The Link Between Nutrition and Exercise Performance: Healthy Habits for Runners

Runners are required to be in great shape and in good health to ensure that they can tackle their targets and goals. However, numerous lifestyle factors play a part in determining whether or not an individual can meet the physical demands of running. One such factor is a runner’s eating patterns. In a Nutrients study on the dietary intake of recreational endurance runners, it’s seen that nutrition plays a significant role in the performance of runners.

When these athletes receive insufficient dietary intake, they may experience negative consequences for performance, such as diminished bone mineral density, immune function abnormalities, and muscle catabolism (where muscle mass is decreased).

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All that considered, this article will provide a more comprehensive look at the link between nutrition and exercise performance and offer tips on how runners can enhance their performance through healthy habits.

What is the relationship between nutrition and exercise performance?

According to the referenced Nutrients study, it is important for runners to attain their daily nutritional requirements. As it stands, individuals can find it difficult to navigate through high levels of physical stress—seen in the likes of muscle damage, inflammation, and soreness—caused by training and competitive activities. This is why the International Society of Sport Nutrition recommends adequate consumption of carbohydrates and protein—as these are essential in the management of physical pressure and during post-running recovery.

Nutrition and Exercise Performance

Apart from that, recent research shows that body composition can affect an athlete’s health and performance. Particularly, a 2022 Sporting Bounce feature titled, ‘When Looking After Your Body Composition Helps You to Run Faster’ shares that having a high fat mass is associated with a low running speed. This is because having an increased weight can not only slow down runners, it can likewise cause stress to the muscles, ligaments, and tendons. In light of this, a runner’s body should strike the right balance of muscle and fat to have a great exercise performance.

In the next section, this article will expound on the healthy habits that can help runners do just that.


Healthy habits that runners should adopt for improved exercise performance

1. Prioritize protein sources

Our post ‘Proper Nutrition for Runners’ points out that bodybuilders often pack on protein sources to build and repair muscles. However, protein is equally essential in physical activities such as running. After all, when running is done consistently, it can lead you to damage your muscles in small amounts. Typically, the extent of damage is dependent on how far and how fast you run, as well as personal factors like your weight. That said, it’s recommended that runners consume about 0.75 grams of protein per pound of body weight. On the other hand, those who weigh 150 pounds may want to up their intake to 112 grams of protein each day—especially if you’re interested in running long distances. By increasing your protein intake, you can ultimately bolster your performance and achieve your running goals.

2. Complement a balanced diet with a prescription weight-loss medication

Although a balanced diet ensures that your body receives the nutrients it needs to function and better withstand exercise training, it is sometimes not enough. According to a Frontiers article on endurance performance, genes can influence muscle fiber composition. When this happens, it can be difficult to prevent injuries while running. On the other hand, while managing your weight is beneficial in maintaining great exercise performance, it can similarly be impacted by your genetics. Thankfully, one recourse that runners can opt for is a medical weight loss solution. These FDA-approved medications consider your biology to bolster your efforts in keeping a healthy weight. Not only that, but these solutions also promote the consumption of nutrient-rich foods such as fruits and veggies for effective weight management. So on that note, get in touch with health experts that have credentials in medical weight loss. In doing so, you can understand how to incorporate prescription weight-loss medication into your routine and enhance your overall running performance.

3. Fuel your body with healthy carbs

Running necessitates great endurance, especially if you’re planning on participating in long-distance events. Luckily, fueling your body with complex carbs can equip you with the energy to sustain the activity. Case in point, a report published in the National Library of Medicine states that dietary carbohydrates can enhance your performance in endurance sports. Of course, be mindful of avoiding simple carbs that are found in bread, cereals, and pasta as they’re usually digested at a much quicker rate and can spike blood glucose levels. Instead, opt for healthy carb sources like beans, non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, and yogurt. These foods provide runners with the right amount of energy, fiber, and vitamins needed to sustain long runs.

Running is a physically demanding sport. As such, it is crucial to adopt healthy dietary habits that can ensure your body is up to par with your running pursuits.

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