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Tips For A Runner's Diet

Updated on January 28, 2014
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Kate is a mother of two and a former registered nurse (RN). She has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Sonoma State University.

Beginning a running program or continuing to improve on mileage and time is a great way to improve cardiovascular health and energy levels. Running helps respiratory capacity and prevents both bone and muscle loss. Unfortunately, running is not a magic cure all for weight loss. Even with a regimented running program, losing weight will still require dedication. This includes your diet. Done right, your diet can assist you in losing weight or quickly gaining muscle.

Avoid Overeating

The calorie burning benefits of running are well known but many runners make the mistake of overestimating the amount of calories they burned during their workout. An extra serving of potatoes with dinner or dessert seems like small reward for the time spent pounding the pavement but those calories can quickly add up, negating the weight loss benefits of the run. Keeping a food journal can help determine whether extra calories are being consumed during run days.

Eat More Protein

Running expends a lot of energy. Proteins are fuel for the muscles and feeding them will improve running times and help reduce muscle soreness. Eating healthy proteins like eggs, nuts, beans, and meats will also reduce the urge to overeat. Suppressing hunger while feeding your muscles is essential to losing weight and improving running times.

Eat To Run

Though it may seem counterintuitive, eating can help weight loss and improve running. Fueling up for a run with an enriched carbohydrate for a short-term energy boost will improve run times and energy during the workout. Eating healthy fats and proteins will keep hunger at bay. Create a healthy diet that supplements the type of running program being used.

Eat Food

Too much of today's diet is centered around processed, chemically laden food. Simplifying the diet down to natural foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and meat can assist in weight loss and enhance running ability. Cut out or severely limit processed faux-food.


Running may burn calories but it also burns off water. Sweating is the sign of a tough workout but it's important to replenish that lost water throughout the day. Drinking a glass of water before and after a workout will prevent immediate dehydration. Drinking water throughout the day will keep hunger at bay and prevents heatstroke on sunny days. While every set of diet tips talks about the importance of hydration, for runners it's particularly important.

Eat During Long Runs

For any run exceeding an hour and a half, it's important to have a snack during the run. Energy reserves will be depleted during these long runs and refueling will improve the run and prevent hitting a wall. There are many gel refueling packs available specifically for runners but something as simple as a peanut butter sandwich or a banana can also provide the energy needed.

Running is an excellent aerobic workout that can lead to a healthy life. Following just a few tips to enhance weight loss and improve diet can make a world of difference.


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