Nutrition Rules for New Runners

When you first start out on your running journey, there is no need to make radical changes to your diet. 

But as your training increases, it will place additional nutritional demands on your body and there will be changes you need to make. Fuelling your body with a nutritious and balanced diet to provide it with all the essential nutrients it requires will help you to perform at your best.

When you exercise, the muscles you use rely on stored energy, and the two main fuels the body has stored are carbohydrate and fat. The body’s reserves of carbohydrate (glycogen in the muscles) are limited, but the body’s reserves of fat are less limited. When you become tired it is usually to do with the depletion of the glycogen reserves in the muscles.

Carbohydrate is the most important fuel for an active person. To maintain your energy you need to keep your glycogen stores topped up each day. The best way to do this is to have a low-fat, high-carbohydrate snack or light meal two to three hours before exercise, which will give your stomach time to empty before physical activity. 

Start refuelling your energy stores as soon as you have finished exercising. How much refuelling you need will depend on the length of time you have been exercising.

It is really important to drink before, during and after exercise. Waiting until you are thirsty is not advisable, as you will be dehydrated by then.

For most active people, selecting a wide variety of foods from each of the five major foods groups as per the Balance of Good Health will ensure an adequate consumption of all the essential nutrients required by the body. 

There is no evidence that additional vitamins and minerals will improve performance.