Whether you’ve been a runner for decades, just a few years or just picked it up recently I’m sure you’ve come across one or more of these nutrition myths that I am discussing on the podcast today. 

In this episode, I am debunking the 5 most common nutrition myths that impact runners. You’ll hear why the myth isn’t rooted in truth and science plus tips on how you can improve your nutrition to boost performance in ways that refuel your body and allow for safe post-run recovery. 

What’s in this episode:

  • The 5 nutrition myths that are rampant in the running community
  • Why you might want a pre run snack sometimes but not always
  • What I encourage to pair with protein and how it helps with recovery
  • How one sole macronutrient isn’t the cause of weight gain
  • Why you shouldn’t strive for perfectionism
  • How there are no hard and fast rules about refueling 

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Resources Mentioned in This Episode

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Transcript for Episode 2 of Fueled for More

Hey runners, welcome to Fueled for More: a podcast where we help new and experienced runners alike improve their nutrition and fuel their bodies. I’m Starla, a dietitian, Olympic Trials marathoner and body and cultural diversity advocate. I believe in showing up for your run, for your life and for yourself at full capacity. And when you feel your body well, you set yourself up for success in your sport and beyond. Ready to run? Let’s go. 

Hey runners! Welcome back to the podcast. I’m so excited to be diving into today’s episode with you, and it’s going to be on five minutes that runners need to stop believing before I start diving into these five minutes. I want to lend you some self-compassion here because I think many, many of us have experienced believing these myths at some point or another in our running and nutrition journeys. Myself included. 10 years ago, I definitely probably was also believing a lot of these myths. So if you are somebody that is engaging in any of these minutes or really looking to unpack some of these, this episode is for you. So I’m really excited to dove in today and go through some of the facts from some of these myths and hopefully change some of your minds around some of the ways that you guys are feeling on your day to day training runs, your long runs, or just even some questions you may have that are really impacting your ability to go to the grocery store and buy a couple of things. 

So with myth number one. Many runners think that they don’t need a pre-run snack, so they believe they don’t need a pre-run snack. Not fast enough. Don’t run long enough. I run too early, so I don’t want to eat yet or I’m not hungry just yet. Or they do have a lot of fear around whether it’s going to make them go to the bathroom on a run or it’s going to hurt their stomach, or maybe even just trying, or maybe just not even know when to implement a snack. And so it’s kind of it’s more of a paralysis around it because of lack of information or education. So myth number one, you don’t need a pre-run snack. The facts around this myth are not a preference. Snack is a pretty effective way for us to receive glucose from a carbohydrate or quick energy. Our muscles need energy to do the exercise we wanted to do. And in this case, that’s to run. So we need energy to be able to run, explore, do all the fun stuff that we like to do during our run, be able to talk with our friends, all that fun stuff. And so the next question here that I get is, is a pre-run snack necessary all of the time? Well, not exactly. There is some gray area and some nuances as well around a pre run snack. And so it is encouraged to have a snack if you are running for about 45 to 60 minutes or longer. So that means easy runs. Recovery runs faster training days like tempos, track workouts for Alexa, et cetera, track days longer and days after that long or longer duration. You want to consider eating or drinking something. So this is not even include pace for an out looking at pace, we’re looking about the amount of time. So you are a 12 minute per mile runner and you are doing a 10 mile long run or even an eight mile long run. And you’re telling yourself that you shouldn’t have a pre-run snack because you’re not at 10 miles just yet. I want to encourage you to reconsider that. You probably want to start having something, especially if you’re already feeling a lack of energy. Same thing for other runners who may be at a faster pace or even more experienced. I know for even myself I can get a little lazier about my career on snack, and I I know I can do 10 miles without it, but I know I’m going to feel so much better whenever I actually incorporate that pre-run snack. So I want to encourage you to have a pre-run snack, especially if you are running 60 minutes or longer. Your rate is going to be less than that amount of time. So even less than 45 minutes will say you’re going for 30 20 minute run, then you may not necessarily not need a snack. You could probably get away without having a snack. However, if you are hungry, so whenever you wake up, if you’re one of those people that’s already hungry, you’re ready for something in your in your stomach. I want to encourage that. Maybe you do want to go ahead and have a snack because we do want to also honor our hunger. And we also want to be able to feel good and actually have a good time on a run. I know many times runners will tell me that they get really hungry on a run and then their stomach hurts, or they just get super hungry afterward. And so if that’s something that you are trying to work on, I’m going to encourage that. Even though you have a short run, maybe you do want to try and have a free run snack. I’m going to be doing another episode on the podcast that is going to be incorporating more information on pre-run future. So you want to stay tuned in on that one. So in a future episode, that’s we’re going to be covering a little bit more of the nitty gritty details of pre-run snacks and when to incorporate them and what of those options are. 

