Running and being a Vegetarian

Running and being a Vegetarian


I was hoping that you could help me with a problem that I’m encountering in my work outs.  I’ve recently signed up to do my local Race For Life and its my first ever race.  I followed your 5k running plan last year from May and I now have a time of around 40 minutes for the 5k on flat ground.  My goal is to complete the race in 30 minutes or less as I really want to push myself and make it a challenge as I have some friends who have been diagnosed with breast cancer in the past year and to do something easy doesn’t seem quite right.

The problem I have is that I cut down on my carbohydrates to lose some weight and I lost what I wanted, but recently I’ve noticed that I really struggle to complete my running workouts and my instructor said that this was down to dropping the carbohydrates.  When I asked for some advice on how to reintroduce carbohydrates without gaining the weight I’d lost, he started to tell me about protein supplements and that as a vegetarian I’ll always have a problem with my body storing fat.  Now I’m totally confused.

My training at the moment is two sessions a week in the gym and I alternate this between interval training on an incline of 1%, a distance run of 5k on the same incline and a hill climb which I never seem to complete the required distance on.  I’ve been training since January and I thought that by now I’d be finding things a little easier, but I’m not, I’m really struggling.  I also go ice skating once a week with a half hour lesson one week, and half hour practice session the next.

My diet is mostly the same with a 0% fat Greek yoghurt with pecans and almonds with vanilla essence for breakfast, either a caser salad with almonds instead of croutons or a mandarin salad with Quorn or a bowl of soup for lunch and then an evening meal of whatever mum cooks (always involves some kind of protein but can be carbohydrate heavy).  On the days I go to the gym I also have a banana in the afternoon.  Is there anything you could suggest either diet or fitness wise that I could do to improve my results as I really don’t want to feel like I’m going to pass out or am exhausted half way through my run.   Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.

Natalie Answer:

Hi Natalie

Vegetarianism can be a challenge for anyone undertaking exercise or training. Your trainer is right to recommend a protein supplement as it sounds as if you have a fairly low amount of it. If you eat eggs you could consider having a poached egg on wholemeal toast for breakfast every second day and adding some more types of nuts and seeds to your yoghurt breakfast – this will provide added nutrients, oils and proteins.

An issue I see almost every day is that of people forgetting that carbohydrates are not only made of wheat! Rice (brown is better as it isn’t refined as white), millet, quinoa, oats are all very good grains to eat that are usually not as refined as wheat, providing good quality carbs. The more a grain is refined the less nutrients and natural satiating or ‘filling’ components it will have  – so you will eat more of it, and potentially put on weight. If you cannot seem to get enough energy firstly think if you have enough varied foods to gain the amount of nutrients required – its appears you do not. Either you will need to increase your food content or take a multivitamin and mineral supplement. Best regards,

Emma Wight-Boycott MSc Nutr (2009), PGDip Nutr, PGcACNEM, Dip. Sc Nutr

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