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A food lover’s guide to training

Dining for success to achieve your fitness goals when preparing for a race

Deciding to lace up the running shoes and purposefully start training is great for the body and brain. It can also give motivation and purpose to shedding a few kilograms of unwanted baggage that has accumulated over the last six months of splendid meals, long hours in the office and regular business travel.

While the extra energy spent running helps trim the waistline, the amount of weight that is shed through exercise alone is often far less than expected. It’s important then to remember to eat like a champion, whether your goal is to lose weight or compete amongst the best. Just like running itself, eating for success requires planning, preparation and the best ingredients.

I deserve something special!

Exercise uses energy, mainly from fat and carbohydrate energy reserves, but surprisingly little. A typical 30-minute steady run will use about as much energy as a chocolate bar. Yet in a cruel twist of fate, running can leave you hungry. Maybe not immediately, but at some point in the day there may be unexpected hunger pains. The solution? Preparation.

Tip: Have healthy snacks such as some fresh fruits within easy reach.

It’s only training and a few late night drinks won’t hurt

Alertness and focus are critical factors in avoiding injury. A sleepy head is no fit state to run in the wild of the ‘burbs. Worse still are the affects of even modest alcohol intake with a few late night standard drinks leaving you dehydrated in the morning. Drinking before you start exercising can help, but this is only likely to partially replenish the total amount of fluid lost.

Tip: Avoid hard training after a late night. Take it easy and stay focused on the long, injury-free road ahead.

Refuel on the good stuff

It’s carbohydrates from the rich and varied grains, pasta, legumes and cereals found in an abundance of healthy foods that provide the vital energy required to restore the much needed muscle glycogen stores. The added benefits of a rich and varied source of carbohydrates are the ‘not so frequent topic of polite dinner table conversation’ – bowel movements. Dietary fibre is indeed a runner’s secret best friend.

Tip: Regularity is important in being prepared and can help you with nerves and unexpected surprises on big race days.

The good oil on training

A high carbohydrate diet lacks flavour and finesse without some oil. Vegetable oils including extra virgin olive oil bring out the best in salads and vegetables and add much needed flavour while aiding in the digestion and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and phytochemicals that help regulate inflammation and immune health.Throw into the mix nuts and fish, which in addition to being rich in protein also contain essential fatty acids that aid in tissue repair and recovery.

Tip: It’s a long road ahead so eat healthy and happily to stay on track, focused and dine for success.

(Images: fruit: Martin Cathrae; water glasses: Mr TinDC; pasta: Luca Nebuloni)

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