When I began working on weight loss, the first step was like a budget makeover: take stock, trim out the excess spending, look for areas to save. I lost fifty pounds, so by the time I started running six months later, I thought I was doing pretty well with my eating habits. However, nutrition around workouts was a weakness. I skimped on food before and after exercise, hoping to save calories, and reluctant to eat what I’d just burned off.
Years later, I better understand that eating well beforehand gives you more energy to put in a good effort in the first place. Refueling properly during a long workout helps you keep going. Eating properly afterwards helps your body quickly replenish lost fuel, stop muscle breakdown, and start the recovery process. Yes, it might add up to the calories burned during the workout, but the numbers at the end of the day will balance out (especially since you won’t be making food choices while starving hungry!).
So, want to eat healthy, feel better and fuel your workouts? There are many books in our collection on sports and nutrition. Here are some to get you started:
Performance Nutrition for Runners by Matt Fitzgerald
This is a great place to start. Fitzgerald covers the basic principles of nutrition and hydration for athletes in layman’s terms. He goes over pre-workout and post workout meals, nutrition around races and long/intense workouts, as well as a daily eating plan. He compares sports drinks side by side and discusses different supplements (the good, the “maybe works” and the useless). The final chapter covers special dietary needs for kids, older adults, diabetics and those seeking weight loss or vegetarian options. One thing to note is that he is largely a traditionalist on sports nutrition, so low-carb and paleo options are not really explored here. While he gives some meal suggestions and lists good foods, this is not a cookbook.
Racing Weight Cookbook by Matt Fitzgerald
This is the cookbook companion to the more informational “Racing Weight” and “Racing Weight Quick Start.” There are some basic nutrition principles in the opening of this book, and recipes to follow. I particularly like the categories: “I don’t cook!” ”Athletes with some cooking experience,” and “Athletes who love to cook.” Continue reading