Tomato Turbo Tim The Vegetable Gnome. (If I get enough requests he'll be let out into the wild)

Food is life. Wow. How true. Tim would agree with you.

People can’t survive a long time without eating or drinking. Getting started with running you means that you have lots of burning questions like: should I eat bananas for the Potassium? What about Oatmeal and pasta the night before a run? How much water is too much water? I come from the squat rack; can I still eat protein after I run? What should I eat before, during or after my run? If you want real answers to those questions and other reasonable concerns keep reading. I’ll also let you in on a little secret that can help you save hundreds of dollars on your running supplementation.

I’m sure that you heard about this whole macronutrient thing before but to keep it brief our food can be categorized into 4 groups. You can think of these like the different parts of a physical painting. Typically you need wood to build the frame, then you stretch the canvas over the frame and only then do you start the painting onto the canvas, while you can add other things to the painting like fancier paints, particulates and protective layering to the frame, the only three macronutrients your body generally eats are carbohydrates (fast fuel), fats (dense and intense energy), fiber (filler that keeps your gut happy) and protein (the building blocks of your body).

To make an overcomplicated conversation simple, when it comes to losing body fat, you need to eat less of the fats and carbs than you “burn” in a day and eat enough protein to either maintain your muscle and hormones or to build them up. You might wonder why I didn’t describe protein in the burn equation, after all, can’t I burn protein for fuel too? Yes, you definitely can! But for the average person protein is used primarily for wear and tear as well as hormone function so that’s not something that I personally believe you need to take into account with something as calorie taxing as running. When you exercise your muscle tissue, hormones, blood vessels and other systemic components are worn down and need to be rebuilt and fixed.

Your body performs at peak when you have enough protein. Knowing this we can make some simple ground rules, though you may better consider them to be common sense safety rails.

1. If you are putting on body fat and not moving much start by moving and not changing your calories and if you are losing too much weight and feel tired all the time, lethargic, then feel free to add calories.

2. To maintain your muscle mass, you need to eat about 0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight on average.

There are plenty of ways of approaching this so the easiest thing I recommend to do is to use a food tracking app, if this do this for about a week you will get a good sense of what you’re eating and not eating and, in this way, learn about your own eating styles what could be the better approach for you.

Ultimately though the question raised was meant to answer something more nuanced: what to eat before, during and after runs. If you’re running in the morning and running on an empty stomach doesn’t sit well with you, I recommend that you eat a small amount of carbohydrate like half or a full banana for example. Another popular alternative would be a small piece of toast, oatmeal, or another similar food. The practical reason for this is to eat something small that reduces your stomach acid, also known as the burning feeling in your throat that makes you feel like you drank hot sauce.

If you are a beginner runner and don’t have experience running and eating at the same time don’t bother quite yet, while it might be tempting, there aren’t any benefits until you hit distances and speeds over 15km or so.

If you do want I tend to recommend about 300 calories worth of carbs every 10km or so, and I tend to like candy like Skittles. Ideally you should hydrate with half a cup of water every 5km or so, ideally an electrolyte mixes which will help you with overall performance. If you are new to running, I do not recommend eating and running at the same time because odds are that the blood flow that would usually exist in your stomach will be completely diverted to your legs causing stomach pains.

Now assume that you’ve just run a long distance, your legs are tired, and you feel, for the lack of a better word, exhausted, what should you eat? The truth is that there is no secret food, nonetheless, here are some general guidelines for you: eat protein – approximately 30 to 40 grams is what I would recommend, this comes from the protein absorption literature and has been found to be the best way to speed up muscle tissue repair. Next, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. If you’re peeing yellow you need more water, keep incrementally drinking anywhere between one to two cups of water every half hour or so until your pee looks mostly clear.

Are you experiencing cramps? In that case what I want you to do is to have salt and potassium, you can either doing that by using the intuitive and easy to use hydration tablets like Nuun or Hydrolyte or if you’re tight on money and don’t mind salt flavored water you can buy something called cream of tartar and put a pinch of that and a pinch of salt into a cup of water, give it a good mix and you’ll have saved yourself almost 2 dollars per cup.

Some of the supplements that I recommend to almost everyone, outside of clinical populations are: DHA and EPAs at about 3 grams a day as well as a healthy dose of vitamin D will go a long way towards helping to maintain your bone strength and capacity for recovery, be sure to get enough through supplementation. Caffeine during and before running isn’t a bad idea! If you’re using to having coffee or energy drinks don’t shy away from them if you run.

We’re almost done with Nutrition but here are a few extra tips and tricks that could help you with supplementing your running, though I will warn you that there is no research completed on this subject so it may not be completely validated outside of personal and client experience: Ashwagandha for cutting the stress hormone. As far as we currently know, this medicinal herb is capable of essentially rate-limiting your stress hormone Cortisol, this means that while on this supplement you are less likely to have spikes of stress response, it should essentially keep it steady. Now when it comes to running the cortisol response is important because it helps with the regulation of blood flow, effort, and intensity – when it comes to recovery though, I’ve found that taking 300 up to 1200mg of concentrated Ashwagandha can help my body limit the negative stress response and reduce what is known in the community as post-race depression. While we don’t have any research about this topic my guess is that it has something to do with your body overshooting it’s stress response from the intensity of the exercise causing you to experience very serious withdrawal effects, and because it’s a hormonal response we can expect this peak and trough to last anywhere between 2 to 6 days. By taking this stress cutting herb you can potentially make your recovery feel superhuman without hurting any of your prime hormonal markers and therefore benefit without much of a side effect. But be warned it is not recommended for daily use and should be used in bursts because otherwise you can build up a dependence just like coffee with withdrawal giving you feelings of crankiness.

Alright, that was a LOT of information here are the most important points:

· Don't stress over what you eat, focus on the macros: protein, carbs, fats and fiber. Specifically, get about 0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight to maintain or build muscle.

· Pre-run grub is key, but don't overdo it. Grab a small carb source like a banana or toast to ease your stomach for the morning run.

· When going for longer runs, keep your body fueled. Consider about 300 calories worth of carbs every 10km. Hydrate with half a cup of water or electrolyte mix every 5km. Don't eat and run if you're a newbie though, trust me, stomach cramps are no fun.- Recover like a champ after your run. Pack in about 30 to 40 grams of protein for muscle repair and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. If your pee looks like lemonade, it's time to drink more water.

· Considering supplements? You betcha! Get your daily dose of DHA and EPAs (about 3 grams per day) and Vitamin D for solid bones and recovery. Coffee lovers don't ditch your caffeine - it's a solid pre-run energizer.

· Ever tried Ashwagandha? This little herb might just be your new best friend for keeping stress hormones in check and easing your post-race blues. But remember, it's not for daily use - treat it like your coffee habit to avoid being a cranky pants.