While many runners keep meticulous stats on their runs from week to week, may overlook the importance of how their diet may impact their performance. Keeping a food log or food diary can provide many benefits and much insight for runners of all levels.
How Runners Can Benefit From Keeping a Food Log
Keeping a food diary can be a simple yet very telling look into your own diet, run performance, and weight goals. Your diary does not have to be complicated. A simple pen and paper notebook will work however, I prefer the ease and accuracy of an app like My Fitness Pal. The apps will break down and analyze your information for you.
What should you track?
To get a truly accurate picture of your current overall diet, it is important to track all of your meals and snacks over a period of time. This includes paying attention to portion sizes and hydration. Yes, this includes that Friday night beer and pizza or that bowl of ice cream. Your food log won’t judge but it will give you some often surprising information.
What and how much are you really eating?
A food log can give you exact information on what and how much you are really eating. Many runners are surprised to learn they are way over or under eating to achieve their goals. Training at higher levels often requires the need for more protein.
Identify shortfalls in your diet
Are you taking in enough protein and fat to sustain your workouts? Using an app will show you any potential shortfalls with particular micronutrients and vitamins. Sodium and fiber levels are often surprising to note.
Timing of meals
Everybody is different and learning how your body reacts to food is a key to improving your running. Do you do better eating or not eating before you run? If you are a runner who loses steam at the end of a long run, your food log can provide actionable information.
Sensitivity to certain foods
You may notice a pattern of foods that upset your stomach. (ex gluten or dairy) Conversely, you may realize that eating other foods make you feel like you could run forever,
Pay attention to hydration
Adding hydration to your food diary can also be very helpful for many runners. This can also help you determine your sweat rate with vigorous exercise,
These are just a few of the many ways that keeping a food log can help runners to improve their running. Sleep, hydration, and nutrition all play an important role in running success. Figuring out which foods help and or hurt your performance can be very impactful in your overall running achievements.
Looking for some individualized help? I currently have a few openings in my one on one nutrition coaching program. Feel free to reach out with questions.
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