Fuelling up

  • Health
  • Sunday, 18 May 2003

Running Solutions – Keeping the body in shape to face the challenges of running. 

YOU don’t really need a special diet to start running; you just need a normal balanced diet. Many runners choose to load up on carbohydrates the night before a big race, with foods such as pasta, potatoes or bread. I know some who even eat chocolate during a run. 

During prolonged running, you can lose one to two litres of water per hour, so it is essential to drink extra water during your run. The general rule is that if you feel thirsty, then you are already dehydrated, so avoid this by drinking regularly. 

Everyone knows that exercise has many healthy benefits. As you become fitter, your heart rate slows, your lungs become more efficient and circulation improves.  

The recent interest in fitness and health has made more people care about what they eat. But for professional athletes and dedicated fitness followers, the quality and quantity of their food can enhance performance, help maintain fitness and avoid injuries. Being in top shape nutritionally can mean all the difference being fit and unfit. 

Highcarb eating 

A high-carbohydrate diet based on rice, bread, noodles and potatoes is presently the food of ultra-fit sportspersons. For endurance and stamina, it is essential to keep the glycogen stores full and to replenish them, especially after strenuous running. 

The usual ideal running diet is one that supplies some 40-45% of calories from carbohydrate. Foods like breakfast cereals, oats, bread, rice, noodles, pasta, vegetables and fruits should be the basis of your eating as they are nutritious, filling and low in fat. 


The most important nutrition principle for a sportsperson is fluid, fluid and more fluid! Runners who lose a lot of body fluid risk not only limiting their performance, but also overheating, dehydration and heatstroke.  

Fluid before, during and after running is essential for perspiration, especially in hot weather as in Malaysia. 

Thirst is not a reliable guide to how much fluid your body needs, so you should drink cool – not icy-cold – water or sports drinks past the point of quenching your thirst. 

Which drink? 

Water is undoubtedly the ideal drink, but today’s sports drinks offer additional benefits for endurance runners. Most sports drinks contain only 5-7% glucose or sugar while soft drinks, cordial and fruit juice carry 8-12 % sugars. 

Salt and sweat 

Many trainers and fitness followers have long believed that extra salt is required to replace the sodium lost in sweat to prevent cramps. This view is out of date and with the amount of salt intake the average Malaysian consumes ? it would have contained enough to replenish any loss! 

However, for marathon runners and ultra-endurance athletes, this is one group of sports people who may become salt-depleted. If they drink plain water without any extra sodium, they run the risk of over-diluting their body sodium. A sports drink with electrolytes is the best answer here 


Traditionally it was believed that because muscles are made of protein, extra protein would build bigger, stronger muscles. Today it is recognised that most sportspeople can easily obtain all the protein they need from their regular meals. 

Protein powders and shakes are not necessary. Too high a protein intake usually carry additional fat and cholesterol and can burden the kidney, which has the job of removing the nitrogen from broken down protein. And, if not turned into muscle or burned as energy, extra protein will be stored as fat! So a word of caution to those on a “High Protein, No Carbohydrate Diet.”  

What to eat before you run 

Avoid eating too soon and too much before you run because the blood supply is diverted to the digestive system rather than being available for muscle activity. 

Aim for some light carbohydrate, a little protein, little fat and fluids. For example, consider a sandwich with light cheese or a pau or a bun with filling and a fruit or yogurt. 

If you decide to run two hours after breakfast, then maybe a fruit juice, a bowl of oats /cereals with low fat milk.  


Supplements and ergogenic aids 

There is no magic supplement that could promote speed or strength or larger muscle size! Like herbal remedies, the true value of any such ergogenic aids is often difficult to verify through research. 

Given the sheer amount of food consumed by a runner in training or for pure physical fitness, a balanced diet can provide all the vitamins and minerals needed. 

  • This article is courtesy of Nike Malaysia. Nike Wear Test sessions are now being conducted to allow the public to test Nike’s latest running footwear. Test sessions for next week will be on May 19 at Kampung Pandan Sports Centre from 5pm to 8pm; May 21 at KLCC from 5pm to 8pm; May 23 at Bukit Kiara from 5pm to 8pm; May 24 at Tasik Permaisuri from 5am to 8am; May 25 at Bukit Aman from 5am to 8am. 

    Be part of Nike Personal Best Network today. Log on to www.nikerunningsea.com and find out what best suits your running lifestyle. 

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