When you start out on your C25K program, one of the main drivers is likely to be weight loss and body toning. There are two keys to achieving this successfully: an activity program and a nutrition plan. This article will guide you in the right direction towards achieving your goals through eating the right food.
It’s all about the maths right? Common sense tells us that if you eat more calories than you burn then you will put on weight and, by the same logic, if you burn more calories than you eat then you will lose weight. As a principle that is fine, but the other factor to consider is what you are fuelling your body with.
You are making huge changes to your life right now and it is important that your efforts on the road or the treadmill are complemented by the food you eat. Your body is getting used to walking and jogging after years of avoiding exercise and so it needs the right fuel, at the right time, to help it along.
Here are some guidelines to help you develop a healthy 5k nutrition plan.
- Firstly, take a look at your diet now. Keep a food diary for a week and be honest. Make a note of everything you eat and when you eat it. If you pull off the road on the way home from work for a burger, note it down. That sneaky chocolate bar at break – get it in the diary. The food diary will give you a really good idea of the things you need to change about your eating habits.
- Start counting – not calories, because that takes the enjoyment out of eating. Add up the amount of fats, proteins and carbohydrates you eat during the day. As a guide, you should be looking to eat 2 portions of protein a day (eggs, lean meat, lentils), 5 portions of carbohydrates (pasta, bread, cereal), 3 portions of dairy food (milk, yogurt, cheese) and at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables. (If you are looking to lose weight, keep portion sizes small – a handful of rice/pasta, two medium size potatoes, one egg).
- Swap food. If you normally have a sweet dessert to finish your dinner, have fruit and yogurt instead. Have fish instead of a burger; substitute white bread for wholemeal; buy semi-skimmed instead of full fat milk.
- Plan your menu. At the start of each week plan your main meals. Taking an overview of the whole week will enable you to see if you are getting the proportions of protein, carbohydrate and fat right. It will also help you with your weekly food shop and help you cut out buying high fat/high calorie food stuffs.
But it is not all about the three main meals. It is important that you eat snacks at regular points throughout the day. As part of your 5k nutrition plan, you must ensure that you have enough fuel to follow your activity program. Consider what you are snacking on. Crisps, cakes, biscuits and chocolates are empty calories – they have a high sugar content but they will not fill you up or give you the long-term energy you need. Instead they will give you a quick burst of energy and then leave you feeling tired and lethargic.
Buy snacks such as dried and fresh fruit, nuts and cereal bars. Keep a supply in your office desk or in your bag. When you begin to feel hungry eat these rather than going to the confectionary vending machine. You can also plan snacks into your exercise routine. If you are going to jog 5k after you finish work, have a cereal bar or a piece of fruit mid-afternoon. If you exercise first thing in the morning have a handful of dried fruit as you get up just to kick start your system.
After a work out, it is important that you re-fuel. If you do your run and then go straight to work without eating something, you will soon begin to feel hungry and this is the dangerous time. Suddenly that piece of chocolate or that bag of crisps looks really tempting and before you know it, you have devoured the lot. Minutes later you will still feel hungry, but now you will feel that you have wasted all the good work done on the run because you have eaten a heap of empty calories.
Finally, a quick word about hydration. It is really important that you drink plenty of water throughout the day. This will keep you alert, keep you healthy and can also counter hunger pangs. Fruit juice and sports drinks are okay, but they do have high sugar content. Coffee and tea are also fine in moderation, so long as you keep drinking water as well.
Remember, with C25K you are pushing yourself harder than you ever have before, so taking in the right fuel is essential to keeping you moving smoothly.