Endurance building is prime requisite of any athlete, no matter a beginner or a pro. It’s been promoted from years that if one is willing to maintain the hardship to sustain the challenges of a long run, they should focus on a diet high in protein. Is it really wise to focus on a high protein diet? Evidences shows it is actually does not make any sense to shift on a high protein diet to build the endurance. The World Health Organization also believes that humans should receive only 10 percent of calories from the protein sources to be healthy.
Study on Kenyan runners proves that athletes don’t need to shift on a high protein diet to perform better. The runners participated in the study got only 10 percent of their calories from protein. This study also demonstrates that most of the caloric needs fulfilled by the carbohydrate intake i.e. 76.5 percent.
It seems to be a myth only to rely on a protein rich diet, instead of that any runner should focus on the balance of energy. Here the basic guidelines regarding the micro distribution seems to be the best way to remain consistent and powerful.
Carbs: Backbone of a runner’s diet
A runner’s plate should have 50-65% carbohydrates, 10-35% protein and 20-35% unsaturated fats(be careful only unsaturated fats). Around 3500 to 4000 calories burnt by a runner on an average per day on a big event. Eating a big breakfast before an event or while training, is like filling the tank with enough of fuel, to get ready for a long run. Runners also need to maintain the interval between the event and the timing of pre meal, to allow the meal to digest well. To run for 25 miles a week, 340 gms carbs are required by a runner weighing 150 pounds. If the running is on a higher mileage, adding up 3.5 grams for each pound will definitely do great.
Quality and quantity both matters
A high-fat, low-carb diet resulted in reduced time-trial power on an average of 12 watts, in a group of mountain bikers, found in a study by Polish researchers in 2014.
It’s not only about the quantity of carbs, but the quality of carbs also has equal significance in meals. It is true that some carbs have more valuable than others. As the bodily stores of glycogen are limited, runners, bikers needs to replenish the deficiency by consuming carbs during the run.
It is crucial to search the divergence between high and low-quality sources of carbohydrates. Whole grains and dairy, starchy vegetables, fruits are rich quality carbohydrate sources. Whereas grains like white bread, pasta(regular), white rice and sweets considered to be low in quality.
The Final Word
Any runner should follow some rule of thumb, proved to be the best for the bests in the world:
1. The ratio of carbs to protein should be 3:1 or 4:1.
2. Prefer high-quality carb sources.
3. Protein intake should be normal to moderate.
4. Low or no portions of low-quality carbs.