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Rules to Run By: Smart Eating Habits for Runners

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Fuel your running workout with these safe, sensible, and healthy diet principles.

Tips 1-3

If you're just kicking off a new running program, follow these five nutritional guidelines. They'll help you get the most out of your workout -- and your body.

1. Go for Lean and Green

Introducing a running regimen makes it more crucial to feed your body the heart-healthy foods routinely touted by nutritionists. Melinda Manore, the chair of the department of nutrition at Oregon State University, recommends centering your diet around whole grains, fish, lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy. These foods will meet your basic nutritional needs and will help your body recover after exercise.

2. Timing Is Everything

When it comes to fueling up for a workout, the when is just as important as the what. If you hit the pavement in the morning, you might not have time to down a big breakfast and digest it, but Manore suggests that you still need something light before exercising -- such as a piece of toast with peanut butter and a glass of water. "Follow up your run with a healthy breakfast of fruit and whole grains," she advises.

For runners who favor midday or afternoon jogs, the optimal time to eat is two hours before exercising. That way, by the time you begin, your body will have absorbed the energy from your food. Also, munching too close to your run can cause cramps. If you must have something before you head out, a small banana will give you a boost. However, be careful about consuming too much fiber right before you run, because exercise can stimulate your digestive tract.

3. Recovery Rules

It's common to lose your appetite after exercise, but new research shows that eating within 30 minutes of your run is essential for replenishing glycogen stores -- and helping your body recover. Soon after you finish your workout, eat a snack high in both protein and carbohydrates, such as a cup of yogurt with fruit, or an energy bar.

Next:  Tips 4-5


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