Ingalena Schömburg-Heuck
Ingalena Schömburg-Heuck

Series on running with top trainer Ingalena Heuck: The right diet in winter

Running is more than just movement – it is a fitness and wellness program for body and mind. This is especially true in winter. In the second episode of our five-part series, Ingalena Schömburg-Heuck kicks off the year by explaining the perfect diet for runners.

A woman eats a piece of paprika
You should observe the 5-a-day rule, that is 3 portions of vegetables and 2 portions of fruit.

People consume an average of 2,000 kilocalories a day. This is 14,000 per week and 5,110,000 in a year. At the same time, they ideally drink at least 2 liters a day, which makes 14 liters per week and 5,110 liters in a year. A pretty large amount!

With each bite and sip, the body is put to work and must finally discharge the waste. In order to avoid illnesses, food quality and composition should be given top priority.

More energy in winter

As soon as temperatures drop, our eating habits change. People adapt to their external environment, they need heartier meals and gain some winter fat. This is absolutely normal, even from an evolutionary point of view.

Nowadays we rarely feel freezing cold in winter. However, people adapt slower to the new conditions than they produce developments themselves.

While in the past, people followed their intuition and consumed what was on offer, the available choice has now become too vast. Also, their intuition is often suppressed by stress, lack of time and lack of body awareness. The so-called "somatic intelligence", however, would be a good point of reference to optimally supply the body with the necessary nutrients.

Try and follow your feeling, concentrate more on yourself rather than just complying with what's on offer. Especially after an intensive workout, you get a feeling of what you really desire.

A balanced diet is important

In winter, a balanced diet is particularly important to prevent infections and to bring the body into a stable balance. Fruit, vegetables, fresh herbs and spices are ideal as they contain large amounts of minerals, vitamins and natural antioxidants.

We are thus more resistant, feel better and can avoid missing days of work. Drinking sufficiently – and ideally small amounts throughout the day – also supports the body. The dry air in heated environments attacks mucous membranes. Drinking mineral water or unsweetened tea on a regular basis helps re-moisten them, making them less vulnerable to viruses.

Woman is jogging
As soon as temperatures drop, it comes natural that eating habits should also change.

Five excellent tips on eating and drinking in winter:

1. Plenty of fruit and vegetables

Fruit and especially vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Thanks to the natural interplay of their constituents, natural products have a much higher quality than vitamin pills.

Food should be prepared in a gentle manner – this ensures that plenty of micronutrients can be absorbed by your body, thus strengthening your immune system and making you more resistant to viruses. Regional products are usually of higher quality and richer in nutrients.

As a minimum, you should observe the 5-a-day rule, that is 3 portions of vegetables and 2 portions of fruit. However, more of each is better. A green smoothie or freshly squeezed fruit juice in the morning is an ideal start. A piece of fruit as a snack, a mixed side salad at lunch and steamed vegetables in the evening create a thoroughly successful vitamin day.

2. Fresh herbs

Herbs contain large amounts of micronutrients and antioxidants. Especially rosemary, thyme and basil are rich in anti-inflammatory substances. Fresh herbs are always of higher quality than dried ones. They help you fight off infections and even if you catch a cold, they will help you overcome it in a better way.

Use more spices from now on and place a couple of pots with fresh herbs on the window sill. How about jacket potatoes with fresh herb cheese spread? This dish comes perfect with a large amount of fresh herbs.

3. Hot spices

Spices are said to have many positive qualities, such as antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects. They can stimulate the metabolism and thus generally strengthen the body.

Ginger, pepper and cayenne pepper serve this purpose particularly well but so do cinnamon, cocoa and cardamon. From now on, be more generous with spices or make yourself a spicy hot chocolate from cocoa, cinnamon, a little bit of chili and some hot milk and honey. This drink is ideal after a workout or a winter walk.

4. Less processed sugar

Especially the processed sugar in many industrially produced foods drives up blood sugar levels enormously in a short time, followed by a rapid drop.

This results in a constant feeling of hunger and an altered energy metabolism. Besides, white sugar contains nothing but calories. We often like to call these "empty calories".

Therefore, try and reduce the amount of sugar you consume and eat more natural snacks such as fresh fruit or homemade fruit yogurt. Doing so, you can even determine the degree of sweetness yourself.

5. Sufficient hydration

Right after birth, the human body is made up of approximately 80 percent water, while the adult human body is usually made up of about 60 percent. Even a lack of liquids amounting to as little as 2% of the body weight has negative effects on our performance capabilities. It is recommended to regularly drink 1.5 to 2.5 liters throughout the day.

Especially in winter, the mucous membranes should be kept well moistened. This is why you should drink mineral water, unsweetened teas or even water flavored with slices of orange, ginger or lemon. Avoid sweetened drinks such as coke or juices as they provide unneeded calories and influence insulin levels: their fluctuation can cause ravenousness.  

For more inspiration and information on running visit Ingalena Schömburg-Heuck's homepage.

About the author
Ingalena Schömburg-Heuck (29) is a former top runner (also a German half-marathon champion) and nutritionis. She also holds a diploma in sports sciences. She is one of the most prolific running coaches in the German-speaking community and works as a counselor for companies and athletes. In addition, she acts as an ambassador for various companies: Sport Scheck, Odlo, Running Coach, BMW, PowerBar, Perform Better and others. She lives her passion for sport on a daily basis and conveys it onto others through her work.

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Ingalena Schömburg-Heuck
Ingalena Schömburg-Heuck

Ingalena Schömburg-Heuck
Ingalena Schömburg-Heuck