Strength Training for Runners

Diet of Kenyan Runners: A Scientific Look at the Diet of the World’s Fastest Runners

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20 responses

  1. Mike
    May 15, 2013

    How do you know Kenyan runners are “following scientific protocol without realizing it?”

  2. alexander abramson
    June 30, 2013

    I am trying to qualify for the Olympics for running. I wanted to up my training and my diet because I wanted to be like the Kenyans. Could you please send me like a list of all the stuff that they eat and when they eat it. Your report was really good but i want to know like what they ate and when they ate it not the percentiles and stuff.

  3. Marcus
    July 24, 2013

    is “Plain sugar” considered white sugar? or do they have the real stuff… organic sugar aka sugar cane.

  4. Van
    July 27, 2013

    Thank you so much for the article. Love stuff like this!!!

  5. otto
    August 21, 2013

    could you tell what they eat for breakfast, lunch etc. And how much

    • Tommepouce
      March 19, 2014

      I also think another part of Kenyan “diet” which is not not about food) is that they sleep ! They really sleep a lot and do not get extra-stress like western runner (who sometieme work while training).
      I think that when you sleep a lot, you do not need extra calories to sustain any other activity than running. Sleeping is one of the key recovery tool of Kenyan runers.

    December 28, 2013

    Kenyan elite marathon runners are mainly all vegetarian and elite runners eat 98% to 99% vegetarian diet.

    Many authors have overblown statements on eating meat and beef, trying to say it is eaten often, but among the best runners meat is hardly eaten at all. Meat comprises less than 1% of a fast runner’s diet. 99% is vegetarian. Vegetarian includes the milk (called a lacto-vegetarian). The amount of Milk is less than 13%. Without the milk and the barely 1% rarely eaten meat, the diet would be a vegan diet for highest performance.

    That leaves 99% of the diet of plants and milk. only 1% occasional meat. special occasions or holidays. Or if several times 4 times in a week then the piece of the beef is cut to be so small that it is still only 1% of diet. If 1 piece then about the size of a baby’s hand. if 4 times wk then that much is cut into smaller piece like .25 quarter. Still same total amount. Hardly any beef or meat. Diet minus the 1% meat and minus the 13% milk leaves 86% pure all plants. (99% vegetarian or 86% vegan).

    The plant part of the diet is almost all Grain. Best Runners eat grain. Top food of the marathon endurance runners is grain. That grain is called Maize. Maize is Corn. Kenyan runners eat Corn more than any other food. Grain is top among the winners of all distance events. 23% of diet is corn.

    Next is more Grain. This grain is rice. Winners eat rice. Rice is 14% of Kalenjin runners teams diet.

    Next food is Bread. More grain. This grain is Wheat. Kenyan running team eats bread, made out of wheat. 6% of diet is wheat. more grain.

    The next food is potato. Winners eat starch. 5% of diet is potatoes.

    Next food is beans. Beans are 5% of diet.

    Next food is cabbage. Cabbage is good. flavor. Cabbage is 2% of Kalenjin diet.

    Almost 76% carbs. Best fitness for being thin is carbs. Eat carbs, become lean. Good runner. High energy. Most endurance. The 20% of the calories in a runners diet, especially before a race is straight sugar. Sugar is not poison. Sugar is healthy, not for a person overweight, it is for a person who is a lean elite runner who needs racing fuel. Sugar does not make fat, sugar in an athlete wins the races.

    Diet is 10% protein. Most of this protein is from Vegetarian. Not the meat. The protein is in the potatoes, the protein is in the corn, the protein is in the beans, Maybe little protein comes from the milk. That is the most of the protein. It is vegetarian protein. Not the meat. The meat is <1%. The total percent ratio of the protein is only needed to be 10%.

