Bariatric Eating for 5K Training
A bariatric dietitian’s thoughts on a common post-op question
I am commonly asked by members to Bariatric Food Coach asking how to change their diet while training for a 5k. Here is an email I received this week!
“I’m a current member and was sleeved May, 2021. I’m currently training for a 5k and it will be at the end of April. I wanted to know what kind of foods/nutrition should I eat up till the race and what I can use to refuel.”
Below is my response to her question. I wanted to post it here so I could refer others to this post when the question surely comes up again! This is also a great reason to touch base with your program dietitian to create a personalized eating plan.
This is such a great question. I am training for a 5k myself so I understand the tricky balance!
The biggest key is staying hydrated. Start with water as soon as you’re up and keep it with you through the day.
Next is to add a little carbohydrate to fuel your higher heart rate activity of running. Complex carbohydrates are a good way to do that because they provide the extra glucose without the more addictive properties of simple carbs.
An example would be adding fruit to your protein based meal instead of adding white potatoes to your pot of stew. It usually doesn’t require a lot of complex carb for 5k training but listen to your body if you feel shaky or a headache coming (and it’s not water related).
Ideally you can time your meals in a way that you can refuel without adding in extra snacks, which can be a hard habit to break later. For example, if you do training runs in the morning you can drink water while you rest and recover your heart rate and then enjoy breakfast with a protein plus a carb. An example might be fruit with an omelette (I like to bake egg cups ahead of time to make it quick).
If the natural schedule doesn’t work out to eat a meal after a run, a protein bar is a good option that has the protein + carbohydrate paired together. Anytime you have a carbohydrate rich food, eat it with a protein source to prevent blood sugar spikes and drops. (Ex: fruit + cheese/egg/deli meat)
As for race day, again start early with water and I personally like to have a protein bar 90 minutes before my run. Take the water stop(s) and hydrate. Typically you won’t need anything food/energy wise during a 5k compared to half marathon or marathon runners. After the run if they offer fruit at the finish line you could enjoy that and if you have someone meeting you at the finish you can have them bring a peanut butter cup or a cheese stick to pair with the fruit.
Also make plans for a meal as soon as you head out (we often go out for breakfast and I will get omelette/eggs with a side of fruit).
I hope that helps a little! There is also a (members) video course on Exercise and the Bariatric Diet. There are a couple short videos that help explain a few key things!