The Importance of Hydration and Proper Nutrition with Running and Exercise

When it comes to training, nothing is more important that fuelling your body properly. 

Cars run on gasoline. If the tank is empty, the car simply won't go. If you fill your car up and try to drive farther than that amount of fuel will let you, once again, your car will not go. This is the same principle that we're going to apply to the body and endurance exercises like running. 

The goal during prolonged running is to balance energy in and energy out. If you're exercising more than you regularly would, it may be necessary to increase your intake of energy in the form of food. It is important however, to refuel with the proper foods. 

Another goal of nutrition is to get all the nutrients necessary. picking the right foods pre and post workout is important to ensure that your body has everything it needs to recover following the work. 

We also want to minimize dehydration. Taking in liquids prior to, during and after a workout is crucial to maintain hydration. Your body runs perfectly when it is perfectly hydrated. Anything less than perfectly hydrated, you're body will be running sub par.  

 

As mentioned above, when completing a significant amount of training, we need to increase our energy intake.  This can be difficult at times, however it is SO important. 

There are consequences of not intaking enough energy such as: 

  • Loss of muscle mass (I know no one want's this to happen - working so hard to build muscle and yet you're losing it so quickly due to improper nutrition) 
  • Menstrual dysfunction (every organ in your body wants the perfect energy balance to work properly and this is just one example)
  • Lost or failure to gain bone mineral density (one of the greatest benefits of exercise is increase or maintenance of bone mineral density - this prevents fractures and allows our bone to be stronger longer, especially in later life - we should do everything we can to maximize on this!!) 
  • Risk of fatigue, injury, illness (the last thing anyone wants is to have an injury or illness that lays them up and prevents them from exercising or training, however when your body is weak secondary to poor nutrition, it simply can't fight off those pesky illnesses)

Ok so now you get it... you have to eat properly. But what to eat!? 

You wouldn't want to put Diesel in your Gasoline car.. so why put the wrong fuels in your body. 

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Carbohydrates

  • Used to maintain good blood sugar levels during activity (stored in the liver and muscles)
  • Endurance training increases the bodies ability to store these carbohydrates in the muscles 

-Carbohydrate requirements: 55% of total intake or 10g/kg of body weight/day 

 

Protein

  • Especially important for longer duration activity. 
  • As duration increases, percentage of energy coming from protein increases as carbohydrate stores start to become depleted
  • More important than a fuel source, protein is used to repair damaged muscles following exercise 

-Protein requirements: 

Adult: 0.8g/kg body weight/day 

Endurance Sport Athletes: 1.2 to 1.4g/kg of body weight/day 

Strength Sport Athletes: 1.6 to 1.7g/kg of body weight/day 

 

Fat

  • The body's largest store of potential energy
  • 70% of our energy at rest come from fat stores 
  • Muscles require fat as fuels during exercise
  • As duration of exercises increases, fat becomes the more predominant fuel source (short duration high intensity fuel is usually from carbohydrate stores)

-Requirements: Around 30% of daily energy intake

 

You can do the math based on your weight in kg to get a rough estimate of how much you should be eating of the 3 above mentioned categories. 

Daily fuel requirements will depend on many things and is unique for all individuals. Level of activity, amount of fat free mass or muscle that you carry, among many others will determine your suggested calorie intake 

If we take for example 2000kcal and 2500kcal for women and men respectively, one must keep in mind that our bodies work like simple math. If you are burning 2000kcal a day and eating 2000kcal a day you are running an equal equation. 

If you start thinking about how many calories you burn during activities, even a 5km run at a moderate pace can burn 300 calories in some individuals. When you start training for endurance events and really ramp up the amount of kilometers you're putting in, you need to ensure you keep with the basic math and keep your equation balanced by increase the amount of fuel or food that you are taking in. 

 

Hydration and Endurance Training 

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Hydration on a daily basis varies slightly however, one shoulder aim for about 3.7 litres (15 cups) for the average adult male and 2.7 litres (11 cups) for the average adult female. 

You body is very picky and likes things to stay stable. All the things going on in your body right now have an ideal working situation and they don't like to stray very far from their norm. If you start depleting their water sources and changing the concentrations in your body, things start to malfunction and that's when there are issues. 

In any situation that you would be loosing liquids at a faster pace than the norm, you need to start thinking about supplementing with additional water.  

Working out or training in warmer temperatures would require more water supplementation than more mild conditions due to the increased sweating rate. 

If you are running a fever or are ill, your body may require more fluids to keep the body balanced. 

Longer periods of activity will require more water than shorter periods of activity. 

Keep in mind that performance can be directly affected by poor hydration and nutrition for that matter. Stay hydrated and fuel your body with what it wants in order to train at your maximum potential! 

 

If you take 1 thing away from this post, I hope it's that you start thinking about what you are putting into your body. We want to be able to repair and recover well between exercise bouts in order to become faster and stronger. Take a long hard look at what you are eating and see if there needs to be improvements. Not seeing results in your training? Maybe you need to check the fuel source.