Consistently nourishing your body with healthy food is the foundation of health; therefore, a healthy diet is the foundation of performance. Without nailing basic healthy eating habits, your labor is built on quicksand. In this article, healthy, good food simply means fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean meats and healthy fats. Meals serve as the main pillars of your nutritional foundation. Snacks are designed to bridge the gap between meals that are more than four hours apart or pre/post-workout.
Here are a few rules to chew on:
- Never skip breakfast; it sets the nutritional tone for the day.
- Include 20+ grams of protein at breakfast with whole grains and/or fruit.
- Carbs are essential for runners, so don't skimp on them, especially around a workout.
- Create a colorful plate at meals—think fruit and veggies.
- Lean meat or complete protein is essential for muscle repair, quality and strength.
- Fat-free is a thing of the past. Fat in and of itself will not lead to being fat. Aim for at least 1g of fat per kg of body weight/day.
- If dinner is three to four hours before bedtime, include a small bedtime snack, ideally dairy because of casein (slow-releasing) protein to support muscle anabolism, blood sugar stability and repair/recovery while you sleep.
- Reducing food intake to the point of low energy availability will lead to injury, illness, burnout and increased fat stores due to muscle breakdown and elevated cortisol levels. Ironically it results in the opposite outcome of the intended goal.