lady running

Nutrition tips for runners

This blog first appeared on Common Runners.

In this blog Katia will be giving you nutrition tips on how to nourish your body to support your running and which will also fit in with your busy family life.

With the lovely weather finally here, many of us are running more regularly and taking on race challenges. Fuelling yourself with a varied diet of nutrient-rich, whole foods is the ideal way to maintain your energy levels not just during training but throughout the day.

Quality & Quantity

A good quality diet will help you train better, recover faster and reduce the chances of injuries which is even more essential as we get older.

Essentially, this is a balanced diet of mainly fresh, unprocessed, unrefined whole foods which give you all the nutrients your body needs to function at its best. Processed foods with a long list of ingredients usually contain preservatives and additives which can be inflammatory, so the fewer the ingredients, the better!

Eating adequate amounts per meal is key since underfueling can lead to energy lows and prolonged recovery time.

For a simple guide to having a balanced meal, visualise your plate with 2-3 handfuls of vegetables, a palm size portion of protein-rich foods such as fish, chicken, eggs or legumes and a handful of complex carbohydrates such as wholegrain rice, pasta or bread. Don’t forget a small amount healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocado or olive oil.

Before Setting Off

Mornings can be hectic for many of us, making breakfast a rushed affair. However, starting your day with a mix of good fats, protein and complex carbohydrates is better for blood sugar control and maintaining your energy levels throughout the day.

If you don’t eat breakfast before a run you’re more likely to feel fatigued and this can increase your risk for injury.

One of my favourites is organic porridge topped with a tablespoon of nut butter, blueberries and a sprinkle of seeds. If you prefer savoury, try avocado or egg on sourdough toast with a side of vegetables like grilled tomatoes.

Ideally eat at least one hour prior to running to allow your food time to digest and to fuel your muscles which will help you feel stronger and more energised for your training.

Post-run Replenish & Repair

After a long run, your hunger cues can be suppressed. But this is exactly the time you should not rely on your gut feelings!

During prolonged exercise your muscles are subjected to stress and the muscle fibres develop micro tears. Refuelling your body with the right foods within 30 minutes after your run is so important as it will help you to recover faster.

Opt for foods high in protein and some carbohydrate – my regulars are hummus with pita bread or a boiled egg with a couple of rice cakes. You’ll find that, if you plan ahead so that your snack is ready when you get back from your run, it’s less likely that you’ll be reaching for those less nutritious, calorie-dense foods!

Carbs Are In!

For mainly weight-loss reasons we tend to limit or avoid carbohydrates but they are our bodies’ preferred fuel.

Your body can use fat and protein for energy too, but the process of converting either of those into energy is a lot more complex and takes much longer. Your body stores carbohydrates in your muscles and liver in the form of glycogen and these stores are depleted after around 60 min of exercise. Failing to adequately top up your stores by restricting carbohydrates can lead to fatigue and to uncontrollable cravings later in the day.

Have a Drink

It is important to stay hydrated throughout the day and not to have a large volume in one go as your body won’t retain all of it. 

I always recommend starting the day with a large glass of filtered water with lemon – this will ensure you’re well hydrated before your run. Pay attention to dehydration cues – besides a dry mouth, dry skin and fatigue are also signs that you need to top up.

Interestingly, thirst receptors in our brains start to lose their sensitivity as we get older so dehydration cues don’t register as effectively to let us know it’s time for a drink. So it’s essential, especially in this warmer weather, to keep a bottle with you wherever you go so that you can sip all day.

Staying Balanced…

It is important to understand how food fuels your body but it is equally important to maintain a balance between eating the foods you love and those that enhance your performance. So live your life to the full, enjoying your favourite treats in moderation. That way you’ll be a healthy and happy runner!

About Katia

Hi everyone! I was delighted when Caroline asked me to write a blog for Common Runners to share my knowledge on all things nutrition and pass on tips which are useful not only for runners but also their families. For those of you who haven’t met me, I absolutely love running outdoors but don’t get to do it as often as I should! I am a Nutritional Therapist and gut health expert helping high achieving women to optimise their diets and restore their health so that they can live their lives to the full.

Please follow me on @nutritionapplied or check out