[00:00:00] The topic of conversation today is a surprisingly common question from people that don’t run or people that are trying to get into running or people that like to eat. And that’s simply do runners eat a lot?
[00:00:23] I’m Jesse Funk, the founder of Solpri.com and the host of this show, Runner’s High, where we talk about everything running from eating to training to gifts to anything in between. So if you like running, hit subscribe. Stick around me for more episodes on this channel every single week.
[00:00:40] Now the question of do runners eat a lot has a simple yet not simple answer. I mean, I guess you can say yes, but you also go, okay, let’s be a little more analytical. What is a lot? And then you can get really granular with it. But I think when you think about, like compared to what the average American diet should be or the average consumption, then yes. And the reason this is is because we burn extra calories.
[00:01:12] So by extension, anybody that’s working out a fair amount is going to eat, “a lot”. It is going to be more so the tendency of runners, because as we discussed in one of my other videos, talk about how long does it take to burn a thousand calories running. We know that we burn roughly 100 calories per mile.
[00:01:32] So if you are, say, running, we make this easy 49 miles a week. That means you’re burning an extra 4900 calories compared to your base level, which means on average, you get an extra 700 calories a day. So, by comparison, an extra 700 calories. That’s almost another meal for some people. So you get the advantage of being able to eat more.
[00:02:05] Now, does that mean you can eat whatever you want? Like recently, I’ve gotten into craft chocolate making. So, like, you know, a chocolate bar. Can you eat this? Yes. Is it going to fuel you? Arguably, no. You can’t use that kind of stuff for — there’s some that’s dark chocolate. So there are some health benefits there with the things that are in dark chocolate.
[00:02:32] But I don’t know that you can argue like, let’s just eat a bunch of junk. And there are plenty of people that talk about kind of this eat anything diet or the idea that if the fire is hot enough, it’ll burn anything. That if you just go out and eat anything and you’ll be fine just as long as you get the calories in.
[00:02:54] People talking about going from like high school collegiate level to trying to turn pro and just not being able to make it without really overhauling their diet to have a lot more nutrition in it as compared to just eating whatever. And though I was never a pro runner, I did try to become a pro triathlete. I got very close. My story’s been told on this channel a number of times, but it involves lots of training, 15 to 20 hours of training a week, lots of eating.
[00:03:23] And I’ll be the first to admit that I definitely had to clean up my dialog. And I still have to because, I mean, you know, chocolate, like who doesn’t like chocolate? I like making chocolate. I like making ice cream. I like these things. But you have to be careful because those don’t necessarily fuel you. It’s great to have a treat.
[00:03:43] And many, many people have treats, especially after races when you’ve been working really hard. But when you have to figure out what to eat and you have no basis of history in that, it’s difficult. I know that over the years when I made these decisions, like, okay, I want to clean up my diet, I want to eat better, I’ll go, “Okay, I’m not going to” whatever, say like ice cream. I used to eat a ton of ice cream as a kid. Say, okay, I’m going to not ice cream anymore.
[00:04:16] Well, what did you replace it with? In my case, when I didn’t have a history of eating something else, then I just lost those calories. And then you fall off the wagon. So I see it as a figuring out, number one, what are you going to do? And then what are you replacing? Like, what are you taking that thing and replacing it with? So it’s always good to look to people that have done this before and have some kind of idea.
[00:04:47] And that’s why there is a great book that any of my guests on the Smart Athlete Podcast that focus on food or running tend to talk about this particular book and that is Run Fast, Eat Slow. This is Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky or Kopecky. I’m sorry, Elyse, I probably pronouncing your last name wrong. I’m good at that.
[00:05:12] So Shalane and Elyse, in this go through a lot of the things that Shalane eats, a lot of those recipes that she goes to. And there’s such a varied, wide and varied diet in this book, things that if you grew up with food, like I grew up with where we joked about, it’s yellow meal number three, where it’s like carbs and carbs and carbs and cheese and just it can get you by.
[00:05:43] But like, I didn’t grow up with a wide variety, very diet. So it’s like part of it. It’s learning to try new things, figuring out new flavors, which you like and taking one step at a time. But this is such a great resource because it gives you a peek into like what are some good things to try? And now I know I’ve gotten off a little bit here on the do runners eat a lot, but food is so central to our existence as athletes.
[00:06:16] I think it’s worth talking about because the short version is, yes, I mean, we eat a lot, but we need to eat well. So I kind of gotten into a diatribe here of like, how do we eat well when we don’t know how to eat well? And that is a tricky situation to get around. Again, check out books like this, check out blogs for recipes.
[00:06:43] And then one of the things that I’ve spoken to dietitians on the Smart Athlete Podcast, again here on this channel comes out on Fridays. Hit that subscribe button if you want to check that out. When I talk to registered dietitians, it’s almost always like we’re not going to make you eat a particular thing.
[00:06:57] Like like in my case, I used to hate broccoli. It would make me gag. Now my wife makes broccoli. Now I think it’s delicious. I’m glad that that’s something I can eat now because it’s really good for you. But if I still contain like if I still had that aversion. All registered dietitians basically say, don’t eat that. Don’t. There’s so many options of good things.
[00:07:21] Take the time and be patient with it. But also, one of the suggestions that they give in terms of getting to quality over just quantity and just getting calories in is don’t try to replace everything overnight. I wish I remembered who I had this conversation with, but one of the suggestions was like, if you’re trying to clean up your diet, say you eat two Snickers bars a day.
[00:07:45] Maybe you don’t, but let’s say you do. Maybe the first thing you do is just say, okay, I’m going to only one Snickers bar a day and you replace the other Snickers with something from Shalane and Elyse’s book. Some kind of Snack in here or on the Solpri blog. We had a registered dietitian that used to make recipes for us. She’s made some interesting snack recipes over time. Those are good go-tos to try.
[00:08:10] Maybe you don’t like that thing. Try something else. And then once you’ve replaced that one item, go on to the next thing. And much like running, consistency over time breeds results. So if you’re consistent in making these small changes, you don’t get this shock to your system that kind of crash dieters go on and eventually you get to a place where you’re having so much more quality in your diet that you’re going to perform better as a result.
[00:08:40] So obviously, yes, runners eat a lot, but quality matters, too. So if you want to check out the book from Shalane, we have a link down below, you can pick it up on Amazon. If you have any questions for me, leave them in the comments. Happy to make a video just for you. I’ll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.