The Boston Marathon is over and we hope that you are proud of your efforts! You have spent many months preparing for this race both physically and mentally; it’s common to come to the end of the race and wonder what’s next. Many runners worry about how to adjust their eating plan. Here is a short guide on adjusting your eating after training.
Assess your weight and define your goals
Before adjusting your eating plan, assess your current weight. Did you lose, gain, or maintain your weight during training? Then, determine if you need to adjust or maintain your post-race weight.
Listen to your body
Your body is very good at adjusting your food intake for training. That is, as you increase your training, you are hungrier and as you decrease your training you feel less hungry. Therefore, within the week after the big race, your appetite should decrease. This is your body telling you to eat less.
Writing down what you eat for 3-5 days can be helpful to see when, where, and how much you are eating. Even better, record how hungry you were before and after you ate. This can help you understand if you are eating enough to prevent hunger, or perhaps you’re just eating out of habit. Food logs will show you where the best places are to cut back, or perhaps identify meals in which you aren’t eating enough.
Eat throughout the day
The best way to manage hunger and maintain energy throughout the day is to fuel your body on a regular schedule. People generally get hungry about every 4 hours, so try to plan meals or snacks at least every four hours.For example, breakfast at 7am, lunch at 11am, 2nd lunch (or snack) at 3p, and dinner at 7p. For some it may work better to break this up into more, smaller meals in 3 hours blocks, so find what works for you.
Not eating enough at breakfast, lunch, or second lunch can lead to overeating at dinner. However, since you’re exercising less than you were during training, your body may be satisfied with smaller portion sizes at each meal. But, don’t skip meals! For example, instead of eating a large bagel with peanut butter, a banana, and a large glass of orange juice at breakfast, morning runners maybe only need 2 pieces of toast with peanut butter, half a banana, and a small glass of orange juice (or just water). Pay attention to when you feel full – your appetite is a good gauge for how much you need to eat.
If your goal is to lose weight, fuel your body throughout the day and chip off 100-200 calories each evening. You can achieve this by eating a smaller dinner, choosing fruit for dessert instead of ice cream, or choosing to drink water instead of wine or beer. Eat a mix of carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats at each meal. Choose fiber rich carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to keep you feeling fuller, longer. Protein and fat also help slow digestion, adding to a feeling of satiety.
Make an appointment with a registered dietitian
For a more personalized plan, make an appointment with a registered dietitian (RD). An RD can help assess your current weight and diet and provide you with the best eating plan to move forward. Visit the Sports,Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition (SCAN) website to find an RD that specializes in sports nutrition.
How do you plan to adjust your eating plan post-race?
Nancy & Sarah, guest blogger
For more information on how to manage weight: