Monday, August 24, 2009

What should half marathon runners eat? Recommended ratios of fat, carbohydrate and protein

I am getting serious about my nutrition because I have just committed to running a half marathon. I will be competing in the U.S. Marine Corps Half Marathon on Sunday, October 11, 2009 at Colonie Town Park.

Christine Luff of gives some basic diet information in the article, ‘Diet and Nutrition for Runners; Eat well for good health and running performance.’ Luff says that 60% carbohydrates, 20% protein, and 20% fats is a good balance for a long distance runner’s diet.

I have to keep a close eye on my calcium intake, which Luff says should be 1,000 mg per day. I take a 600 mg calcium pill, drinksoymilk and eat yogurt, cheese and cottage cheese.

I have never had a problem with my weight and I eat what I consider to be a very healthful, simple diet, so I never really looked at the foods I eat before today.

Here is my basic diet:

Breakfast –

1 glass water as I wake up, I am always so thirsty!

Breakfast smoothie:
1 cup water
½ cup frozen blueberries
½ scoop soy spirulina powder
½ apple
½ banana

½ cup slow cook oatmeal
½ cup blueberries
dash cinnamon

Mid Morning meal

Egg Whites
Cheddar Cheese
Whole Wheat Pita

2 Fish oil pills, one now and one at lunch
3 cups green tea or Echinacea tea throughout the day

Lunch – Indian food
½ cup brown rice
2/3 cup Palak Paneer (a half a package)
1/2 cup frozen vegetables
1 Oikos yogurt

¾ cup cottage cheese
½ cup pineapple

Second Snack
¼ cup almonds

Barilla Spaghetti
Vodka Sauce

Third Snack
1 cup vegetable juice

This daily food intake is 2110 calories, 88 grams of fat, 286 grams of carbohydrates, 34 grams of fiber and 120 grams of protein.

Fat: 1 gram = 9 Calories Protein: 1 gram = 4 Calories Carbohydrates: 1 gram = 4 Calories

According to Luff, my ideal diet should be: 60% carbohydrates, 20% protein, and 20% fats is a good balance for a long distance runner’s diet.

I entered all my foods in Antonio Zamora’s Macronutrient calculator and I am eating a diet that is 49 percent carbohydrates, 22 percent protein and 30 percent fat. My big “bad” fat intake is at lunch, with the cheese in the Palak Paneer and at dinner with the creamy Vodka sauce. I also have fat in my cheddar cheese on the egg pita. I will try to find a lower fat substitute for the prepared foods as well.

Other fats I consume are “good fats” – the avocado, flax seed, and almonds. I want to keep those.

I also need to add more vegetables into my diet. I do enjoy drinking vegetable juice, but do not enjoy plain steamed vegetables unless that have a sauce covering them. The American Cancer Society offers tips on getting 5 fruits and vegetables a day in the article, Fruits and Vegetables: Do You Get Enough?

I will lower the fat in my diet and see if eating a diet with the recommended ratios of fat, carbohydrate and protein improves my performance.

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