10 Rules on Nutrition For Runners


A good training plan teaches you the pacing and increases fat-burning capacity. When a training plan is followed correctly it will significantly contribute to the running economy.

The nutrition part can’t be neglected either. The fuel that you put inside has a direct correlation with your performance.

Rule 1. What you put inside is important

Correct weight management matters for athletes even more than for sedentary people. Few studies conducted on Ethiopian runners confirm that those who are the fastest have the lowest fat percentage. Excess fat is a dead weight and increases the energy cost of running. A typical runner who sheds just one pound of body fat could see a one-minute improvement in his or her marathon time without any change in fitness.  Pick foods that are high in nutrients and low in additives, preservatives and refined ingredients.

Rule 2. Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates play a major role in athlete’s optimal performance, as they are the main source of energy that are converted into glycogen or stored glucose that fuels muscles and liver. While protein and fat can also provide glucose, carbohydrates remain the fastest and easiest source of it. A good amount of carbs help to keep energy levels high. Once your body carbohydrates stock is depleted, you get the so-called feeling of “hitting the wall”. The average requirement for general training needs (less than 1 hour a day) — 5-7 g/kg BW/day. For endurance training (1-3 hours) — 7-10 g/kg BW/day. Choose good carbohydrates like fruits, veggies and whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa or rolled oats.

Rule 3. Protein foods

Protein foods are important for building and repairing muscles. A well balanced diet containing everyday foods will generally supply more than enough protein. The timing and type of protein are as important as the amount of protein in the diet. Consume it after the training or before going to bed – this will give your body a good source for rebuilding the muscle tissue. Get protein from lean meats, fish and eggs. If you are vegetarian – plan your diet and you will meet your protein needs without any problems. Beans and dairy products like cottage cheese and Greek yogurt are great sources of protein for vegetarians. An average requirement for adult is 1.2 to 1.7g/kg BW/day of protein.

Rule 4. 20-25% of the energy consumption should come from fats.

Dietary fat is a macronutrient that provides energy for your body. Fat is essential to your health because it supports a number of functions in your body. Same as protein, it helps to slow the rate at which the carbohydrates enter the bloodstream, thus providing sustained, consistent energy. Dietary fat also helps the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin E – a powerful antioxidant that helps quicken the recovery process. For fats, look to mixed unsalted nuts, peanut butter, olive or canola oil and avocados, as well as oily fish.

Rule 5. Fish oil

Number one source of Omega-3 fatty acids that are not produced by our bodies and therefore should be obtained through food or supplements. Fish oil will benefit any athlete from runner to golfer – it makes you stronger and leaner which is essential for optimal performance. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce the exercise induced muscle damage and delayed-onset muscle soreness, thus speeding up the recovery between hard training sessions. For endurance athletes who are constantly under the physical and environmental stress fish oil is a must supplement. Malaysian athletes should consider taking fish oil, as omega-3s can enhance performance in hot climate.

Rule 6. Varied & wholesome nutrient-rich diet

A varied and wholesome nutrient-rich diet that meets energy needs of an athlete and is based largely on vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, grains, lean animal meats, oils and carbohydrates should ensure an adequate intake of all essential vitamins and minerals. Getting the right amount of energy to stay healthy and to perform well is key. Too much and body fat increases: too little and performance falls, resulting to illness.

Rule 7. Hydration

Maintaining hydration is important for performance. An adequate intake of fluid before, during (where appropriate), and after exercise is especially important in hot climates. Salt replacement is important when sweat losses are high, but needs vary between athletes. Forget about the eight glasses a day rule – you probably need more. Drink when you think you need to and check your urine colour. It should be light yellow colour. If it is dark – time to drink water!

Rule 8. Vitamins

Athletes are cautioned against the indiscriminate use of dietary supplements, but careful use of a small number of supplements and sports foods may benefit some athletes. Vitamins, protein shakes and BCAAs are important additions to an athlete diet. Choose the companies you trust and keep looking for a brand that you like the most.

Rule 9. Iron

Iron deficiency is a concern for all athletes. If you are on the training peak, maintenance of iron stores becomes even more difficult as it is lost in sweat like sodium and calcium. Iron levels can take up to six months to become dangerously depleted and you might not notice it right away. Constant impact activity, such as running, reduces iron levels more dramatically due to a more strenuous form of hemolysis. With each foot strike, a small amount of blood is released from the damaged capillaries. In time this will cause anemia if the athlete does not pay close attention to diet. Iron rich plant-based foods (peanut butter, soybean nuts, apricots and most of the nuts) are best consumed on a daily basis with vitamin C to help with absorption. If running mileage is greater than 50 miles (80km) per week, an iron supplement is recommended. To maintain efficient levels of iron, take regular blood tests twice a year.

Rule 10. Food is an important part of life

Athletes should enjoy the foods that they eat, confident in the knowledge that they have made wise choices. Don’t cut off the entire group of food trying to lose weight because someone told you it will help.




About Olya:
“I count my blessings every Sunday night, sitting on a small balcony overlooking the beautiful neighborhoods in the greenest area in Kuala Lumpur. I plan new travels almost every day, as the world is such an amazing place if you were to see through its beauty. I consider myself a lucky person and am convinced I did something good in my previous lives.“I count my blessings every Sunday night, sitting on a small balcony overlooking the beautiful neighborhoods in the greenest area in Kuala Lumpur. I plan new travels almost every day, as the world is such an amazing place if you were to see through its beauty. I consider myself a lucky person and am convinced I did something good in my previous lives. Running and yoga are my two biggest passions. I am the happiest person to have a full-time job teaching it and sharing what I learned over the years. I am the head coach of Skechers Running Academy and a freelance yoga teacher. I am driven by my students’ success and honored to contribute into the health industry in the country I call home for 4 years now. I blog on www.runyogamakan.com about running, yoga and food.” – Coach Olya Kudryavtseva