Understand the Glycemic Index to Improve Running

Do you find yourself struggling with energy levels during a run? Do you occasionally feel lightheaded or nauseous during running? Do you want to maximize your recovery after a run? One of the best ways to boost your energy and improve recovery is to understand the glycemic index.

The glycemic index assigns a number within the range of 0-100 for various types of foods based on the rate that glucose is released into the body. This rate is critical because the body’s muscles need glucose in order to run.

A high glycemic index number means that the specific food will release glucose quickly into your blood stream. A low glycemic index number means that the food will release glucose at a slower and more steady rate.

The general rule is that it is important to eat foods with a low GI number prior to a run. The idea is that these foods will give you a stable supply of glucose for the entire duration of your run. After a run, it is important to eat foods with a high glycemic index number in order to quickly release glucose into your system and allow muscles to recover.

The following is list of common foods and with their GI index:

Classification GI Range Examples
Low GI 55 or less Beans, sunflower seeds, vegetables, peaches, strawberries, mangos
Medium GI 56-69 Pita bread, basmati rice, grape juice, raisins, prunes, banana
High GI 70 and above White bread, white rice, corn flakes, breakfast cereals, potato, pretzels
Source: Wikipedia

Understanding the glycemic index and eating the appropriate foods as part of your pre and post run routines can do wonders for your running.

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