    Fat is about 13%. This is low fat diet. Best for making into a world class athlete. The fat is not the lard. The fat is not the oil in a jug or the coconut oil. The fat is not the bacon. That is bad fats. Not good for the athlete or anybody. Damage the runners heart. The fat is already in the plant, it is the healthy plant fat that came in it. There is some fat in the pasteurized milk. No "Raw Milk" that will cause the feces bacteria sickness not good for athletes or anyone. Both the fat in the plant and everything only comes to 13%.

    So this is a HIGH CARB diet. High Carb. Low Fat. Low Protein. diet. It is 76% carbs, high carbohydrates for good athletes. 10% protein. 13% fat. That's 99% plus theres some "smallstuffs" like the seasonings, the herb, the spices, that is the other 1%. Taste good.

    99% Vegetarian, Corn, Grain, Rice, Wheat, Bread, Potatoes, Beans, Cabbage, Milk diet. <1% meat.

    The corn and the maize and the foods are made into Kenyan traditional named foods. The kenyan names are such kind as "Ugali" which is taking the corn and making cornmeal. Then make into a ball and eat it. Or make a paste. Eat it from a bowl. Like oatmeal. You call it porridge. In kalenjin tribe this can be called kimyet. Other names in africa for this are Kikuyu, obusuma, and obokima. same thing. Westerners tell that ugali is put next to the meat. For kenyan top runners this is not put next to the meat. This is vegan.

    The next name is Sukuma Wiki. This is a plant mix. It has Collard greens in it. Collard greens is not the same as kale but you could use kale if you are not in eastern africa and cannot find sukumawiki. Sukumawiki is swahili word which means "extend the week". Last long. It has been eaten for 2,000 years in Congo Republic and Kenya. You could add some tomatoes. And onion. garlic. cumin. corainder. turmeric. little bit of salt. This would make it good taste for western style if you want. This is vegan food. Green Vegetable.

    The next name is Githeri. This is the Beans. The beans are mixed with the corn. corn and bean mix is good. The most protein comes from Beans. Good plant protein.

    Also a runner may eat the corn just from the corn (corn-on-the-cob) too for a snack in between meals.

    The coffee is the drink sometimes. The tea is at other times. The tea has put the sugar. This and the porridge is where the sugar goes. To the sweet taste.

    No supplemen is necessary. No protein drink or whey powder for the elite endurance team runners. Maybe electrolyte only during competeition event race. The nearly all vegetarian diet supplies all nutrients. That is the fruits, vegetables, roots like the potatoes, the beans or you can also call them legumes, and the grains, wheat, corn, rice, and all types of grains and carbs.

    The lowcarb diet is the loser athlete in the race. Paleo was worst and unfit for everyone. Also The no-grain diet is one no good for health. For the fittest, a Vegetarian is the formula of the diet of the best fastest athletes. Also for the more health and stamina. Go eat the lot of meat protein diets and we will pass you and politely say thank you for handing us another medal. Or eat the good plants and we'll see you at the olympics or the next race and a good challenge.

  7. obadiah arande
    October 24, 2014

    kenyans dominate in long and middle distance due to 5 broad reasons
    1.determination.kenyan athletes name them Rudisha,kimeto come from poverty striken homes.they run to earn a coin to unfold their poverty

    2.Altitude.kalenjins come from rifty valley a high altitude area.their bodies respond to low oxygen concentration by increasing number of blood cells and haemoglobin xontent in them.they are acclamatised.they are able to perform in low altitudes where oxygen is plenty.
    3.Diet.kenyans diet is rich in carbohydrates.this gives them energy for endurance.ask them of “ugali”
    4.poature.kalenjins are slender making them have little resistance to the wind.
    5.Haddy.kalenjins are hardened by the erands they run each day through walking farming.this builds their endurance.

