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Kind Nutrition with Ellie // Sports Nutrition 101 for Running

Alimentation bienveillante avec Ellie // Nutrition sportive 101 pour la course à pied
- By Ellie Gauthier, nutritionist

Sports Nutrition 101 for Running

Do you run regularly and wonder what to eat before, during and after your runs? Are you training for longer outings and would like to take advantage of some basic tips? Do not look any further. Here I will go over some general principles of sports nutrition with you.

But before diving into the subject, let's take a closer look at why it is so important to talk about nutrition for an athlete. In fact, food is the fuel that sustains us during our training. Eating properly allows us to maintain a good level of energy every day (goodbye fatigue!), recover well, reduce the risk of injuries and stimulate our immune health. In addition, if your ambition is to progress towards longer and higher intensity outings, eating well becomes even more important. Please note that even if I will often refer to running, the principles that will be presented are for the most part also transposable to other sports. With that, let's go!

1. Who is this section for?
This sports nutrition section is intended to be rather general so that it can reach as many runners as possible. However, it is mainly aimed at more “serious” runners, who accumulate a certain volume of running per week and who have higher energy needs. Please note that the “average” runner who covers shorter distances can also benefit from pre, intra and post-race advice in order to optimize their energy level and digestive comfort during their outings. That being said, for advice more suited to your reality and your performance goals, do not hesitate to consult a nutritionist specializing in sports.

2. A healthy and balanced diet above all
Sports nutrition is like a pyramid where healthy daily eating forms the foundation. Before trying any supplement or sports nutrition strategy (meal timing , for example), runners should focus on the quality and variety of foods on their plate. A diet that is sufficient in terms of energy, rich in fruits and vegetables and in which there are good sources of protein, good sources of fat and starchy foods (including whole grains!) at each meal constitutes the winning formula. Added to this are sleep and healthy lifestyle habits, which contribute significantly to the runner's life balance. So, although they may seem miraculous, supplements on average increase performance by only 2%. You will excuse the play on words, but the proverb “ There is no point in running, you have to start in time ” takes on its full meaning here!
Benevolent diet and sports nutrition
3. What to eat before, during and after your race?
Do you consider you have a sufficient, healthy and balanced diet? So let's move on to the next step. To maintain a good energy level during your races, without compromising your digestive comfort, several strategies can help you.

Before : The important thing to remember is that the content of your pre-race snack or meal depends on the time you have left before exercise, and of course, your hunger and satiety signals . The less time you have left, the more you will have to rely on foods rich in carbohydrates. Foods richer in lipids, fiber and proteins take longer to digest and it is therefore preferable not to consume them directly before an outing. Another little tip: for your digestive comfort, try not to exceed your satiety limit, that is to say not to eat until you feel full/overfull. You will feel better and less bloated when you go out. The diagram and food examples below can guide you in your pre-race choices:
Pre-race food guide
Source: Vegan recipes for active people by Nicolas Leduc-Savard and Xavier Desharnais
Foods high in carbohydrates and foods high in protein
During : carbohydrates are our body's favorite fuel during exercise. For what? Because they produce energy more efficiently than fats or proteins. The types of carbohydrates that are most quickly assimilated are simple carbohydrates, found in fruit bars, candies, gels, etc. The longer the outing, the more you need to vary your carbohydrate sources and the more your need for this macronutrient increases. Below you will find the recommendations in terms of carbohydrates/hour. To give you an idea, 30 g of carbohydrates is usually equivalent to a gel, a sports fruit paste, 2 large dates and a banana. Be aware that tolerance to high-carbohydrate foods during a race varies from person to person. What works for one may not work for another.
Carbohydrate Consumption Recommendations Not Time

And proteins during exercise?
Since protein takes a little longer to digest than carbohydrates and you probably don't want to be doubled over in pain while running a half or marathon, consuming protein during such events is not a good idea. not necessary. For longer outings, such as long trail outings, a protein intake becomes necessary after 4 to 5 hours of running.

After : We sometimes hear about the 30-minute window after exercise, during which it is absolutely necessary to eat carbohydrates and proteins. Is this a myth? Really, it all depends on your training plans in the next 6-12 hours and the length/intensity of the run you just did. If your plans involve another workout or you have just run a long race at a high intensity, it is recommended to eat a snack combining a protein source and a carbohydrate source, in order to stimulate your muscle protein synthesis and replenish your glycogen reserves. These reserves are used to store carbohydrates in your body and provide you with energy when you are not eating. If you don't have any other workouts planned or your outing was rather short, your body can wait until the next meal. Obviously, if you are hungry, don't stop yourself from eating. We must not forget to stay connected to our hunger and satiety signals!

4. Running hydrated tastes much better
Eating is good, but eating AND hydrating is better. Adequate hydration helps regulate our body temperature during exercise, reduce the feeling of fatigue and facilitate the transport of nutrients to the muscles. The risk of consuming fast carbohydrates without drinking enough water during an event is as follows: the excessive concentration of carbohydrates in our digestive tract creates a call for water, thus causing what is called "runner's diarrhea". . So remember to hydrate well before, during and after your runs. On hotter days or very long outings, consuming a sports drink containing electrolytes (sodium, potassium) is recommended.

5. The athlete is also an intuitive eater
There is no point in calculating everything down to the gram: the important thing is to eat when you are hungry and have fun while eating, while remembering that your body needs to be well nourished to recover and support you during your outings. . The food portions indicated in this article can be adjusted according to your hunger and satiety signals and it is completely healthy to listen to your food desires. Do you want to eat pizza tonight? Do you love eating dessert? It's normal. These foods, when consumed occasionally, are part of a healthy and balanced diet. For more details on this subject, I invite you to take a look at my latest article which demystifies intuitive eating!

In summary, this section of sports nutrition 101 for running guides you towards a diet that will make you feel good every day and which will support you during your outings. Remember that sports nutrition is also about trial and error. What works for you may not work for your neighbor.

Are you still hungry? Here I share with you some reliable sources to satisfy your curiosity!
  1. The Nutrisportgo website (very well summarized tool designed at the School of Nutrition at Laval University, which describes what to eat before, during and after training)
  2. The book Vegan Recipes for Active People (written by sports nutritionist Nicolas Leduc-Savard and athlete Xavier Desharnais, which contains several interesting sections on sports nutrition and vegan recipes which are, in my opinion, completely delicious!)
  3. The Upika podcast with Nicolas Leduc-Savard, sports nutritionist
  4. Not out of the woods podcasts with Isabelle Morin, sports nutritionist
  5. Talk to me about health podcasts with Alexia de Macar, sports nutritionist
  6. The blog of Vanessa Daigle, nutritionist
See you in the next nutrition section!

Ellie :)