Whether you’re trying to make performance gains, or attain more energy and vigor in life, it all boils down to the old adage, “we are what we eat.” When you focus on improving and customizing your nutrition, greatness happens.
I’ve seen runners shatter their personal best times by making simple changes to their diets. Like training, it’s more than just following a standard generalized program. As a runner trains, they begin to identify how their body reacts to various workouts and plans and it allows them to refocus their training based on what works for them.
The same is true for nutrition. What works for one runner may not be the best for another. For instance, I coach one runner who is very low in iron, and another that runs too high in iron. If they followed the general recommendation to eat more iron-rich foods, it would help one and might hurt the other.
The key is to take steps towards identifying the foods that nourish your body and begin to develop your personal nutrition.
Here are three ways to personalize your nutrition to improve your running and life performance.
Take inventory. It’s easier than ever to track what you eat. Many use apps like Myfitnesspal and logs like Training Peaks to take inventory of what they eat to gain a big picture on all the nutritional variables including fat, carbohydrate and protein percentages, frequency and portions and sugar and fiber. Setting yourself up with an account and investing a month in tracking everything you eat allows you to view your nutritional performance just like your runs, and seeing is understanding. It allows you to begin to see some of the common tweaks a runner can make to improve like eating enough to fuel performance and recovery, getting in enough protein or less fat and sugar. This is a great step for those that have no reference to their diet.
Hire a Personal Nutritionist. Like a personal trainer, meeting with a Personal Sports Nutritionist can improve your performance more efficiently as they create a plan based on the demands of your training and life schedule. They build a nutritional program that supports your body so it can recover optimal and maintain a healthy weight. One of the most common mistakes runners make is in under fueling, especially when they are trying to lose weight during the season. Getting personal guidance helps you avoid the many pitfalls of tweaking your diet and risking poor recovery and performance.
Customize Your Nutrition to Your Body. The next evolution in nutrition is customization based on what is really going on in your body. InsideTracker is a dynamic and personalized analytic platform at the intersection of biology, science and technology. The service analyzes your blood and physiological data and distills the results into simple, natural and sustainable nutrition and lifestyle recommendations for you to follow. It takes the guesswork out of nutrition and expedites a menu of all the nutrition your body needs to improve health, performance and more. You can choose from seven different plans that focus on varying biomarkers including energy and metabolism, inflammation, bone and muscle health, strength and endurance, minerals, brain and body, and oxygen and performance and liver health.
Christopher Malenab recently smashed five minutes off his personal marathon record (3:04:06) by changing his diet based on the insights on his biomarkers. “The information that came from my analysis gave me recommendations that are science-based and food recommendations that are specific to me. The process of knowing what I need to take in more of and less of was amazing,” explains Malenab. Not everyone needs the same food or same amounts to achieve their optimal levels to perform athletically and most importantly live healthy.
Mike Wardian, professional ultra runner tests every two months, and has found gains in his performance by knowing how his body is working and reacting to the foods and fuels he’s consuming. “I’ve been having a stellar year and I like to think that all the little things that I work so hard on are coming together and using InsideTracker to fine tune my food and fueling is just another tool that I can use to accomplish the goals that I have set out for myself, said Wardian.