Runners, like myself, are always looking for ways to get more energy. Of course, the obvious approach is to cut out many high sugary foods, and eat healthier and blah blah blah. We’ve all heard that before. But I must emphasize that foods high in refined sugar are deeply connected to sugar-crash fatigue.
Even though for many, it’s difficult to give up pop and cookies, there is nothing wrong with relying and falling back on healthy, natural, researched-back supplements that provides good blood sugar control and thus, protection against blood sugar crash fatigue.
If you don’t want to give up the ‘bad’ carbs, below I list study-backed natural supplements that were found to succeed, to a surprising extent, at stabilizing blood sugar dips and give off lasting energy.
Getting More Energy for Running Long Distances: Natural Blood Sugar Control
FIRSTLY, let me briefly discuss the physiology behind the causation of blood sugar spikes and how your body works to normalize blood sugar levels. Normally when you eat, especially when you eat foods or snacks high in refined sugar, your blood sugar shoots up very high. This forces your pancreas to work over-time to reduce these blood sugar surges. Over time, eating high sugary foods can put a lot premature mileage on the pancreas, impairing its function.
There is a ton of scientific evidence which draws a straight line to blood sugar spikes to fatigue, so keep that in mind, because when your blood sugar levels are all over the place, it can really screw up your running performance. You will function better as a runner and go the distance when your blood sugar levels aren’t spiking all over the place.
Grapefruit Seed Extract
One way to help normalize blood sugar levels and outsmart sugar crashes, so you have lasting energy for running is with grapefruit seed extract. According to research in the Journal of Pharmacognosy, taking 125-mg of grapefruit seed extract actually produced real results with stabilizing blood sugar. Grapefruit seed extract works by slowing carbohydrate absorption in your intestines (Kar et al. 2009), and this helps steady blood sugar.
Vitamin D is a good basis for balancing blood sugar. According to research in Nutrition Research, taking at least 420-IU of vitamin D3 per day improves insulin sensitivity and sugar levels to a large extent where it could greatly reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. In addition, vitamin D improves blood-sugar level regulation and the body’s responses to insulin by improving the function of your hypothalamus, a tiny gland with a BIG role in regulating most biological functions.
Eat More Protein for Post-Run Food
Another thing you can do is eat a high protein snack, like a tablespoon of peanut butter or a hard-boiled egg, before consuming a heavy meal.
Instead of eating garlic bread or cheese buns before your post-run meal, try eating either a heaping tablespoon of peanut butter, or a hard-boiled egg because according to the journal of Gut, doing so has a double corrective effect on the pancreas, making it more capable of producing healing hormones which fits so nicely into the role of helping runners get on the right track when it comes to weight-loss.
Eating protein as an appetizer instead of carbs actually makes you eat less supper. And, there is a lot of evidence showing that eating more protein is absolutely essential for stopping blood sugar dips and giving you more energy at the pancreatic level. Therefore, protein does have an enormous impact on blood sugar, and therefore energy. Make protein a big part of your post-run meal because it sets the blood-sugar parameters that encourages less snacking and over-eating and more energy!
You can make more energy progress for running by incorporating flaxseed into your diet as flaxseeds steady blood sugar by detoxifying your pancreas. Flaxseeds are extremely high in lignans which are plant compounds that whisk away toxins trapped in the pancreas. According to Canadian research, eating 2 tablespoons of ground flax daily will boost your energy levels via nourishing your pancreas.
Just like other organs in the body, fat can get stored in the pancreas whereby too much fat buildup can have adverse effects on pancreatic function, resulting in wacky blood sugar levels. Eating more berries will reverse blood sugar problems by turning your pancreas into a fat burning engine. According to the journal Diabetes Care, eating 1 cup of fresh or frozen berries a day will spark your pancreas to burn more fat inside the pancreas. In fact, their research found a 30% increase in fat burn in the pancreas when you eat 1 cup of berries on a daily basis.
Take Home Message
You will produce better results if you have healthy blood sugar as blood sugar levels and mental/physical energy goes hand-in-hand. Make your best efforts to try the above. Runners like myself are always looking for new ways to stay more energized, but the hard truth is that you have to eat a little better to run better, and the research data is a great reminder of how important eating healthy is in strengthening your overall health and running performance.
Kar et al. Effects of grape seed extract in Type 2 diabetic subjects at high cardiovascular risk: a double blind randomized placebo controlled trial examining metabolic markers, vascular tone, inflammation, oxidative stress and insulin sensitivity. Diabetic Medicine, 2009; 26(5):526-531.
BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.