• Helen Phillips

How to align your Diet with your Training ... Simple solutions to avoid those "Monday Munchies&


If you’re using a plan to train for your next 10k, half or marathon, or whether you’re just exercising for fun, some days you’re hard at it and other days it’s a day of complete rest.

But do you ever, even on complete rest days, get the uncontrollable munchies? You try to ignore the growling signals … but around at 9pm can’t take it any more and succumb to eating “the entire fridge”!

Good! I’m not alone!

It always used to be Mondays. I’d start of the week with good intentions, taking a bunch of bananas into work to snack on. But around about 9:30 on a Monday morning my daily banana was quaffed and I was heading to the nearest Pret for coffee and cake! You see my body was craving calories (and not really the “cake sort”) as I’d burned through a heap the previous day marathon long run training.

If you’re burning up calories super fast … you need to replenish them … to get back on it for your next hard training session.

I had that crazy dieter mindset. Food was bad. I was in control. I could do this. And I was a super goddess with power over my cravings. Only starting marathon training I wasn’t a dieter any longer … I was an “athlete” in training. And athletes need to fuel and feed their bodies for better performance and recovery.

Sounds familiar?

Yes! If you want to lose a bit of weight of course you need to cut down on calories. But if you’re exercising hard, you also need to makes sure that you fuel your body with the right nutrition. In my experience denying yourself “replenishment carbs” usually only leads to “cake splurges”, which can be much more calorific than the carbs denied and at worst more so than the exercise that burnt the calories in the first place!

And that my friends, is why it’s so easy to put on weight when you up your training!

There is a solution. Matching your diet to your training schedule. Sounds simple. It is. But how many of us actually do this?

What and how much you eat each day should be different depending upon the type and intensity of training you’re doing that day. Think of having different types of daily meal plan like you have different types of training session.

It doesn’t mean that you have to go crazy and have completely different foods on a heavy training day. Rather including more higher carbohydrate and protein based meals and snacks into your diet on those days.

To train effectively, especially for a long run or bike ride, your body needs to be well fuelled with carbohydrate before you head out. Just like your car needs a full tank of petrol to complete a long journey. So to make sure you’re fuelled up eat a carbohydrate snack, such as a banana or bagel, about 1 – 2 hours before you head out the door. Then once you’re done, you need to refuel and help your body recover.

Exercise, such as running, makes small tears to your muscles, so make sure your main meal that day includes good quality protein, as well as carbohydrate and loads of veggies for free radical mopping up antioxidants.

But what about meals on rest days or an easy training day?

Well those days you’re going to need to eat fewer calories, as your energy expenditure will be lower.

Again, let’s not start crafting special diets for these days, rather looking to see how you can eat less, especially less carbohydrate and fat dense foods which would provide extra calories, which would ultimately be stored as fat.

So on these days I usually avoid carbohydrate snacks (so long bagel … it was nice knowing you!), increase the amount of protein I eat as well as loading up on fruit and my favorite vegetables.

It’s taken me a while, but I find listening to my bodys hunger signals, rather than reaching for food out of habit, is the best way to work out whether I’m under or over eating during training.

Whilst I sometimes don’t want to eat a big meal after a long run I make sure that I do eat. Instead of a plate brimming over with food, that I won’t have the appetite for, I’ll have a normal sized Sunday dinner, but then have a guilty free top up snack later. That way Long Run Sunday doesn’t become Eat Cake Monday!

If you’d like further help with your nutrition and diet to support your training click here for information about One to One coaching and online programmes that could help you achieve amazing results.