Are you a running sugar addict?
Have you noticed that with running your sugar cravings have increased?
You’re feeling frustrated that you blast out an awesome 10k only to find yourself later on the sofa with a packet of biscuits? You know it’s not the best way to refuel but hey, you’ve just run your arse off for the last hour – surely you deserve it?
If you suspect you’re a running sugar fiend (like I was!) then today let’s work through what’s going on here and start to identify what action can help you control your cravings, feel happier with yourself and help you increase your performance.
1) Know that running can make your sugar cravings worse
Running (or for that matter any extended form of exercise) really can have a significant impact on your sugar cravings and play into the lack of control you now feel around sweet stuff. I know this because a) it happened to myself and b) a very high percentage of my clients are runners who find themselves with an insatiable sweet tooth (or a strong friendship with old Mr Haribo).
This is for a number of reasons…
Firstly, when you run your body needs extra energy, and when the urge hits you can be prone to crave the quickest source of food fuel available aka sugar in all its guises. Just being aware of this, you need to make sure you’re fuelling your body with a good source of energy beforehand so you don’t fall into the ‘give me anything I can get my hands on as soon as possible’ desperation.
Secondly, running burns off sugar calories. You don’t see the physical impact of them on your body, therefore it feels ok to refuel with whatever you want right? The danger here is that over time your palate accustoms itself to love all things sweet, thus cravings arise to haunt you much more than you’d like. It also goes without saying that sugar can damage your insides and do all sorts of other things that you can’t see or feel.
Just being honest with yourself here and observing your sugar habits around running and re-fuelling with sweetness is the first positive action to counteract the cravings. I was in denial myself for a while which just made my sugar habit worse.
2) Acknowledge your lack of control needs a different approach
You finish a race and your running pal gulps down a drink or energy bar. They however later pass on dessert (how can people do that!!??) and you know they don’t feel the daily need for sugar in the same way you do (it’s not fair!!). This is where you need to acknowledge that your relationship with sugar and sugary food is at a more unhealthy stage for you than the average Joe…and that’s OK. You’re not alone and you can do something about it. It’s important socially to recognise that others can use sugar and control their intake more than you because they’re in a different place with it (realising and accepting this will also stop you preaching – a big social no no!).
Again, be honest with yourself here and accept the fact that you possibly need to focus for a period of time on taming your sweet tooth and to do this you may need to adjust your running nutrition in a more personalised way to do so.
3) There are ways around this (watch sugar devil telling you otherwise!)
You perhaps feel like you have no choice – you have to drink that energy gel/eat that energy bar or you’ll pass out. You need those jelly beans because you’re tired. Running far and wide can provide you with almost guilt-free excuses to eat the sweet stuff – so watch that subconscious sugar pusher on your shoulder here. Yes sometimes you might need a little sweetness but, actually, there are other lower sugar alternatives you can opt for and it’s often the case you don’t need as much as you think you do.
A quick guide to help you
Recently I interviewed Jeff Gaudette, a professional runner coach who is the mastermind behind Boston Based www.runnersconnect.net. I’ve condensed some of his expert running nutrition knowledge and my practical coaching 4-pillar approach around working with sugar slave runners to create a quick Runners Guide to Sugar that will build further on this post. Enter your details on this page to get yours and start lower sugar post-run snack swapping!
The rest of the interview will be part of a new runners’ resource in Mentor Me Off Sugar. If you’re not already on the Front of Queue list for this, get on it now and 2015 could see you sort the sugar and smash your personal best. The Facebook forum has a whole feed dedicated to sweet-toothed runners (who have seen their performance improve during the programme) and I’m currently working on some helpful resources around recipes and protein powders.
What about you?
Have sweet cravings got worse or better with running? Do you find they are stronger at certain points? Have you found any great low sugar snacks that you can share to help others. Leave a comment below and share your insight.