How to Fuel for Performance (Even if You Hate “Health Food”)

Strawberry Chia Energy Chews“We’re going on a diet!”

Was it really that time again already?

“I’m on a diet,” I tried to argue. “According to the dictionary, my diet is just the foods I eat, so…”

“You know what I mean.”

Somehow my brilliant logic had failed to convince my wife that my diet was fine the way it was.

“Besides,” she countered, “isn’t it about time you planned your training diet?”

She was right. With the off-season behind me, and the Amica Marathon coming up, I needed a plan.

Fueling for tomorrow, today

Most runners approach a big race with a training plan.

I always go in with two.

The first is a training plan designed to improve my physical conditioning. The second, a performance-optimized nutrition plan.

If you’re serious about your performance, you need to plan not only for what you expect to get out of your body. You also need to plan for what you are putting into it.

Think of it this way: you can’t expect to perform like an Indy car if you’re fueling like a jalopy.

But proper performance nutrition is about more than just what you consume on race day. If you really want peak performance you need to take the long view, just like you do with your running plan.

Practical nutrition for runners

You might expect that, at this point, I’d start throwing around science jargon like macro-nutrient ratios and glycogenolysis.

Not gonna happen.

Why? Well, for one thing, that stuff’s been done to death. For another, unless you’re a scientist, it simply isn’t useful information.

That said, I’m going to break my own rule just this once to say that when it comes to carbohydrates, fat, and protein, most runners have been grossly mislead.

We’ve been convinced that carbohydrates and fats are bad for us, and that protein is a magical salve for athletes.

That’s bunk.

As an endurance athlete, you need your calories to be as accessible as possible. That means a diet rich in carbohydrates and good fats. Protein is useful, sure, but there’s a fine line between getting a sufficient amount and overdoing it.

Most runners should aim for a diet made up of 60% carbohydrates, 25% good fats, and 15% protein.

Keep in mind that’s just the RRCA’s current guideline, and that any discussion of nutrition would be incomplete without saying that there’s no substitute for personal attention from a registered dietician.

Healthy doesn’t have to mean gross

As you plan your diet, keep in mind that not all nutrients are created equal.

The majority of your nutrition should come from natural, whole foods. The word “refined” is never your friend.

As Michael Pollan says, “If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.”

Now if the concept of whole food conjures up images of bland bran muffins and limp, lifeless salads, take heart. Just because food is healthy doesn’t mean it needs to be boring.

To prove the point, I’ve been hard at work compiling a collection of healthy meals and desserts for runners.

I call it “Running Recipes”. And you can check out a sample below (including an exclusive natural Strawberry Energy Chew recipe, similar to my Piña-Colada shot block replacement published previously).

Take a look.

The Running Recipes Launch Sale is on Now

This is just a small sample of the recipes that will be in the final book.

The full eBook contains 21 unique and delicious meals for breakfast, dinner, or dessert.

And, best of all, as a Midpack Runner reader, you can save 50% off the regular price between now and May 20th. Simply head to the Running Recipes website for more chia recipes for hungry runners.

Once the launch sale is over, you’ll never find this book at launch price ever again. You don’t want to miss it.

Enter your email below and you’ll receive an email reminder before the thank you sale ends. Make sure you don’t miss out on 50% off during launch week as my way of saying thank you.

Warning: Contents May be Delicious

We respect your email privacy

But, wait. There’s more.

I want to offer one lucky reader a chance to earn a free copy of the book when it’s complete.

All you need to do is leave me a comment with two pieces of info:

  1. What is your biggest struggle with training nutrition?
  2. And, what would make a good subtitle for the book?

There’s no right answer here, so let the creativity fly. I’ll choose a winner at random from eligible entries on Saturday, May 5th, and announce it in the next post.

  6 Responses to How to Fuel for Performance (Even if You Hate “Health Food”)
  1. Maggie Small

    My biggest struggle with training nutrition is allergies. Wheat and dairy are the biggest.
    Subtitle-Charging ahead with energy

  2. Lydia Shell

    My biggest struggle with training is consuming enough food to sustain my training.

    Subtitle – Food for the Sole : )

  3. My biggest struggle is probably not coming home from a long run and just eating anything and everything in the kitchen. Maintaining a reasonable post-run diet.

    Titles: How about, ‘Eat Better, Run Better’

  4. jon

    My biggest struggle with nutrition is pacing myself throughout the day. I usually start the day in a rush and don’t feel hungry, finally force myself to eat something midmorning, cram some lunch in late afternoon, then have a way too large of dinner after my evening run. I know that smaller and more frequent is good, but I just can’t seem to get it dialed!

    Subtitle idea: High Octane Foods For Those On The Run.

  5. Chantal

    My biggest struggle is preparing in advance so if I am getting my run in after work, I have things with me to properly fuel as opposed to having to rely on the snacks at work.

    Subtitle: Nutrition to help you perform like a race car, not a jalopy.

  6. Kris

    My biggest problem is that I work FT, go to nursing school FT, have 4 dogs and am training for a marathon so my time is precious. I need quick, easy things to eat that I can make a head of time and stick in the freezer. I find I don’t snack enough and when I do it’s because I’m starving and make bad choices.

    I also find that there are so many websites/books that give proportions (ie 4:1 carb:protein ratio) but I don’t know what that actually means. I need specific examples :)

    I want to rock my 1st marathon and I have the running plan in place, now I need a good nutrition plan!

    Subtitle: the nutritional way to hurdle that wall

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