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Carb Confusion

Clearing Up The Rumors

Confused about carbs? It's no wonder.If you're a runner, you've heard that carbs are critical if you want to run strong. And yet for decades, carbs have been demonized as public enemy #1 for anyone who wants to lose weight.

Here's what you need to know about carbs, and what role they should play in your running life.

Don't Go Without

Try to cut carbs too much and you'll end up fatigued going into each run, and slogging along. It's like trying to drive your car with your fuel tank on Empty. As a runner 60% of your daily calories should come from high quality carbs. They're the most efficient fuel that the body can quickly absorb, and process for energy. When you have carbs on board, you'll be better positioned to get the maximum possible calorie burn from your workout, and take your fitness to the next level.

Quality Counts

Not all carbs are created equal. There is a big difference between the healthy wholesome carbs in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, which provide fiber, antioxidants and a host of essential vitamins and minerals, and the carbs you get from candy, which often come with a lot of calories, sugars, and artificial additives, and no nutritional benefit. Sure, that package of candy may offer 45 grams of carbs just as a cup of Quinoa does, but the Quinoa has essential amino acids that help build muscle and help protect you from chronic diseases.

Watch The Timing

Carbs are your body's best fuel source for running, it's important time your intake so that you can leverage those carbs on the road. most efficient form of fuel for your body. By consuming carbohydrate before, sometimes during, and after your workout (combined with protein) you'll be able to feel energized during the run and feel ready to tackle future workouts without feeling overly fatigued.

Don't Forget Fruits and Veggies

The word "carb" summons dreamy visions of bagels, donuts, and other hot-steaming baked goods. But fresh fruits and vegetables actually provide a lot of the carbs any runner needs to rev up their workouts, without a lot of the additives and unsavory side effects that can weigh runners down, on the road and on the scale. Take the banana; even beyond carbs, it has an array of critical nutrients runners need - including vitamin B6 (which helps convert proteins and sugars into energy), magnesium (which assists in muscle contractions, energy metabolism, endurance and aerobic capacity), and potassium (which is critical to fending off electrolyte balances that can lead to muscle cramps on the run.)Some fruits and veggies better than others for your running. The fiber in many fruits will help boost your heart health. But because it takes longer to digest, it can also lead to GI distress on the road.If you're heading out the door for a run the next 60 minutes—avoid any produce that has more than 7 grams of fiber per serving.


About Jen Van Allen


Jen has spent the past six years working as Special Projects Editor for Runner's World magazine, and writing stories for the magazine. Her books, The Runner's World Big Book of Marathon and Half-Marathon Training, (Rodale Books, June 2012) The Runner's World Big Book of Running for Beginners and The Runner's World Training Journal for Beginners, (Rodale Books, April 2014) are available wherever books are sold. She is currently at work on her next book, The Runner's World Guide to Weight Loss, which will be available in stores in January 2016. She also contributes stories to The Washington Post, and The Portland Press Herald.


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