Bread, bagels, pasta, potatoes and pancakes – you just can’t get enough, right? Wrong, says sports nutritionist Nancy Clark.
Running 4-5km at an easy pace will burn 200 to 300 calories, an amount so modest that it doesn’t demand lumberjack portions of carbs (or anything else) before or after.
Clark advocates eating healthy foods throughout the day, and having a small snack an hour or two before you run.
“Exercisers shouldn’t skip meals early in the day or try to run on fumes,” she says. “But you don’t require special foods after a workout – just a snack that offers a few carbs and a little protein.”
Yes, runners sweat a lot. Yes, they need to consume water, sugar and electrolytes (ionised salts in blood, tissue and cells) when they run for 90 minutes or more, particularly in warm weather.But unless you’re training for a marathon, you don’t need sports drinks and an advanced hydration strategy.
Sip a little water before your workout and a little more after. And skip the extra calories in sweetened drinks.
“Beginner runners don’t need a sports drink, because they’re not running far enough,” notes Clark.
Runners, even beginners, tend to be driven, results-orientated people. When promised short-cuts, miracle cures and unbelievable benefits from supplement and ‘superfood’ manufacturers, they’re easily swayed. However, eating standard, simple, unprocessed natural foods will give you the same end results.
“Every time one of those vitamin or supplement studies produces a negative result, I am reassured that focusing on quality calories is the best advice,” says Clark. “I’ve always believed that the healthiest foods are the real foods – the quality vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean proteins packed with everything runners need.”
Sorry, but you won’t automatically drop five kilos just because you run, says Clark. You also have to reduce your daily food intake. Each kilometre that you run burns roughly 100 calories.
Cut a biscuit or two every day, and you can add another 100 calories to your weight-loss effort.
“Reducing calorie consumption by just 100 calories a day will theoretically give you a 4.5kg weight loss by the end of the year,” Clark says. “Drop 200 calories a day, and you’ll lose 9kg.” Clark suggests cutting calories by eating smaller portions and fewer fried foods.