Monday, 29 October 2012

The search for the perfect running diet

You may have gathered from my last couple of post's that the subject of nutrition has been filling my brain at the moment. I've considered everything from the vegan diet, to the fruitarian diet and the Paleo diet. Arghhhh! so much confusion. So this post is as much as clearing my mind as it is to sharing with the reader.

I've now become a fairly serious runner, not in quality but in that if I'm not running then I'm thinking about it or talking about it a lot of the time (oh, and reading and blogging about it too!)...I'm not boring, honest! When I first started out running I never really thought much about the nutritional side of things, it was all about increasing miles and competing in 10K's, but in the last couple of years where the miles and races have increased up to marathon distances, suddenly nutrition becomes a whole new and important ball game.

I remember hitting the wall so hard in my first marathon that I was determined to get to the bottom of this nutritional malarkey!

The fruitarian and Paleo diet are very much based on what are ancestors could get their hands on (No M&S ready meals in other words!) very much berries,fruit, nuts,vegetables and meat is the Paleo diet and er...fruit for the fruitarian diet.

Now I can relate to this concept, especially the Paleo diet, I believe strongly that as humans we were meant to eat meat (sorry vegetarians!) We have teeth, some sharp front ones for biting the meat and the rear teeth for chewing. We are in a food chain and meat is full of essential vitamins, minerals and protein, if we were not meant to eat it then it would not be so good for you and when have you ever met a vegetarian Tiger?

I agree we certainly eat too much meat in our diet as it is readily available, our cavemen ancestors would only eat meat sparingly when they could catch the damn stuff. More importantly we eat far too much processed meat, and this is something I'm trying to eliminate from my diet.

For a great interview related to running and the Paleo diet listen to episode 19 of the Talk Ultra podcast. There is an interview with Barry Murray at about 1 hour and 4 minutes into the show that is well worth a listen.

The fruitarian diet is raw fruit and vegetables...blah! How dull, I love my fruit but for every meal 365 days of the year? I tried it for a day last week, on a day I was running 5 miles in the morning and 5 miles in the evening. On the evening run I felt drained and close to stopping after a few miles with no real source of carbs to fuel my day. This was only a day and I understand you have to train your body over months and months before it starts adapting to any new fuelling system.

I love listening to The Fruitarian on You Tube, I like picking out the best bits of what he has to say and applying it to my diet. The Fruitarian (Michael Arnstein) is an ultrarunner you has achieved many successes in racing based on this diet. Check out one of his videos below:

One question I do often ask myself is "What about Evolution?" We've got less hair on our bodies now as we have evolved. We no longer need a a thick covering of hair on our bodies as we no longer live in caves and have clothes and central heating. So what about our diet, can that evolve as well?
Bread was not around when we were cavemen but we now have been eating bread for hundreds of years. Surely from generation to generation, years upon years our bodies change to the way we process this once alien food? The same with milk?
Now I'm a fairly trim lad, but I do tend to have a bloated and swollen belly area most the time. I once went to see a physio who recognised straight away that this was not fat but due to digestion issues. I believe I need to avoid gluten and dairy for this reason. When I do manage to steer away from these foods for a day or two, I do recognise a reduced bloating to my belly.
So my quest for the perfect running diet goes on, I'm trying to pick the best bits out of all the diets and work out what's best for me, but still treat myself to that chunky KitKat! Hopefully this post gives 'Food for thought'.


  1. Hi Ian, great post - lots of food, for, erm, thought (pun intended)!

    As you know, I now follow a vegan diet, and so far, so good! It's all about finding what works best for you - I too, feel bloated after carbs and dairy, and find that if I eat anything that is 'processed' I feel ill afterwards.

    For me, following a vegan diet keeps me on track and eating healthily - I have to think just that little bit more about what I'm eating (as nearly EVERYTHING has dairy in it), and I therefore tend to eat more raw/pure/non-processed food as a result.

  2. Totally agree Liz. I dont think it matters what diet you follow as long as you are happy with it and it works for you. Thanks for the comment.