tablespoon of fat.

A low carbohydrate, high protein diet, like the keto diet designed to burn fat, isn’t a good fit for training runners.

“Usually if you don’t have enough carbs in your diet, that can lead to an injury,” said Kazan.

In a diet for runners and non-athletes, balance is important.

“Treating yourself with the occasional chocolate or a glass of wine is okay,” she said.




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