Everybody Can Run.

Everybody Can Eat.

Can you eat for your Running?

As a Sports Nutritionist, I often see people investing in the whole gamut of gear and training. This becomes the Holy Grail or should I say the Trail of most runners. Lost is the vision of eating to fuel the very engines that make you RUN – YOUR MUSCLES?

(OR OR OR…. When working with athletes we train them to EAT. Actually we train them to eat whilst TRAINING! Most recreational runners do not focus on the NUTRITION component and are only keenly in love with the Shoes, Gear, Running stride or program.)

The most important point for anybody who runs is the fact that you need to fuel your muscles to carry you the distance. The human body is designed to run for a period before you tire out. When you TIRE out, it is the safety mechanism of the human body to shut you down so that you don’t destroy all your reserves, or your body.

As one progresses into training the focus is how do I run quicker and smoother in a given time frame. Most runners look at the CLOCK. I say look at the SCALE. Then looking at your fueling.

A weighing scale is determinant to whether you’re losing mass or gaining mass. In a runners case both are determinant. Let me explain. The weight in the human body is Muscle, Fat, Bones and Water. When you lose, you tend to lose mostly water and muscle, fat not so easily…When you gain weight as a runner, it’s mostly fat.

Why? Because when you stress the body…Running or any exercise releases the stress inducing hormones chiefly Cortisol that causes the body to store more reserves of FAT post the training or exercising event. This is what we sports nutritionists dread when we see clients walking in after 8 weeks of hard training. LOSS OF MUSCLE and GAIN OF FAT.

Therefore it’s very important to first measure your Muscle and Fat percentages in your body weight, before you set out to buy those shoes. Once done, you need to tune your nutrition or YOUR DIET to the regime of running. Calories will be burnt, so will muscle. So in order to maintain both you need to balance out your nutrition.

So the basics in nutrition should be

1. How much of Carbohydrates should I take per day? ( this is your energy giving foods)

2. How much of Protein should I eat per day and when? ( Protein preserves muscle tissue and recovery is ensured)

3. How much of Healthy fats do I need? ( back up reserves and crucial for key hormones in sports performance)

4. How much of water do I consume ( given that over 60% of the body is water and sweat is the most noticeable molecule being lost when running)

When working on the Guinness world record of Non-stop Aerobics of 26 hrs, I was privy to biochemical data of the exercising muscle. This helped me understand exercise physiology from the perspective of how DO I MAKE THE MUSCLE GO ON AND ON….

Whilst going for the record I observed that muscle can be fed whilst training. In doing so you can delay the loss of glycogen, breakdown of muscle tissue (catabolism) and actually push the muscle to endure.


A few factual points to note.


1. You have carbohydrates that give you energy. 1 gram of carbohydrate gives you 4Kcal of Energy. Understand carbs well and you can go on and on.

2. Many GLUCOSE (basic unit of Carbs) molecules combine together give you GLYCOGEN.

3. GLYCOGEN IS STORED within the muscle strands (like mini petrol tanks) and in the LIVER.

4. GLYCOGEN’s best friend is WATER. I molecule of glycogen holds 3 molecules of water. (Think Hydrated muscle is a well fed muscle. First Carbs and that attracts water)

5. SO to load up your mini tanks you need to Glycogen load or CARBO LOAD during the day.

6. Consuming a Carb GEL or Sports Drink during a run and actually at the start allows your blood reserves also to be topped up, delaying the inevitable depletion of muscle glycogen.

7. You actually use your blood pool reserves whilst calling out to your mini Tank reserves as you run. SO Sipping whilst you run maybe a good strategy, but TRAIN YOUR STOMACH to accept this first. DO not start on race day directly.

On Protein

1. Protein is considered the basic building blocks, actually called Amino Acids. Muscle contains 60% Glutamine and 30% BCAA (Branched Amino Acids). These are the most important from a fuelling and recovery perspective. (60% is Glutamine and 30% Is BCAA. (YOU CAN MAKE A PICTURE OF A MUSCLE AND SHOW HOW these 4 amino acids make up most of your muscle)

2. Ideally a runner needs 1.5 Gms per Kg body weight of protein. So if you’re 60 Kgs in weight you need 90 Gms of proteins in splits consumed through the day.

3. Post training its best to give about 25 Gms of protein for recovery.

Most vegetarian’s will struggle to meet their daily requirement and should supplement with a good quality protein.

On fats

1. The Indian diet is in love with Fats.

2. Moderation is the key. Use measured Quantities in dishes or USE An OIL SPRAY which reduces oil use by a whopping tenfold!

3. Look to get the healthy oils from Nuts – Almonds, walnuts, pistachios etc.

4. Olive oil drizzled on your salads or a teaspoon added to your vegetable juice

5. Rice Bran, Ground Nut and mustard oil can be interspersed in different dishes through the week to get a spectrum.

6. MCT or medium chain triglycerides are consumed by elite runners. Coconut Oil and Ghee is Quantities of about 1-2 Teaspoons per day is the max I recommend. Here it’s best to get advised by a nutritionist whilst looking at your blood work and lipid (fat) profile.


So my secrets are:

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1. Make sure you eat a hearty carbohydrate meal. I believe SOUP made with Pasta and macaroni at 7 pm is perfect. At 8 pm ;Brown Rice or Potatoes with a Protein and a salad is perfect. A traditional Indian Pulao with Paneer also should work well. A bowl of curd to stabilise the stomach.

2. Before Bed 3-4 Prunes help add fibre so that you emptying your Bowels…. A DUMP is easier and makes you lighter………. before you run the next day.


1. Most people run on an empty stomach. You will burn muscle. Coffee helps activate the fat burning cycle. Add a small bowl of Oats or Ragi Biscuits with a Banana to jump start your run. Do it at least 30 mins prior so you’re not feeling squishy when the run starts.


The TRAIN TO EAT whilst you TRAIN TO RUN is the mantra that I propagated.

1. Practice your run midway with a banana or 2-3 dates or 2-3 figs or a handful of DRIED berries.

2. Consume about 300 ml of Sports drink or a Sports Gel as you run. Under 5 Kms you don’t need it. Over 5 km, it’s about training to eat for the longer runs. This may be difficult so I suggest to a lot of my clients to have the fluid pouch or backpack or at the turns ( strategically loop) park your vehicle with this stuff , for a quick 30 sec stop over. Stop, Grab, Eat, Wash down, continue to RUN. This will go a long way for novice runners to pushing their body without damage.


This is the HOLY GRAIL of sports nutrition. Post run you need a ratio of 4:1 of carbs to protein. So here is the critical part – TIME.

Post run there is a 120 minutes of RECOVERY WINDOW. If Nutrition is not given properly at this time, the muscle goes into breakdown mode for the next few hours.

Anybody who runs needs to fuel within 5-10 mins when the Run is finished.

If you provide around 25gms of protein with about 100 Gms of carbs post run you will see recovery faster than when you don’t.

Over the years My team of Sports nutritionist and me have helped runners break barriers in their personal best. Some of my team are runners themselves.

Personally I dont run. I have a bad knee. I ran a long time ago. But I did help a lady break the GUINNESS WORLD RECORD OF NON_STOP AEROBICS of 26hrs.

Ryan Fernando is an Award-winning celebrity Sports Nutritionist with 2GUINNESS world record and 2 Olympic medals under his belt. His client list include Olympic wrestler Sushil Kumar, cricketer Shikhar Dhawan & bollywood superstars Aamir Khan & Abhishek Bachchan. He is Chief Nutritionist at QUA Nutrition Signature Clinics.

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