Five Things I Learned About Nutrition For Runners

As someone who’s been running for 18 years and eating for many more, you might think I’d know all there is to know about nutrition for runners, but that’s not the case. In my early years of running I was focused on eating for weight loss. Once I settled at a healthy “happy weight,” I focused on overall nutrition. More recently I’ve probably gotten too laid back, but now that I’m in a new decade I’m trying to pay more attention to my food choices again.   

nutrition for runners

Since I don’t run marathons I don’t do much to fuel my runs, but when Laura invited me to try her Fit and Fueled nutrition program, she promised it was not just for marathoners–and she was right. Now that her course has wrapped up, I thought I’d share five things I learned that apply to any active woman.

Five Things I Learned About Nutrition For Runners

1. Limiting sugar is easier–and harder–than I thought. I know from doing Laura’s sugar-free challenge last year  that my typical diet doesn’t include much added sugar. The main culprits are my Chobani Coconut  blended yogurt (about 9 g added sugar) and Chobani Coco Loco Flip (probably at least 18 g added sugar). The blended yogurt fits easily within Laura’s suggestion to limit added sugar to 25 g day, but I’ve relegated the Flips to an occasional treat instead of a daily snack.

2. I should give up reschedule my mid-afternoon piece of dark chocolate.  Laura  also shared advice on when to consume sugar, explaining that enjoying it with (or at the end of) a meal reduces its impact on blood sugar levels and prevents insulin swings. That means I would be better off if I didn’t raid my dark chocolate stash–or dig into a Coco Loco Flip–for a mid-afternoon break at work.

3. I should eat sooner after my workouts. I’ve heard the advice to refuel within 30-60 minutes of finishing a long run before, but I’m still not good at implementation. On weekdays, I don’t eat until after I’ve showered and gotten ready for work, and even on weekends I’m likely to enjoy a cup of coffee or two before I start fixing my post-run breakfast. Eating during the suggested window is supposed help your muscles restock glycogen stores, which promote recovery and readiness for your next run. When I start doing longer runs again, I will focus on adjusting my post-run habits.

4. Training on low fuel can help your body run more efficiently. Laura’ suggests  doing a variety of fasted vs. fueled runs during your training program. I usually do short runs from home in a fasted state, but if I’m driving somewhere I usually have a rice cake with peanut butter on the way. 

5. Rest is when the magic happens. I know that muscles recover, repair, and rebuild in between workouts but I am not very good at putting that knowledge into practice with my workout schedule. You know I love all the workouts and hate taking rest days, but Laura’s suggested schedule for women my age has only two hard days, one moderate day, and four easy/rest days. 

Laura will be offering her Fit and Fueled class again in March, so if you want to learn more about nutrition for runners, check out her website for more information.

I’m linking up with Running on Happy and
Fairytales and Fitness for the Friday Five.

Have you fine-tuned your nutrition to fuel your running?

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18 Responses to Five Things I Learned About Nutrition For Runners

  1. Wendy says:

    I do fasted runs–mostly based on time crunches more than any other reason! But running like that has helped me during long runs. I think it’s trained my body to use it’s own fuel (aka fat) when nothing else is available.
    Wendy recently posted…Keep Calm and Stay Optimistic When Your Race Plans Go AwryMy Profile

  2. I’m with you on the snacking! I eat lunch at 10:50 so when I get home from work at 3:45 i’m starving and eat all the snacks (hello cookie dough)!

    I also have a hard time refueling after a run. My first priority is showering and then I usually just wait till dinner time to eat.

  3. I know I need to take more rest days! My trainer has been yelling at me about this for years. Like you, I hate rest days 🙂

  4. I always run fasted, I also run first thing in the morning. And I agree, rest is magical.

  5. Great tips! I need to get better about the sugar in my diet. The majority is from natural sources, but I could be better, especially in the evening.

  6. Because I rarely run first thing in the morning — lucky me! — I also rarely run fasted. I did, however, rearrange when I eat a “treat” to after a meal — that one really resonated with me, too.

    I really enjoyed the course!
    Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy recently posted…5 Inflammatory foods to avoid . . .My Profile

  7. Chelsea says:

    I definitely could use some fine tuning when it comes to my nutrition and running! I’m a lot better about it when I’m training for longer distances but I tend to slack off when it comes to shorter distances. I could use some work in that area! 🙂 These are great tips!!

  8. Chaitali says:

    All great lessons! I struggle with the sugar thing too… that’s something I’m working on this year.
    Chaitali recently posted…Friday Five – random thingsMy Profile

  9. I think we all need to relook at our dietary habits on a regular basis. It’s so easy to slip into bad habits without even realizing it.

  10. Lesley says:

    I learned to have something easy to eat right after my workouts. When I started long distance running and missed a snack, my food choices would be awful that day. I would look to eat anything because I’d be hungry the whole time.

  11. Sugar is a tricky little beast. I’ve learned that smaller meals more often works better for me than bigger meals less frequently.

  12. I thought Laura’s class was awesome! I have been doing my #5at5’s in a fasted state for awhile now…(over a year?), and I can feel the difference with my clothing. Mind you, I have not lost any weight (I’ve actually gained a few pounds), but everything fits me better than it did a couple years ago, so I’m pretty sure, little by little, the fat has been slowly melting away LOL
    Kimberly Hatting recently posted…Should I Stay or Should I Go?My Profile

  13. This sounds so interesting! I have wondering how much added sugar I have. I sometimes get those Chobani flips and they are good but definitely seem more like a dessert than a healthy snack! I need to be better about eating right after i work out too.

  14. Rachel says:

    I’m glad you learned a lot! For women, we should be getting post workout protein ASAP. I used to skip out on post workout fuel for about an hour. Now I drink a protein smoothie right after.
    Rachel recently posted…Cleveland Rocks! 5 Reasons to Love the Cleveland MarathonMy Profile

  15. Darlene says:

    How interesting.

    I could never run fasted. I eat even when I run in the am.

    But I can change my treat to after a meal.

  16. Jenn says:

    Interesting.

    I’ve been better at taking in more protein and I don’t need to fuel before and during runs like I used to. It’s a bit liberating, to be honest. I don’t know if I’m 100% efficient (or even 50% efficient LOL), but it’s been working for me.
    Jenn recently posted…race report: wolfson children’s challenge ultra 55K relayMy Profile

  17. Toni says:

    These are great tips! I definitely need to focus more on my nutrition.

  18. Esther says:

    Those are great points!
    I need to get better about eating sooner after my workouts! I am not really hungry though so I kind of have to force myself.
    Thanks for sharing!

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