What to eat on normal training days

Find out how many carbohydrates you need to fuel, recover and manage your weight effectively, plus recipe suggestions for normal training days.

A runner stretching after a training session

On normal training days you should aim for a moderate increase in energy (calorie) intake mainly from increased carbohydrate...

Nutrition plan for normal training days (1 training session over 60 min or containing intermittent/high-intensity training)

Moderate intake of carbs and protein
You should have a moderate intake of carbohydrates on these days. A sensible starting point is including a serving of carbohydrate at two meals. This will ensure that the body is properly fuelled for training and that carbohydrate (glycogen) stores are refuelled after your run, ready for your next training session. 

If you have included carbs at breakfast and refuelled at lunch, it is not necessary to have a serving of carbohydrate with each meal, so the evening meal can be lower in carbohydrate (and higher in protein, fats and vegetables).

Meal options should focus on low-GI carbohydrates for sustained energy release. Aim for a moderate protein intake as well - a serving of protein should be included with each meal for ongoing muscle growth and repair. 

Snacks should also focus on protein-rich foods. Low-fat Greek yogurt, nuts and seeds and lean meats can make the basis for snacks as required.

'Training low'
Depending on your goals, you may wish to 'train low' by eating a low carb, higher protein meal before your longer run (reducing the availability of carbohydrate to the muscles) to increase the stress on them, so that they adapt and become more efficient for endurance training.

The most common way of ‘training low’ is to exercise before breakfast. More recently, research has also shown that a workout after a protein-based (low carb) breakfast will produce the same result. 

It should be noted that ‘training low’ increases the strain on the muscles, which can reduce the training quality of harder session, therefore it should be carefully planned for appropriate sessions. If it’s an intense session, go in fuelled!

Other nutrients
Include polyunsaturated fats in your evening meal to promote the function of muscle cells. Iron-rich foods should be also be included – iron is vital for carrying oxygen to the working muscles and supporting energy production during endurance training.

Meal options:

Breakfast:
Porridge with blueberry compote
Scrambled egg muffin
Vanilla-almond chia breakfast bowl

Morning snack suggestion:
Fruit & nut yogurt

Lunch options:
Cajun blackened chicken with supergreen quinoa
Smoked salmon & avocado sushi
Spiced rice with prawns

Afternoon snack suggestion:
Chinese spiced seed mix

Dinner options:
Thai beef stir fry with aubergine salad
Sesame tuna steaks with Asian slaw
Chicken breast with avocado salad

Evening snack (optional)
Melon & crunchy bran pots

Now find out what to eat on easy and heavy training days.

More training & nutrition tips for runners

Are you training for a race this year? What have you found most challenging and do you have any top tips to share with other runners? We'd love to hear from you below...


This article was last reviewed on 22 January 2018 by James Collins, sports nutritionist.

James Collins is head of nutrition at Arsenal Football Club. He’s worked with some of the world’s best athletes over the last decade within Olympic and professional sport. His Performance Nutrition principles are now helping everyone to look, feel and perform better each day. Find out more at: www.jamescollinsnutrition.com.

All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact  your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.
 

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