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Everyone Eat Like a Runner

Nutrition and exercise are inextricably linked, and the greater the exertion, the greater the need to focus on what you put in your body. Running, for example, is a highly aerobic activity that requires sound nutritional practice. Why focus on running? It is America’s most popular outdoor recreational activity. Some runners do daily short jogs in the neighborhood. Others vary their distances and speeds depending on how they feel both physically and mentally, or as part of a planned schedule. Still, others follow a strict training regime in preparation for a competition, either as part of a team or for an individual challenge. In all cases, what and how you eat on a daily basis, especially in training, have an impact on you both mentally and physically and, consequently, on how you perform and feel. What follows is not a focused nutritional plan, but rather a few general pieces of advice for how to avoid nutritional planning stress.

Take a Mindful Approach

Your mental approach to eating and exercise plays a significant role on your diet. Even as you plan for basic brain and body nourishment, if you worry excessively about eating you are defeating one running purpose: stress reduction. First, plan your diet around your habits, beliefs, and predilections. If you are vegan, now is not the time to choose protein loading via marbleized meats. Additionally, both your gut and brain will not take well to sudden dietary changes. At the same time, being a smart consumer helps you minimize worry; do not bounce from fad advice to fad advice. For example, in recent years a number of sites have propagated the notion that carbohydrates lead to extreme weight gain. While it is true that sugar and other highly refined carbohydrates provide only short-term energy boosts rather than nutritional benefits, whole grains and high-fiber carbohydrate foods are important. They are necessary for long-term energy release, brain function, and overall blood sugar regulation, creating building blocks for a good running regimen.

Start the Day With a Bite

Think first about breakfast. Some people believe that if you skip it you can add the calories later, maybe after a late-morning run, with no effect on your weight. Unfortunately, putting aside the first meal of the day makes your body shift to starvation mode; your metabolism slows and you burn fewer calories during the day. Worse yet, consistently skipping your morning nutrition blast can lead to a host of significant health issues, all of which are detrimental not only to your ability to maintain a running lifestyle but also to your general well being; of greatest concern, odds increase dramatically of dying from a heart attack.

Don’t Include Only Skinny Foods

The desire for heart-healthy eating has led some to actively avoid fats in the diet altogether. Fat is an important dietary component, and runners especially need to consume it in the right proportions. Fat contains essential calories, and while too many calories are harmful no matter the source, our body needs fat nutrients for specific functions and processes, including brain and hormonal ones. Your cells, hair, skin, and nails need fat to form and grow. Fats also contribute to metabolic health and mood stability. Runners who do not consumer fats face depreciating progress, burnout, and, ultimately, failure.

It is important that everyone, not just athletes, incorporate good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) into their diet. Look for nuts, seeds, olive oils, avocados, and another omega-3 fatty- acid-rich foods, which can increase blood flow to the muscles and promote healthy heart function. Most notably, intense exercise tends to deplete the stores of omega-3, which can create a heart-healthy contradiction for extreme runners.

Work Hard Eat Easy

Incorporate nutritional planning into your running lifestyle. However, even if you run hard do not go overboard thinking about the food you eat – too much consternation can only create a stressful mindset, which is contradictory to the positive aspects of exercise. Just follow a few guidelines and then follow through with what works best for you.

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