What I Eat In A Day To Fuel My Run

What I Eat In A Day To Fuel My Run

Whenever I see a reel titled “What I Eat in a Day To Fuel My Run,” the hairs on the back of my neck stand up! And I struggle to restrain myself from shouting at the screen, ‘No one cares!’ Or at least no one should care. 

But you see, this is where the problem lies. People do care. Some people look for shortcuts, hacks, easy wins or whatever you want to call it. They look at this type of reel and think, ‘I’m going to follow this fuelling strategy. After all, if it works for them (them usually being an influencer) then it will work for me too.’

If you are serious about your performance and how you fuel your training then what I, or anyone else, eats in a day is irrelevant to you! So why do so many people take these reels as a blueprint for their fuelling strategy? I’ll tell you why. Because it’s easy to copy someone you look up to and think that you too can achieve the same results if you eat as they do.

Portrait of young man drinking energy sports nutrition energy gel while sitting and resting after trail running on mountain peak

You are not them 

Just because someone shows you what they eat in a day does not mean they are doing it right. Nor does it mean they are experts on fuelling strategies. Often, the exact opposite is true. They have no formal training in nutrition and are the least qualified to advise others.  

They might be telling you what they eat in a day, but are they telling you the full story?

What you don’t know is:

  • What are they training for
  • How is their training going
  • Are they constantly getting injured
  • What are their energy levels like during training
  • What is their recovery like
  • Are they binge eating in the afternoons 
  • What is their mood like

Just seeing what someone eats in a day, isn’t enough information to build a solid fuelling plan for yourself. After all, we are all different and one fuelling plan does not fit all.

Your fuelling requirements are not the same as theirs

Copying what someone else is doing, is not going to get you the same results. 

Instead, it could hinder your performance, and leave you under-fuelled or injured!

If you want to achieve YOUR running goals, you need to consider what YOUR specific needs are. This can be hard to work out on your own. There is so much information out there. And it is becoming increasingly harder to distinguish between what is sensible advice and what is a whole load of garbage. You can safely assume that ‘What I eat in a day’ fits into the latter definition aka garbage.  

Finding reliable sources can be confusing and time-consuming. That’s why working with a nutritionist can be invaluable. 

Basic considerations for a successful fuelling plan

For a fuelling plan to be effective, it has to be simple, not confusing or overly complicated. There are some basic principles that a fuelling plan needs to tick off.

1. Eat enough

I cannot stress this enough. Forget about how much protein you need to eat or how many carbohydrates. If you are not eating enough in the first place, I guarantee you, you’re not eating enough protein or carbohydrates. How much is enough depends on a variety of factors, including:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Height/weight
  • Activity levels
  • Stress levels
  • General health
Closeup image of young caucasian female athlete drinking water from bottle after running by the sea.

So make sure you eat an adequate amount of food for you and your training needs.

2. Timing of fuel

Just eating enough is NOT enough. Come again you ask? Eating enough is the first step in fuelling your training. However, how you distribute your food intake around your training schedule also matters. The timing of your fuel will have a direct impact on your performance and recovery. 

Eating regularly is a good starting point. This ensures that your body has a steady inflow of energy. Big gaps between meals can leave you depleted. You should always think about what training you have today and in the coming days so you can fuel forward. That’s right, you need to eat well today to fuel tomorrow’s run. 

3. Don’t skip post run refuelling

It’s common to not feel hungry after a long training run or a race. Your appetite might be suppressed due to the strenuous exercise. But refuelling after a run is just as important as fuelling before and during your run. Your body needs the fuel to kickstart the recovery process. Without adequate food intake after your run, your body will lack the energy and the building blocks needed to repair your damaged muscles. It would hinder your recovery and the training adaptations.

Prep your post-run meal in advance so it is ready for when you get back. This way it’s there waiting for you. No thinking is needed, no delays in refuelling by having to prep your meal when you return. Just get in, eat, job done.

Not hungry? It doesn’t matter, EAT! Your body can’t repair and recover if it has no nutrients to do so. A small snack within 30 minutes of your run followed by a proper meal within 2 hours is a good recovery strategy. 

Think about your body as a vehicle for your performance. If you want your car to run efficiently, you put the best fuel into the tank. Your body is no different. The better quality fuel you put in, the better performance you’ll get out.

Young woman is resting and eating a healthy salad after a workout.

Do yourself a favour and stop watching pointless ‘What I eat in a day’ reels and instead tune in to your body’s needs.

Ask yourself:

  • Am I eating enough?
  • Am I timing my fuel correctly around my training?
  • Am I refuelling after my runs to aid recovery and adaptations?

You can’t treat these questions in isolation. If you answered NO to just one of these, fix it. For the best performance, a “YES” answer to all of these questions is not negotiable.

About the author: Zuzana is a sports nutritionist and ultra-runner. She supports athletes with their performance nutrition via On Track Nutritionist

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