Healthy Eating: Smart Nutrition Tips for Runners

TORONTO August 11th 2015. Digital Champion Vicky Leung started running in 2008 to lose weight, and now she does it because it makes her feel better both physically and mentally. Vicky loves the sense of accomplishment she feels after crossing the finish line, knowing all her training and hard work has paid off. When she’s not running, you’ll find Vicky road biking, exploring new places to eat, watching films and travelling. Connect with Vicky on Twitter and Instagram.

Healthy Eating: Smart Nutrition Tips for Runners. By Vicky Leung 

_MG_8954Many people know I started running to lose weight. It was easy, and for a while I was able toshed the pounds. But over time, I wasn’t getting the results I wanted. I was putting in the miles but rewarding myself with food. Wasn’t I allowed to eat whatever I wanted if I was running four to five times a week? The truth was, I was taking in more calories than I needed, and not making the best food choices either. That meant I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted on the scale or out on the road . Does this sound familiar? Here are several suggestions I used to clean up my eating and stay on top of my nutritional game.

Watch your sugar intake

These aren’t the naturally occurring sugars you find in fruits and veggies. It’s the refined sugar that’s hidden in processed foods. It all adds up over the course of a day – the sugar you put into your morning coffee, granola bars, salad dressings, fruit bottom yogurts and pre-packaged oatmeal to name a few. The best way to avoid eating excess amounts of sugar is to not buy highly processed foods in the first place. Keep your fridge and cupboards stocked with healthy foods and you’ll be less tempted to eat badly. Moderation is the key – eat healthy and nutritious meals for a majority of the week and you won’t feel guilty about indulging in an occasional treat.

Stay hydrated

Drink plenty of water in addition to any other fluids you consume. Water is beneficial for the body in many ways – it helps with digestion, keeps your joints lubricated, flushes out toxins, prevents fatigue and, most importantly it helps with weight loss management. Drinking water will keep you feeling full, which controls your food cravings. So stay hydrated even when you aren’t exercising. I aim for a minimum of eight glasses of water a day; you may need more depending on your level of activity.

Eat protein

Your protein requirements will increase as you are training for your race so make sure to have a source of protein with every meal. The two major benefits of protein are that it helps to rebuild lean muscles, which aids in recovery time. Secondly, it keeps you feeling satiated longer, which can help to prevent overeating. Some of my favourites include eggs, quinoa, chicken, fish, lentils and edamame.

Re-fuel post run

Your body needs carbs and protein to begin the recovery process after a long run. Try to eat a small snack within 30 to 60 minutes of your workout session. On my runs that are shorter than an hour, I keep it simple with a glass of milk or peanut butter and apple slices. For longer runs, I have the glass of milk along with a small snack like a hardboiled egg or yogurt. And, if you like having treats, be mindful of what you’re eating post-run. Just because you ran for 30 minutes, doesn  mean you’ve earned a donut. As my physiotherapist Dev says, “You can’t out-train your eating.”

Eat breakfast

There’s a lot of discussion over whether eating breakfast makes a difference when trying to lose weight. For me it’s a no brainer – I eat breakfast because it gives me energy to get through the day. It also keeps me from snacking on sweets later on. Most mornings, I go with a protein shake or overnight oats – they’re easy to make ahead of time so you can grab and go in the morning

Here’s a breakfast recipe you can use to start your day off right. Good luck with your training, and I’ll see you at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 18.

Vicky Leung Blog PostBlueberry and Maple Overnight Oats

(adapted from

3/4 cup Vanilla flavoured Greek yogurt
2/3 cup oats
2/3 cup cashew milk
1 tsp chia seeds
1 tsp maple syrup (or honey)
1/3 cup fresh blueberries

Combine the above ingredients in a bowl, mix well, cover and place into the fridge overnight. Serve the following day and add additional sweetners or liquids if necessary. I like adding some lemon zest, a pinch of cinnamon and more blueberries to mine. The oats can be heated in the microwave if you like.