Hi there, my name is Callum Edwards (BSc, MSc, SENr) and I am the Founder & Director of I, IGOR, a nutrition company which specialises in nutrition plans for runners. Secondly, I am the Performance Nutritionist at Blackburn Rovers F.C.
Within this blog you will find some of my favourite tips & tricks which I use for professional sport teams and endurance athletes from around the world.
So with that being said, let’s get stuck into my top 5 nutrition tips to boost your running performance.
1. THE TRIFLE THEORY
What on earth is the trifle theory? Well, this is my very own theory which I have been using since I started my career in Performance Nutrition…weird but effective!
The Trifle theory is based around the concept of ‘food first’. If you have not heard about the ‘food first’ concept, then it essentially means that we should concentrate on what foods we actually consume, rather than supplements.
If you get this theory nailed, then you’ve done 90% of the work needed. That being said, supplements can be highly effective if used appropriately.
So where does the trifle part come in?
Well imagine you make a trifle for a dinner party. The actual trifle e.g. the sponge, cream, custard ummm custard, represents the foods we actually consume (our diet).
Supplements, can be represented as the cherry on top. Shiny, lucrative and a quick hit of the feel good factor.
The dessert needs both parts for it to be a hit with the dinner guests. But let’s be honest, without the spongey delight, the dessert would just be a…cherry, leaving your guests unsatisfied to say the least.
We should all concentrate on getting our diet correct first (the spongey delight), before we start thinking about supplements (shiny cherry).
2. THE POWER OF CARBS
You may have heard that carbohydrates are important for exercise.
Well, this is 100% true. But why?
When we consume food, it requires oxygen to liberate available energy (ATP) to be used within long lasting exercise (aerobic).
Carbohydrates use less oxygen to produce ATP, than fat. Meaning that they are the most efficient and available nutrient to consume for exercise.
But I thought I will run out of carbohydrates for long distance events?
Potentially, depending on what you have eaten the days prior and during the event.
A Marathon for example is entirely carbohydrate dependent. For longer events, fats will play a major role in energy provision. However, carbohydrates are still our bodies preferred energy source (due to its efficiency).
Lastly, we also know that DNF and poor running performance is strongly correlated with low carbohydrate intake during events.
Carbohydrates are needed to perform intense exercise at a high capacity. Low carbohydrate diets versus high carbohydrate diets, have repeatedly been shown to be worse for exercise performance.
Your diet should be at least 60% of carbohydrates. I will make sure I address carbohydrate recommendations in the next Live Q&A.
3. PROTEIN FOR ALL
As runners, we often feel that protein isn’t a priority and that would be a fair opinion. However, protein is absolutely essential for a few reasons.
The number one reason why I recommend a moderate protein intake for runners is to reduce muscle soreness.
The amino acids within protein are the primary nutrients behind muscle adaptation and recovery. If we have insufficient protein intake, we are at a high risk of reduced recovery and delayed onset muscle soreness.
This may lead to training days being missed and an increase in injury risk.
Protein foods I recommend are meats, fish, eggs, milks etc. Animal proteins have a rich amino acid profile. But do not panic if you are vegan/plant based, soya products often have a notable protein content, alongside oat milks and alternative dairy products.
How much? For runners 20-30g per meal every 3-4 hours
Protein is essential for growth and recovery. Your diet should be approximately 20-25% protein. Get eating it guys!
4. AVOID THE RUNNERS POOPS
Gut health is essential for any sport, or any human being for that fact. It is the epicentre of nutrient uptake e.g. vitamins, fibre etc. and it plays a vital role in immunity.
To avoid the runners poops i.e. stomach upset whilst running you need to address 2 principles: The type of foods you’re eating around your run and the times you are consuming them.
You should opt for foods low in fat, protein and fibre around and during your run. All three of these nutrients can cause stomach upset.
Why? Because these foods are very Low GI and thus take a long time to digest.
Secondly, If you are using gels or carbohydrate drinks then you need to gradually implement this into your training.
It may be useful to try carbohydrate drinks first, as they usually have lower carbohydrate concentration and thus are more tolerable. Sip often and take it easy.
Think about the foods you’re eating around and during exercise. Never underestimate your gut, it can make or break you!
5. POWER TO WEIGHT RATIO
What is power to weight ratio? Put simply, it is how much power you generate in respect to your body weight.
The tissue which produces the most amount of functional power is muscle. Thus, we want to ensure that our muscle to fat ratio is optimal.
Carrying excess fat when running, can reduce your running economy and drain your carbohydrate stores.
How do I improve this?
To lose fat you must be in a calorie deficit. This can be achieved via calorie counting, portion control and food swaps.
I often recommend to use a calorie counter for a few days to get an idea of what you need to consume. Then, reduce your portion sizes appropriately.
Improving your Power to Weight ratio is vital for efficient running economy. By losing body fat, you can entirely transform your performance, health & wellbeing. This is one of the primary reasons why I built the nutrition plans at I, IGOR.
Nutrition can be an entirely polarizing topic. It can be cumbersome to find evidence based advice, especially when it comes to athletic performance. The tips you see here, are entirely based off current scientific literature. Remember, concentrate on the trifle!
If you liked this blog please visit my website www.iigor.co.uk to look at nutrition plans, coaching, bespoke marathon plans (soon to be released) and much more! Also feel free to follow me on my Instagram @iigor_nutrition for more free tips & tricks.
I would like to say thank you to The Running Bible for this blog, and I’m looking forward to future work with the community.
Now here is the big question…
Is a trifle appropriate for a dinner party?
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