T Nation

Diet for distance running

Just want some ideas on what sort of diet a middle distance - long distance runner should follow? ie. carbs, protein etc. Also any good pre-race routines or drinks that you may recommend???

You realize that diets are found almost anywhere and everywhere. You could definately help yourself out on this one.

But, Im a very generous man, and follow a diet similar to your needs as my work demands similar foods.
50%/30%/20% C/P/F
Tons of low glycemic foods such as fruits, veggies, yams, oats, beans, long grain brown rice. lean protein sources such as 95%beef, turkey, chicken, tuna, albacore, egg whites, protein powders. Clean and healthy fats like fish oil, flax seeds, olive oil, and NUT BUTTERS (natural).

To figuere out how much of what? use this formula as it’s worked great for me 22xKG(lbw)+500=RMR, RMR x 1.5-1.9=AC, RMR x .10-.15=TEF! that’s the formula I use simply add the RMR+AC+TEF together and you get maintance. Don’t add in exercise calories.

Da Boxer

Well, I’m going to disagree with Da Boxer here.

An endurance athlete’s caloric and carbohydrate needs are extremely high. Now, depending on the intensity of your training (i.e. your level of muscle glycogen depletion), your carbohydrate needs will vary.

I don’t like to give out specific percentages, as I don’t think they’re applicable, as different individuals require drastically different caloric intakes.

For the endurance athlete, protein should be about 1.5g/kg of bodyweight. Carbohydrate should be around 7-8g/kg. Fat should then make up the remainder of kcals.

As far as carb sources, you need not stick to low or moderate glycemic sources. As a matter of fact, high glycemic sources will be more readily stored as muscle glycogen.

It is important to decipher the distinction between an endurance athlete and a bodybuilder. The former is constantly depleting intramuscular stores–both glycogen and triglycerides–and needs to restore them (quickly) to maintain performance.

As far as pre-race meals, my suggestion would be dependent on the intensity and duration of your event. Your goal with this meal would be to maximize glycogen storage and blood glucose, as carbohydrate is going to be the limiting substrate in performance. For long distances, you should probably shoot for a meal of about 200g or so of carbohydrate that is low in fiber. The meal should also be low in protein and fat to minimize GI discomfort and heaviness.

I strongly urge you to take in a post-workout drink like Surge or Endurox, that combines both protein and carbohydrate. Get at least 50g of carbohydrate immediately afterwards. Your goal thereafter would be to continue to consume carbohydrate at a rate of at least 50g for every two hours. Ultimately over the course of 24 hours, you should be getting in 600+ grams of CHO.

Carbs? Protein?

Yes, eat them.

Eat them all.

All that you come into contact with, that is…

Timbo, very interesting on the carb sources you recommend. That’s really the only issue in where you disagree with me. I guess the reason I stick to the low GI carb sources is because of my weight situation. I need to be a certain weight for fights where as a runner needs not to worry too much as long as performance is improving.

Da Boxer

I agree w/ timbo on this one… Higher on the carbs if you are a distance runnner.

Boxer Al- No, I think a runner has to worry about his weight quite a bit, especially a distance runner.

The point that Timbo’s making is that the carbs will be utilised easily in such a scenario, and won’t lead to weight gain (with adequate training stimulus). SRS

Right, SRS. The endurance athlete has very little to worry about when it comes to body composition. Most successful ones are already extremely lean.

Their primary necessity is to replace intramuscular stores–both glycogen and triglyceride–to sustain and increase training and performance.

The high GI sources are tried and true in replenishing muscle glycogen. The problem with most endurance athletes is not eating enough, as opposed to eating too much! By stressing the high GI sources, they’re able to maximize muscle glycogen stores.

Da Boxer, the other point that I stressed was protein intake. An endurance athlete requires at least 1.5g/kg (I didn’t stress the at least portion). I don’t think the endurance athlete–who’s not lifting–needs to be so obsessed with getting as much protein (as a bodybuilder does), and needs to focus more on getting enough carbs.

Got it. I completely see your point. It’s just so different from what everyone, readings, recommendations have been for me. When you say High GI carbs are you referring to pasta, breads, cereals, juices, fruits(banana, grapes)? Cause if you are, I already get plenty of these.

Da Boxer

Ditto on the advice not to each much fiber either the morning of or the night before a big run!

I too have found Surge to be a good recovery drink after a long run. It seems most effective when consumed immediately after finishing.

To elaborate on what Ike said…eating all protein and carb sources you come in contact with includes women and small children.

Boxer, those sources are just fine. Pretty much anything goes. However, I’d still advise athletes to get as much carbohydrate from those type of sources as possible–minimizing junky, refined carbs. However, the latter will be just find for replenishing muscle glycogen. It’s just that energy levels and dietary habits should be optimized for health also.

Again, Da Boxer, it’s important to distinguish endurance athletes from body composition athletes. So if your readings and recommendations stem from the latter sources, there should be no wonder why there’s a discrepancy.