What is the biggest mistake runners make with nutrition?

Built into the culture of running is the idea than leaner and lighter is better. And, in fact, this is supported by the idea that moving a lighter object requires less energy than moving a heavier one. That said, many runners sabotage their training by under-eating and become fatigued and injured. Eating the right amount is critical to healthy and progressive running performance. If you are serious about running, you might want to consult a registered dietitian who specializes in sports nutrition to develop a tailored nutrition plan for your goals.
Lynn Grieger
Nutrition & Dietetics
I find that one of the most confusing aspects of nutrition for runners is carbohydrate: how much to eat, when to eat, and what type to eat. Carbohydrate is the primary fuel for both exercising muscles and our brain, and when carbohydrate stores run low, we feel fatigued both physically and mentally.

I encourage runners to think about fueling before they run, fueling during runs that last longer than one hour, and refueling after they finish running. Eat a meal or snack that contains easily digested carbohydrate 1-2 hours before you run: a mini bagel with a smear of peanut butter, or 6-8 ounces of yogurt, or a piece of fruit provide carbohydrate to fuel your run.

If you're running for longer than 60 minutes, refuel with carbohydrate during your run in the form of sports drinks, sports-specific foods such as gels, or easily digested 'real' foods such as fig newtons or pretzels. Current guidelines are to consume 25-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour of exercise.

After you finish running, eat a meal or snack that contains carbohydrate. A turkey sandwich on whole grain bread with a piece of fruit; a bean burrito with lots of vegetables; or a smoothie made with yogurt and fruit are some delicious examples.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.