Posted March 28, 2012 by sourced
By Matt Fitzgerald| Active.com
If you ate better, would you run better? Nutrition and diet can make a significant impact on athletic performance. However, there are exceptions–there are plenty of examples of runners who perform well, despite a poor diet.
Consider the case of Anthony “Fam” Famiglietti, who is currently one of the better middle-distance runners in America. Fam is a 2004 Olympian and three-time national champion who had his best year in 2006, improving his personal best times in three events. His diet is also very unhealthy. In an interview on the New York Road Runners website, Famiglietti described his diet as “all junk”. A segment about his eating habits entitled “Worst Diet Ever” is included in Fam’s self-produced DVD Run Like Hell .
The notion that Famiglietti might run even better if he changed his diet is not plausible. Thus, he is living proof that at least some runners can reach the highest level of the sport without eating by the book, or anything close to by the book.
However, every runner can’t get away with every bad nutrition habit. For most runners, a large variety of common nutrition errors result in consequences ranging from weight gain to injuries to poor performance. In other words, forgetting about Anthony Famiglietti, you might very well run better if you eat better.
In consideration of exceptional cases like that of Anthony Famiglietti and the more common cases of runners whose poor diets hold them back, my dietary advice to runners is this: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And if it is broke, fix it.
That is to say, if you are happy with your performance in workouts and races, your body weight, composition and your overall health, then continue to eat the way you’re eating (unless you feel like improving your diet just for kicks). But if you are experiencing any kind of problem with your running that may have a dietary cause, then do your best to identify and address the cause.
Applying my dietary advice for runners is a two-step process. Step one is monitoring. Step two is fixing.
There are three types of monitoring you can do to help determine whether something “broke” needs fixing. The first is maintaining a detailed training log. Recording the details of your workouts will enable you to objectively assess your fitness level and your body’s response to training. If your workout performances stagnate or decline without any apparent training-related cause (such as increasing your workload too quickly), then there could be a dietary issue at the root of it.
A second type of monitoring you should do is regular body composition assessment. Buy a body-fat scale that uses bioelectrical impedance to estimate body-fat percentage. These devices work just like bathroom scales (you step on them and get an instant readout), and they also measure body-weight. They don’t cost any more than regular body-weight scales, and they are widely available at department stores, pharmacies and sporting goods stores.
Use one of these devices to measure your body-weight and body-fat percentage once a week. Look out for any increase in body-fat percentage, whether it’s coupled with body-weight gain, steady body-weight or even body-fat loss.
No comments yet.