So, myth number two, many runners believe that protein is going to make them look bulky and pack on all of this muscle. That’s not necessarily how protein works. We may also think that it works that way because we associate people on Instagram, fitness influencers, people like that with selling a bunch of protein, and we automatically think that that’s what we’re going to look like. That’s not necessarily true. The facts on protein are protein helps our bodies recover and repair from the long runs, everyday training and heart effort days. Protein is also going to help our blood sugars stay nice and balanced, especially whenever we eat carbohydrates. I know carbohydrates need to be part of our everyday meals and snack time, so whenever we pair carbohydrates with protein, it helps keep blood sugars nice and balanced. Protein is also very necessary to help us stay full and satisfied. So if you feel like you’re just conflating but your carbs, I want to encourage you to pair that up with some protein that’s going to help you feel so much better and then you can bank me about it. And so this is exactly why whenever we pair source of protein like nut butter egg, a slice of cheese, etc. to, let’s say, some crackers, we feel so much better for a longer period of time, and it truly helps to solve those runner your hunger concerns that I get a lot of DMs about from you guys. So whenever you are putting in all of those miles, make sure to also give yourself a variety of foods on your plate to make sure you are eating enough protein. Mix number three Carbs cause weight gain. This is also a longtime myth that runners have about carbohydrates. We have a love-hate relationship with them. We love them. And then on the back end of our brain, a lot of people hate having to deal with carbohydrate, but I want to encourage that. Carbs are not the sole source of waking. One food product is also not the sole source of waking. Carbs can impact fluid retention or that bloating feeling that many runners may confuses waking, but it’s not the same thing as gaining fat. So there’s a big difference there. Carbohydrates are commonly thought of as the cause of waking because it’s also where most people struggle in regards to having enough willpower control and tend to find themselves bingeing on later parts of the day or in the evening. So if you’re somebody that is afraid of carbs, think that it causes weight gain. I want to encourage you to think about where do we learn it? Why do we think that carbs are the sole source of our waking issues? And what are some of the things that you tend to overeat or binge on whenever you try to restrict carbohydrates? So whenever you create your plate at meal times, add carbohydrates that’s going to help prevent the bingeing, but also make sure to have enough protein, vegetables and healthy fats to also help you feel your best. So hopefully this is helpful already and you’ve already gone through three meds. And so again, just your reentry and regroup number one. A lot of people think that you don’t need a parent snack. That’s not necessarily true. It depends. Myth number two protein makes renders of bulky. That’s also not true. Protein is going to help us rebuild and recover and maintain our lean body mass. It’s also going to help us feel more satiated and for from our all of our training. So we want to make sure that we include protein and it’s not going to make us bulky. It helps preserve our lean body mass myth number three. Carbs cause waking. That’s not necessarily true. There is no one sole source of weight gain, either. One food product does not cause weight gain. It can typically come from a lot of the habits from that food that we’re faring as well. So I want to encourage us as runners and as a community to really think about carbohydrates and how they’re being pushed out. And are we incorporating other things on the plate too? To help us manage how we are not only fueling our bodies on a day to day basis, but it can really influence and change the way that. Think about during food groups. 

