As you get started with your running routine, you should also be taking strides to make your diet healthier as well. A good diet and a proper running fitness program are not only a great way to get into the best shape of your life, but also improve your body composition.

Remember, you may build a little bit more muscle mass tissue as you begin your running journey, but if you pair that with good nutrition, you will also burn body fat at the same time.

The result will be a leaner, healthier, new you.

This said, it’s vital that you fully understand how to pair together your diet with your exercise program. Let’s go over a few of the key facts to know so that you eat right and still maintain enough energy to do those regular runs. If you don’t plan properly, you’ll find you’re so drained that you lose the joy in running and stop altogether.

Total Calorie Intake

First, in order to burn fat and lose weight, you will need to take in fewer calories than you consume. There’s no real way around this as that calorie deficit is what will force the body to use body fat tissue as a fuel source.

That said, if you take your calories too low, your metabolism will just shut down and in addition to that, you’ll be seriously lacking in energy.

For active runners running between 2-3 miles per day, you’ll want to consume around 13-14 calories per pound of body weight. For those running a bit longer – between 4-6 miles per day, you’ll want to increase this to 15-16 calories per pound of body weight.

This will be enough energy to fuel those runs and still have you losing weight. Remember that the number is not set in stone however and should be adjusted as you move through your diet plan.

Timing Your Carbohydrates

Next, you need to focus your carbohydrates around your run. Remember, this is when the body will need the energy the most, so when you want to ensure you are delivering it. Try and load up at least 50% of your total carbohydrate intake in the hour or two before the run and the hour or two after the run.

Choose wholesome sources such as brown rice, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and quinoa. Bananas or other fruits are also great choices. This will provide more energy to fuel the workout.

Then later on in the day, focus on carbohydrates from vegetables. These are lower in total calories and higher in fiber, so will keep hunger levels down while keeping your calorie intake in check.

Runners running 2-3 miles per day should aim for around 150 grams of carbohydrates per day while those doing 4-6 miles should aim for closer to 200 grams or so.

Again, this isn’t set in stone, but a great starting point.

Getting In Those Healthy Fats

Healthy fast are going to be the primary fuel source of your body when you run out of fuel from carbohydrates. For more intense runs, such as interval training once you start including those into the protocol, you cannot use fats as a fuel however, so note that carbohydrates must be consumed.

Fats should also be paired in with the meals containing only vegetables as this will help ensure your energy level stays where it should be.
Healthy fat choices include nuts and nut butter, avocados, fatty varieties of fish, olive oil, flaxseeds, as well as coconut fats.

Remember dietary fats are very calorie dense, so just make sure you are watching your serving size and keeping it in check.
Keep fats out of the meals right before or after the run as well as it can cause you to feel slightly more sluggish as you go about the exercise.

Never Neglecting Protein

Finally, make sure you never neglect your protein. One grave mistake too many runners make is favoring carbs over protein, which will just lead to muscle mass loss. This is especially the case when you’re dieting as well.

Aim to take in around 1-1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Spread this out over the course of the day so that you are having at least 10 grams with each meal and snack you eat.

Good protein sources to include are lean beef, turkey and chicken breast (without skin), fish and seafood, eggs and egg whites, whey protein powder, and low fat dairy products. These will provide a very rich source of protein that will help ensure that you are repairing and rebuilding muscles as you should.

So there you have the steps to take to get your diet in proper alignment so that you can lose body fat while you go about your runs, while still maintaining performance. Be sure to consider using Zen Lab’s Weight Tracker Free Fitness Journal as well to help you manage your progress.

Have you tried these breathing techniques? What worked best for you? Share your tips, struggles, and stories in the comments below.