Just because the temperature has started to rise, doesn’t mean you should give up your runs. Instead, it would be best if you rethought a few of your routines, including what you eat and drink to keep yourself healthy.
Unfortunately, when the weather is hot, it is a lot easier to upset your stomach and dehydrate your system – neither of which is beneficial for your athletic performance.
From the benefits of caffeine to the Grit + Tonic nutrition items to buy, read on for five essential nutrition tips for runners in hot climates.
1. Generally, you always want to eat something.
One of the biggest questions that new runners have is whether to eat something before going on a run, and how long they should wait after they eat to hit the pavement.
Generally, you always want to eat something a few hours or have a light snack before you do a long route because your body needs carbohydrates to fuel itself. On the other hand, if you are doing an early morning low-intensity jog, you may be okay with a light snack or even a fasted session. However, this depends primarily on you and your body’s needs, which usually change over time.
For a morning run, you may want to eat breakfast about two hours before starting. It can be something like oats, whole grain toast with eggs, granola, fruit salad and low-fat Greek yogurt, or a freshly made smoothie or fruit juice. These are fantastic options for both regular running days and race days.
If you are running in the evening, make sure to eat a healthy breakfast and lunch (both including protein and complex carbs), and then have a snack an hour before working out.
2. Avoid hard-to-digest snacks.
The hotter the weather, the harder your body has to work to ensure that your blood is flowing enough to aid you in sweating, running, and digesting. For this reason, you want to be careful about what you are consuming before you go on a hot-weather run, as your body is going to be able to digest things differently to when it is cooler outside. Plus, you don’t need lots of extra calories to keep your body warm.
For this reason, skip protein-heavy snacks (such as jerky) as they require a lot of energy to be digested, and you want to save that for your run. Additionally, sugary energy bars should be avoided as these are harsh on your digestive tract and prompt your energy levels to crash.
Treats such as ice cream, beer, and anything spicy should also be omitted as they can quickly cause stomach issues and take a long time to digest. The last thing you want is to have an upset stomach as this is a surefire way to ruin your run and prevent yourself from obtaining the nutrition you need.
3. Keep yourself hydrated.
As a runner, one of the most important things you have to do is keep yourself hydrated. This is true in all climates, but even more crucial when it is scorching hot outside. Maintaining your hydration is necessary for maximizing performance, minimizing injury and improving your recovery. In other words, if you are dehydrated, you will get tired quicker, have an increased heart rate, and be more likely to develop headaches and cramps.
To avoid this, you need to drink lots of water as H2O helps regulate your body temperature, eliminates waste, delivers energy to your cells, and bolsters your joints.
Drinking water throughout the day is the best way to ensure you remain hydrated and are replenishing lost fluid. Also, keep in mind that thirst isn’t necessarily the best indicator of dehydration. Around two hours before you go on a run, make sure to drink 16 ounces (two cups) of water and then about 15 minutes before leaving, another six to eight ounces of water.
Furthermore, hydration drinks are a fantastic low-calorie beverage option that hydrate and replenish your electrolyte levels before, during, and after a run. For example, GU Hydration Drink Tabs are made for daily runners and come in a portable container, so you can always have one with you.
4. Limit your caffeine intake.
Runners around the world like to reach for coffee before they head out as the caffeine stimulates the nervous system, creating a performance-enhancing effect. This, then, serves as a natural performance booster, helping you to increase your stamina and speed. Moreover, due to its high level of antioxidants, coffee boosts your immune system and increases your metabolism.
If you are going to have a cup of coffee before you go running, make sure that you have it black to keep it low in calories. Additionally, you don’t want to have more than three to six milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of your body weight.
Consuming more than this amount does not improve performance, but instead can cause the development of adverse side effects such as dizziness, anxiety, and heart palpitations. Generally, the best time to drink it is 30 minutes to an hour before your run starts as this will give coffee time to reach its maximum effect.
5. Provide your body with essential nutrients afterward.
Once you have completed your run, you want to provide your body with essential nutrients as soon as possible, ideally within 20 minutes after your run. This is vital for the repair process to start and to ensure that you have a full recovery.
That being said, what you choose to eat is going to vary based on your goals. If you are looking to build muscle, you will want to have a snack or meal with high protein content. On the other hand, if you are focusing on losing weight, you will want an option lower in calories. No matter what you eat, you must prioritize replenishing lost fluids, recovering glycogen levels, and restoring your muscle fibers.
Are you a hot-weather runner? If so, what additional nutrition tips do you have to add to this list? How do you keep yourself healthy when exercising in the heat?
Let us know in the comments below!