So myth number four runners do tend to think that if I’m not feeling the right way, then I’m doing it all wrong. And so there’s this kind of perfection inside to all runners, and we want to do things just right that type a personality. I know I have it. I like to get everything right the first time. And when I do, I feel so good about it. But life does not work that way. Sometimes we’re going to have to try things several times to get it right or get the thing right for ourselves. So again, there is no one right way to feel for your run during or after. There’s not a perfect solution to feeling. The truth is that there are many different ways to fuel, and you have to find what works best for you. I’m going to tell you guys something, and it is that out of all of the runners that I have helped in the last almost two years of opening and starting to help me shine, help helped hundreds of runners at this point, and not one of them has the same nutrition plan that I helped them create. And none of them have the same feeling strategy. Some of them are similar, but there have been so many different variations, depending on the person and their preferences. So there is not one right way to do this thing. Many runners really want to know the exact amount of fuel and expect it to go right the first time, or they want the best granola bar to eat, or even be exact amount of carbohydrate to have after a run to refuel with. But some days, guys, your body will want different things, and some foods may not sit well. Or you might be having a really stressful day at work. And you may also forget to fuel with enough or something like that may pop up. Maybe your car broke down or something like that. Anyway, the grocery store couldn’t go because you had a meeting right afterward. Things pop up, so we want to learn how to be adaptable, and that’s going to be the key to fueling the the way that you need to. Given your circumstances and what’s available to you, how you respond is just as important to how you plan and prep for the week to understanding that there’s not just one right way helps you figure out what will be the best options for you. A way to do this, and the fuel for more program is to log what fuel plan you are it for specific types of runs and track how it went. Super simple, but it is probably the bread and butter of what we do on a daily basis together in huge more. We are looking at your behaviors, your preferences, your choices regularly to help you see what’s going to work well for you. 

Myth number five: I need to always refuel within an hour, finishing my runs. This one guy, I’m going to be very honest. This one took me a long time to really hash out in my notes because I wanted it to be as clear as possible for you all. So for a long time, we’ve heard that we need to be eating within an hour of completing a workout or run to be reaping the benefits of recovery. This is because we use glycogen in our muscles to give us glucose for energy. So after exercise, we want to replace what has been broken down and lost as soon as possible. Recent research has shown that if someone eats an adequate amount of nutrition throughout the day, then that hour window can widen. So we get a little bit more flexibility if we are no. One willing and open to refuel ASAP. Right? Or that we’re not going to skip a meal either, because that does tend to happen for many different reasons for a runner. So I want to be clear on this. If you are waiting more than an hour to eat, but then it turns into two hours, three hours, five hours. And by the time you know it’s past 12 and you still haven’t eaten from your morning long run and it’s already towards the middle of the afternoon, and then you’re like, Oh yeah, I’m eating. You just start back lugging all of your nutrition and it makes you feel uncomfortable. You start not feeling great in your body. You start to feel sick or second-guess your own nutrition. That’s where we probably want to start to rethink this, and we want to start implementing some recovery in nutrition. Like I said as soon as possible, because that’s going to help you feel so much better about your choices and you’re going to walk into the rest of the afternoon feeling like you can make intentional decisions versus just reacting because you’re so. And I know because this has also happened to me in the past, so I say this with a lot of love. Other examples of how this would work would be if someone does it run at 5:30 in the morning, they complete their run by 6:30 a.m. They drive home, they shower, they eat a breakfast at eight a.m. and that would include protein, carbon fiber. And then they continue with the rest of their meals and snacks throughout the day. And they eat enough to support training. It’s expected that they’ll have enough recovery nutrition and they’re going to reap the benefits of their nutrition. So you want to pay attention to appetite later on in the day cravings, how your how hungry are the next day as well to help you identify if having a snack or a meal sooner is something you want to start implementing. So again, there are some great area here, so I want to make it very clear that yes, you don’t have to exactly wait for we have something within an hour of finishing. So it’s two hours, but it’s a complete breakfast. Have a complete lunch, dinner, snacks, you’re good to go. You probably have very little things to worry about there. But if you’re somebody who is entirely skipping a whole meal or several meals in the day and then you backlog all your nutrition, you’re probably not going to be also great later on in the afternoon with your choices. Or even the next day, you may be very, very ravenous. So want to consider a couple things here? And just be honest with yourself, too, if any of these myth busting answers have provided clarity for you. And you would like some more practical ways to work on your nutrition, I want to encourage you to head over to my website www.thehealthyshine.com to the resources section and download the five step fueling process for additional help in this area. And don’t forget to subscribe and share with the training partner. As always, thank you. I’ll see you guys next week. Have a good one. Until next time, see you out on the trails. 

Thank you for listening to Fueled for More. Ready to jump? Start your nutrition? Download my free grocery guide for endurance athletes at thehealthyshine.com. And be sure to connect with me on Instagram at @starla_shines. Adios amigos. See you out on the trails.