Have you ever notice that you’re hungrier after a winter workout than a summer workout? I ran 9 miles today with my running group and the temp was around 25°. Took a while for my body to warm up, but when it did, I was quite toasty until after the run when I quickly got chilled again.
When your body temperature drops, your appetite is stimulated. This happens because food provides the fuel needed to warm the body. Because of this, runners need to “feed the fire” before a winter workout and after. But you don’t want to put just anything in your body. Make sure your feeding that fire with quality food such as whole grains and protein-rich foods. Because whole grains are high in insoluble fiber, they stay with you longer. Ever get a hunger pang during a run? Not a good feeling. Protein-rich foods also provide you with energy, help you feel full longer, and help your muscles recover quicker after your workout.
So what should you eat before a run? This will vary from runner to runner. Some of my running friends eat a big breakfast before a long run while others eat just a slice of dry toast. Before my Saturday morning long runs, I usually eat a sliced and toasted whole wheat English muffin topped with peanut butter and some strawberry preserves. This gives me the energy I need for the run without feeling overstuffed. Sometimes I’ll eat a bowl of Quaker’s Weight Control Instant Oatmeal. Don’t let the name fool you. The reason it’s called “Weight Control” is because it contains 7 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber which is more than their regular oatmeal. This helps fill you up and keep you that way longer so you won’t feel like snacking. If you prepare it with skim milk you add even more protein. I also like to add some walnuts or almonds. If you’re training for a marathon or working out a lot, you may want to try “The Ultimate Power Breakfast” (Men’s Health Abs Guide; Rodale, Inc.; 2008). Probably not a good idea to eat right before a morning long run, but if you’re running or working out a little later in the day, eat up!
The Ultimate Power Breakfast
1 cup low-fat milk
¾ cup oatmeal
½ cup mixed berries
1 Tbsp chopped pecans or almonds
1 tsp vanilla whey-protein powder
1 tsp ground flaxseed
½ banana, sliced
1 Tbsp plain yogurt
In a microwavable bowl, beat the egg well, then add the milk, oatmeal, berries, pecans, whey powder, and flaxseed and nuke it for 2 minutes. Remove the bowl from the microwave and let the mixture cool for a minute or two. Top with the sliced banana and yogurt.
Makes 1 serving: 590 calories, 30 g protein, 80 g carb, 12 g fiber, 17g fat, 4 g sat fat, 193 mg sodium
Not into the whey-protein powder? Leave it out; you’ll still have a protein-rich breakfast. Want to decrease the fat a little? Try using nonfat plain Greek-style yogurt. FAGE and Oikos are two brands available at my local grocer and they are very tasty. They are thicker than regular yogurt and have more protein.