Once you start running (or jogging), your body will need extra fuel for those miles; you will be burning approximately an extra 100 calories for each mile you run. In addition, your muscles will need protein to keep them operating efficiently.

When embarking on a new nutrition and fitness journey, seek the assistance of a registered dietitian, or other qualified health professional, to devise an appropriate meal plan to ensure success.

Requirements for carbohydrate, protein, fat and vitamins and minerals stated below are an estimate; your body’s actual requirements can be computed with the help of a health professional for optimal results.

Here is a quick guide of the foods you should be eating as a new runner:

• Complex carbohydrates provide slow and steady fuel. Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits and starchy vegetables contain fiber, which helps to control sharp blood sugar spikes and lows which prevents you from feeling depleted before the end of a run.

• Protein is essential for both tendon and muscle repair. The more often you run and the further distance you cover, the more repair work there will be for your muscles. A good range is about 1.2-1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (which varies from person to person). Your protein should be high quality and lean, such as chicken, lean beef, pork, eggs, nuts and fish.

• Fats — Monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, flax seed oil, canola oil and avocados are the healthiest fats to consume. Monounsaturated fats have been linked to a decrease in heart disease and stroke. Runners should try to obtain fat calories from these healthier fats and oils than from unhealthy options such as lard or deep-fried foods.

• Balanced meals for runners should comprise roughly ~15-20 percent fats, ~50-60 percent complex carbohydrates and ~20-25 percent protein. Ensure you consume plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats in moderation and lean protein sources.

• Water consumption is essential for everyone, but even more so for the runner who is going to sweat more than average.

A good rule of thumb is to aim for at least two liters, or eight cups, per day. Sugar-free water enhancers, sports drinks and fruit juices, can be counted as fluids, but be warned that caffeine and alcohol do not, as these will dehydrate you.

Water should be consumed evenly throughout the day to keep fluid levels up and your body evenly hydrated. Most runners tend to be dehydrated.

• Vitamins and minerals will play an important factor in your running performance and endurance. Your extra energy requirements will also mean that you will possibly require additional vitamins and minerals.

Ideally, these should be provided from a healthy and well balanced diet of fresh and whole foods. A basic multivitamin can be used to bridge the gap between daily intake and requirements.

Carey Stites is a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and a Registered Dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition. Carey is currently the Registered Dietitian working with Wellstone in Harker Heights. Contact her at carey.stites@smchh.org.

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