Friday, February 17, 2012

Food and Running

Sport and processed food items often seem to go together. That is, people seem to think that if you do some sport you have to eat some sports products and food additives. This is strange since I don't think sugar and sports drinks would be considered healthy. Food items like "protein bars" is processed food and ordinary people do not know what it is made of. It is a good rule not to eat anything you don't know what is. Then, why would you consume something unhealthy when you are trying to live a healthy life?
There are no shortcuts. I am not saying it doesn't matter how, what and when you eat. It isn't very clever to go out for a run immediately after a huge meal. It is better to wait for a couple of hours. And if you are on the road for a long time you need some easily accessible energy. Too many fibers can get in the way and chewing takes time which means that drinking something with a lot of sugar kan be helpful on long runs. And that's it. The only situation a sports drink is a good choice is on runs longer than 10 km.
If you think you need protein there are lots of ordinary food items that are higher in protein than the "protein bars" you can buy at the gym. Meat, milk, fish and other ordinary food items are excellent. An apple and a glass of milk after exercise can get you far.
Everyone needs food from the six major classes of nutrients: carbohydrates, fats, minerals, protein, vitamins, and water. Varied diet is the best.
I like the model where you compare the body to a car. Then the fuel would be the carbohydrates, the protein is the building material and the oil or fat makes everything move smoothly. Athletes sometimes tend to focus too much on the carbohydrates during training and the proteins after the training. They try to keep the calories down by not consuming fat. An auto mechanic would never dream of driving his car without the oil or lubricants on the engine. It isn't enough to have gas in the tank. I am sure the same counts for our bodies.
The fat we consume keeps the joints working as they should, which means the fat can prevent injuries. Your body needs fuel and raw materials from carbohydrates, fats and proteins to keep your brain and body going throughout the day. Dietary supplements aren't necessary if you eat varied food and avoid sugar. Except maybe fish oil for the D-vitamin.
If you want to lose weight it doesn't help just to cut off the fat. You have to eat less. Or exercise much more. And eat more fibers. Prepared food often contain very little fiber which is one of the reasons it is far better for you to make the food from the scratch than buying boxes and bottles with some unrecognizable substance inside. Ordinary healthy food is the best for all of us, runners included.

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