A Diet Checklist for
Question: What is the proper
nutrition plan for long-distance runners?
Answer: Runners, like other athletes,
should eat a balanced diet containing all of the five food groups (grains,
fruits, vegetables, milk and meat).
Calories will vary depending on the sex,
size (weight) and activity level of the runner. Most long-distance runners will
need about 2,400-3,500 calories per day.
The most important nutrient though, is
carbohydrate. Carbohydrates provide your body with the proper fuel to sustain
long endurance events. Carbohydrate is stored in the body as glycogen.
Glycogen is then converted to glucose for
the body to use for energy while exercising.
Foods high in carbohydrate include grains
(rice, cereal, bread, crackers, noodles, etc.), fruit and fruit juice, dairy
products and some vegetables (corn, peas, potatoes, dried beans).
The diet of a long-distance runner should be
at least 60 percent carbohydrate, but some experts advocate up to 70 percent
This adds up to 350-450 grams of
carbohydrate per day for most runners.
Protein needs are also a little higher than
the RDA for long-distance runners. Protein is needed to help replenish glycogen
stores, as well as build and repair muscle tissue.
To figure out your protein needs, divide
your weight by 2.2 to convert it to kilograms. Most runners need at least 1-1.2
grams of protein per kilogram. The RDA is 0.8 gram/kg.
Finally, water and other fluids are
extremely important to keep you well-hydrated during your long runs.
Drink at least eight to 10 glasses of water
per day and also hydrate before, during and after you exercise.
Answer provided by Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD,
LD, Adjunct Instructor: Nutrition Sciences, College of Allied Health Sciences,
University of Cincinnati.
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