We’re human. And humans often struggle when implementing change, being creatures of habit and all.

It’s important to remember that regardless of the change being made – starting a training schedule, new sleep routine or dietary changes, you will face struggles. Simply by being aware of them means you can better prepare for them and plan to overcome them!

Firstly, training and nutrition go hand in hand – if you’re looking for real results, you really need to include both. Highlighted below are common struggles for people looking to optimize their diet for running and simple ways to fix them.

Trying to change everything at once

This is a very common struggle – and the one that can quickly cause everything to fall apart; often when one thing fails, they all fall down. List the things you’re most likely to be challenged by and identify the solution. Then plan to conquer them one at a time.

New routines take time to take hold and adapt to your surroundings – this is key for a successful setup. Once you have got it into a routine with one of them, start with the next one.

Keep in mind when we’re super motivated, we’re more likely to overestimate our capability of changing – and motivation goes up and down, so taking on too much at one time can be more challenging than necessary.

Restricting yourself too much

With dietary change, it’s common to be too restrictive with ourselves. In truth, you don’t have to stop eating anything (within reason), you simply need to be more aware of when you’re eating.

Naturally, nutrient-rich foods are the best choice, but when trying to optimize your training, it’s also a lot about when you eat things. Eating a heavy, greasy meal before training is less than ideal – you’ll likely have gastrointestinal issues during the session or worse: a short session.

Fill your plate with foods that suit your diet and you’ll automatically put less of the things that don’t suit your plan.  

Don’t have time / lack of planning

Ah – the time issue. It’s always an issue. The truth (even if you don’t want to hear it) is that  planning can actually save you time and minimize your struggles.

So what’s our best tips for successful planning?
– Take some time at the start of the week to think about your training schedule and plan your meals around that.
– Do your grocery shopping for the whole week
– Meal prep (meal prepping is gold in our minds for saving time)
– When you’re on the go, take a snack along for a pre-training energy boost.

Going for a diet that is not adapted to exercise

Browsing on the internet can be more confusing than helpful. Knowing how to best combine diet with exercise can be a tough one (that’s why we’re here to help!).

Currently, carbohydrates have a pretty bad reputation. Yes, carbs can be nutrient-poor and energy-rich, but there are sources of carbs that are loaded with nutrients and energy – it’s these carbs we need more of when training!  

If you have a less-active lifestyle, you can benefit from reducing nutrient-poor carbs from your diet. But people who train hard need more carbs, since carbs are used primarily as fuel, especially in high-intensity training. So always aim for a carb source on the plate, especially pre- and post-workout.

Changing your meal order

Did your previous diet include skipping breakfast, not eating regularly or lacking in regular meal order?

Meal order is central when training. It is essential to eat regularly and time your meals around your sessions. This might be a challenge at first – you may not feel hungry when you’re “supposed to” on the new diet. We recommend 2-3 larger meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and 2-4 snacks per day, depending on your sessions.

Keep track of your new habits of eating more regularly for a while and it will be completely worth it the adjustment.

Eating too little

It can actually become quite hard to eat enough if your training is super heavy – you train hard, you need to eat more, you burn more. With a large energy deficit you risk breaking down your muscles, slow recovery, and lack energy during your training sessions, so eating enough is essential

If you’re finding it hard to know how much you need to eat to reach your energy requirements, tracking with Lifesum is a great tool. There you will see what you need to eat in order to be in energy balance and what macronutrient ratios (protein, carbs and fat) your body needs.

Note: if your aim is weight loss combined with training on a high level, make sure you seek advice from a nutritionist/ dietitian.

Drinking too little

A lot of people struggle with drinking enough. When you drink more, you need to go to the toilet more often – which a lot of people experience as a burden. Believe me, the extra toilet visits are well worth it in the long run!

Fluid balance is key for many functions in the body (i.e. digestion, transport of substances, temperature regulation, blood pressure). It makes sense to be able to train hard, you need to drink more to stay in fluid balance.

Also, remember to drink more during training; you’ll lose fluids from sweat and temperature regulation. Your thirst signals can be misleading at times, so if remembering to drink is a struggle, simply keep a water bottle nearby!

How do you know you drink enough?  Check out the color of your urine, it should be light, light yellow. If it’s not, you need to drink more!

Last but not least, it is simply a human thing to struggle when starting or changing a diet, so be kind to yourself!

Kajsa holds a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics from Umeå University, Sweden. Having worked as a Clinical Dietitian with a focus on dietary treatments for both individuals and groups, Kajsa now supports the Lifesum team in providing professional and evidence-based interventions to users. Kajsa is a self-confessed training nerd and admits her greatest passions are anything to do with food, science and health.

All posts by Kajsa Ernestam