Should Women Runners Eat Like Men?

women runnersWomen runners differ from their male counterparts in both caloric and carbohydrate requirement.

When running the same distance, men burn more calories than women due to their higher muscle mass and less fat.

In addition to burning more calories when running, men utilize more carbs as fuel than women, even when running the same distance.  Therefore, women runners need fewer carbs than men.

To find out exactly how much of each you need and precisely how to get it ……

A man training 40-45 kms (25-30 miles) per week requires 19-21 calories per pound of body weight.  A 180 lb man should consume approximately 3600 calories daily.  A woman running the same weekly mileage requires 17-19 calories per pound of body weight.  Therefore, a 140 lb woman needs about 2500 calories daily to fuel her activity.

Women runners need approximately three grams of carbs per pound of body weight daily (men need four).  That’s 420 grams of carbs daily for a 140 lb woman.  According to renowned sports nutritionist Liz Applegate, Ph.D., nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily accompanied by seven servings of grains (preferably whole) will meet your daily carbohydrate requirements, with the added benefit of 25 grams of fibre.

Initially, these numbers may seem disconcerting.  Remember that we runners have different nutritional requirements than the sedentary populations.  We require adequate amount of carbs to fuel our increased energy requirements.  Runners who are attempting to lose weight succeed due to their increased caloric expenditure.  Restricting carbohydrates may work for the sedentary population but is counterproductive for runners.

Case in point:  A number of years ago, Bennett was responsible for much of the family cooking.  Pasta was a fixture on the family menu.  Not surprisingly, the sedentary family members began to gain weight while his running improved.

Restricting food intake, thereby not ingesting adequate amounts of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats will result in losing muscle strength, slower running, overall weakness, increased susceptibility to infection and a host of other physical issues.  Fuelling for running is about making wise food choices – 90% of the time.  It’s OK to go crazy the other 10%.

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3 Responses to Should Women Runners Eat Like Men?
  1. Patricia Ward
    July 15, 2015 | 7:08 am

    Just what I needed to near for my ironman training

  2. Patricia Ward
    July 15, 2015 | 7:09 am

    Thanks good tip on carbs

  3. Bennett Cohen
    July 26, 2015 | 8:26 pm

    Glad you found the article helpful. Good luck in your ironman

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