  8. Matt
    November 3, 2014

    “If you’re just getting started or trying to lose weight, the diet is probably a little too high in carbohydrates and simple sugars” — a *little* too high in carbs and sugar? More like TOXICALLY high, unless you’re running at a fast pace at least 50 miles per week. This was a great article and I intend to increase my carb intake at times when I’m doing more training, but let’s be perfectly clear that the average runner should NOT consume anywhere near that amount of sugar and carbs (especially refined carbs like white flour). For the average runner, also consider timing – it’s fine to have some sugar right after running, but try to avoid it at other times. Sugar and refined carbs – not fat! – have been scientifically proven to be the #1 cause behind the obesity epidemic in industrialized countries. For more info, see the excellently-researched book “Death by Food Pyramid” by Denise Minger. Also see videos by endocrinologist Robert Lustig (but keep in mind that his comments on exercise are geared toward people who do light occasional exercise, not real runners) – there’s a 30 minute shorter version on YouTube if you don’t have time to watch his original 90-minute presentation.

    • Coach Jeff
      November 3, 2014

      Sorry, didn’t mean this to be an article about what kind of diet to follow. Just an interesting look at what highly elite, 2:05 marathoners eat.

    • Celina Petrella
      November 14, 2014

      The day that industrialized countries stop eating industrialized foods (sodas, desserts, industrialized sugars, additives, sport drinks etc etc) and start eating organic, food with no aritificial and unnatural additives, animals with no hormones, etc etc) that day, when technologies fuses with real nutrition for the real benefit of people and not for industries, people will live healthy. I think,and I am a certified nutritionist, that their diet is well adapted to their objective and has no unnatural products. All their food is really natural, gluten free and filled with natural vitamins and mineral. (no artificial). We have to stop fooling ourselves with all this information totally out of context. Sugar in that amount,in their overall diet is not so high. And it is burnt. Their carbohydrates are not industrialized are natural. They have fiber which provide lower glycemic loads. So if you are going to talk about nutrition and criticize a diet that is making this people win gold medals please first make a real study of all nutritional variables.
      Celina Petrella Nutritionist (Licenciada en Nutrición).

      • Coach Tina
        November 14, 2014

        Thank you for your input Celina! We will look into posting about more natural sources of fueling for runners in the future. We will look into other studies in our future articles to make sure we give a more balanced outlook into nutrition of elite athletes.

  9. Dovaine
    November 29, 2014

    That’s great to know I like the ideal diet of Kenyan middle distance athlete.

    • Coach Tina
      November 29, 2014

      Glad you enjoyed the post Dovaine! Sounds like you have your diet set!

  10. Alfian
    January 18, 2015

    Hi! Great article. Was wondering if you have any views regarding Prof. Tim Noakes’ opinion about following a ketogenic/low-carb high-fat diet? According to him, quite a few ultra marathoners and endurance athletes who are champions in their respective categories, have this type of diet to thank for their successes. Was wondering if many in the community agree with him (Along with Jeff Volek from the USA as well). Cheers!

    • Coach Tina
      January 18, 2015

      Hi Alfian, that depends on the person you are asking. I cannot speak for the other coaches, but I do not believe in a ketogenic diet. However, different people may find different diets work for them. If others believe this is best for them, then I am not going to tell them otherwise. Interesting to think about, but we do not tend to talk about specific diets. :)

  11. nik palmer
    April 25, 2015

    Hi Jeff, thanks for all your info here and elsewhere. If the athletes were to be training once a day then how do you feel this would change there diet and mealtimes?

    • Coach Tina
      April 27, 2015

      Hi Nik, that should not really change the mealtimes too much, as many athletes run at different times, as long as you eat before and after training, you will be fine. As for what you eat, just eating less if you are running less. This may help calculate how much to eat based on your running Hope this helps!

  12. kaliko
    May 21, 2015

    lovely staff, i wish i knew this when i was young, now am forty years please send me the training programs, i want to run the next ten years and train some people in my Area, because the Terain and the food is similar to that of Kenyas. I leave around Munali hills in Zambia and i feel this can eradicate poverty in my Area and possibly the National at large. i have what it takes to be a world athletee but age has caught up with me but i can help the young ones. am a coach for one of the Clubs in the capital city Lusaka but i plan to settle in my village when i retire and i already have a club in my village with ten athletees but not doing fine.

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