You can train for any race distance – from 5 to 42.2km – to drop unwanted weight, as long as you’re smart about your eating
Almost every runner has wanted to lose weight at one point or another. And the promise of getting lean lures many to sign up and train for a race. For good reason: committing to a goal can give you the motivation you need to exercise regularly and burn more kilojoules. But many people assume training for a race – especially a marathon – is their ticket to a slimmer self (after all, more kilometres means more kilojoules burned). That’s not always true, since some runners – hungry from their increase in activity – mistakenly eat more than they need. The key to losing weight is to pick the right distance – 5K, 10K, half-marathon, or marathon – for your situation and pair your training with the right nutrition plan. Here are 10 must-have, weight-loss-friendly foods for all runners – no matter their race distance. (For 5K-, 10K-, half-marathon- and marathon-specific plans, pick up a copy of Runner’s World May 2013.)
Creamy-tasting avocados provide good fats that fill you up and are a healthy substitute for mayo on sandwiches. They also have anti-inflammatory properties, says Pamela Nisevich Bede, author of a nutrition blog, Fuel School.
“They’re packed with fibre, which sticks with you longer, and antioxidants to help the body repair damage,” says Patricia Bannan, author of Eat Right When Time Is Tight.
“They don’t go bad, so you never have an excuse to eat pizza instead of eating well,” says Tina Gowin, owner of GoWin Nutrition. “Use them for stir-fry or mixed with quinoa.”
Plain yoghurt has loads of protein and a rich taste that (almost) substitutes for ice cream.
Packed with vitamin C, potassium and fibre, spinach, kale, and other greens offer a huge nutritional bang for few kilojoules.
Red meat is high in protein and iron, an important nutrient for runners. Lean options include filet mignon, sirloin, 95% lean ground beef, and tenderloin.
Yes, they’re high-fat. “But they’re healthy fats and they supply protein, making that apple you pair it with more satisfying,” says Gowin, “Just don’t eat it by the spoonful.”
Want a guilt-free treat? Reach for low-kilojoule popcorn. “It’s a whole grain, and you don’t undo all your hard work,” says Nisevich Bede.
This whole grain is rich in slow-digesting carbs and protein (which means you won’t be hungry 15 minutes later, like you are with white rice).
This fatty fish is rich in inflammation-reducing omega-3 fatty acids, and provides plenty of satisfying protein, too.