By Unnu Shukla, Longhorn Run Media Coordinator
“You are what you eat.”
We’ve all heard this expression countless times; and there’s a reason why. There’s a lot of truth to it! I had the opportunity to sit and chat with Amy Culp, Sports Dietitian and Assistant Athletics Director at The University of Texas at Austin.
“Nutrition is important in training for a race because food that you eat becomes fuel that you burn. If you eat well, you feel well,” says Culp. Food, which can be broken down into carbs, proteins, and fats, provide nutrition for fuel and recovery. “When you’re training for a race like the Longhorn Run, you should be following a basic healthy diet. A good plate is ½ plate of colorful fruits and veggies, ¼ carbs, ¼ lean protein.” Carbs help you recover while protein helps build lean muscle mass that’ll power you through those tough Austin hills. “You want to make sure you’re consistently eating small meals throughout the day, every 3-4 hours or so.”
In regards to the biggest mistake people make, she told me about the two extremes: those who decide to do a drastic overhaul on their diet and cut back too much, and those that develop the “I can eat whatever I want” mentality, which also harms your training progress. (Guess which category I fall into… #bottomlesspit).
At the end of the day though, it’s all about what works for you. “Especially for runners,” Culp says, “it’s all very individualized. Play around with what you’re eating during your training and see if you notice a difference in the way you feel.” Use the Longhorn Run to not only work towards a goal and improve your running, but also improve your nutrition. The two go hand-in-hand, and when you eat well, you feel well.
Let’s crush this race by fueling our bodies properly as we cross that finish line as stronger, healthier athletes.
Amy Culp, RD is the Assistant Athletics Director and Sports Dietitian for The University of Texas at Austin Athletics Department.