Nutrition is fundamental when preparing and caring for our body before and after a training session.
Before facing or finishing a training session, we usually think about how to prepare our body so that it does not suffer the physical consequences of exercise. Stretching, gentle stretches to relax the muscles and avoid overloading… But we almost never think that there is another type of care that also influences the preparation and recovery. And that is none other than nutritional care.
Running enthusiasts are well aware of the demands of this sport and the physical and mental exhaustion that can occur if you do not arrive in good condition for training and competitions. That is why, if possible, taking care of our diet before and after running is even more important.
It is neither good to overdo it nor to underdo it. That is why we offer you some basic guidelines on what foods to eat and when it is best to eat them in order to get the most out of our physical capabilities.
Before going for a run
The first and most important thing to know is that we should never go out for a run without having eaten some food beforehand. If we do, it is likely that symptoms such as fatigue or weakness in the legs will appear quickly, preventing us from continuing with our training.
Similarly, it is not good to start our workout after having eaten a real binge. We must fill our ‘tank’ but in the right measure. Where is the middle ground? It is not the same for everyone, but surely you will gradually get to know your body and end up adapting to its needs. Even so, to begin with, it is recommended to ingest slow-absorption carbohydrates that provide between 150 and 200 calories, always depending on your body weight.
When digested, these biomolecules provide glucose to the body, the energy source of the cells, so any type of pasta, rice, legumes, whole grains and even potatoes, as long as they are consumed chopped or mashed, are the best fuel for our body.
During the race
There are many runners who prefer to skip this step, but if we are going to do a long training session or face a long distance race, it is not superfluous to also think about the possibility of stocking up in the middle of the exercise. This is where fast-absorbing carbohydrates come into play. These can be found, for example, in cereal bars, which are easy to carry with us to avoid possible fainting.
In recent times, a large number of studies are leaning more towards the ingestion of energy gels because they have lower amounts of sugar. These are supplements with a high content of simple carbohydrates whose main objective is to provide us with energy quickly. But their use requires several things to be taken into account:
- They should never be used in short workouts. The glycogen stored in our muscles begins to deplete 90 minutes after starting to run at a high pace, so replenishing carbohydrates before that time is unnecessary.
- They can cause stomach discomfort in sensitive runners, so it is advisable to try them before race day to avoid scares and always accompanied by water.
After the race
It is highly recommended to eat fruits such as bananas (which is also very effective during training), grapes, grapefruit or apples, either natural or in a smoothie. Dried fruits such as walnuts, raisins or almonds are also allowed, and yes, after running it is not a bad idea to treat yourself to chocolate, always in the right measure, of course. All this will help the muscle in its recovery.
Also, don’t forget about fluids. Drinking plenty of water or carbohydrate-rich drinks will help us hydrate, recover the mineral salts lost through sweat and cleanse the body of the waste generated by exercise.
Finally, we talk about proteins. They are also essential during training periods, but as they tend to take a long time to digest, it is better to eat them after running than before. Chicken, turkey, red meat, eggs, fish and dairy products should never be missing from the shopping basket of a good runner. But above all, stay away from fats. After training our body tends to digest proteins and carbohydrates and fats delay their digestion spoiling all our previous work.