As a sprinter, you have the need for speed. While training is important when trying to rev up your 400-meter dash, so is your diet. What you eat improves performance, as well as recovery. A 400-meter runner's diet is aimed at keeping you lean and strong by focusing on healthy carbs, lean proteins and good-for-you fats.
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Carbs for Energy
Although your carb needs aren't as heavy as an endurance runner, they should still be the focus of your diet. Carbs provide your muscles with the energy they need for a strong sprint and should provide more than half your daily calorie needs. To up the nutritional quality of your diet, include nutrient-rich carbs such as whole-grain breads and cereals, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products.
Protein and Fat
A good sprinter is muscular and lean, but that doesn't mean you need to load up on protein and skimp on fat. Both nutrients are an important part of the 400-meter diet. Adequate protein helps repair and strengthen muscle, while fat acts as another source of energy. A diet that is too high in protein and too low in fat may hinder your performance by affecting muscle strength. Poultry, seafood and soy foods are good sources of protein and healthy fat.
Meals for Training
When training for your 400-meter dash, it's important to eat regularly -- three meals a day plus snacks -- to keep energy levels up. Meals should include a mix of carbohydrates, protein and fat to make sure you're getting the nutrients you need for health and performance. For example, a healthy sprinter's breakfast might include a bowl of whole-grain cereal topped with a banana and low-fat milk. For lunch, you might enjoy tuna stuffed into a whole-wheat pita with a glass of orange juice and low-fat yogurt. A healthy dinner option might include grilled chicken, a baked sweet potato and steamed broccoli. After practice, replenish energy stores with a healthy carb snack such as fruit or yogurt within 30 minutes of finishing.
Meals on Competition Days
On competition days, meals are aimed at helping maintain energy levels and hydration while preventing hunger and abdominal distress. A high-carb meal with a little protein, such as peanut butter on toast, three to four hours before your meet is a good way to start. Hydrate and re-energize with a fruit smoothie or a bowl of cereal with milk one to two hours prior to competition. Drink plenty of water before and after your sprint to maintain hydration, especially if you're running in hot weather.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: How to Eat Right for Sports and Performance
- Australian Government: Australian Sports Commission: AIS Sports Nutrition: Sprinting
- Colorado State University Extension: Nutrition for the Athlete
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Protein and the Athlete: How Much Do You Need?
- MedlinePlus: Nutrition and Athletic Performance