The most popular question I get from readers about Kenyan runners is “What do Kenyan runners eat?” I have written a post on how the average Kenyan runner grows up in a low calory diet. The answer to what they eat when training is found in a study published by Active website. The study followed a group of 10 elite Kenyan runners over a seven day training period.
According to the study, about 86 percent of daily calories comes from vegetable sources, with 14 percent from animal foods.
As a Kenyan I have to say this heavy reliance on vegie is not a matter of choice but necessity. Because of their short maturity period, vegetables are planted all over Kenya, in farms and gardens. Vegetables are one of the cheapest foods available in Kenya. Foods such as potatoes and meat are expensive and most families cannot afford to buy them on daily basis.
Incidentaly, vegie eating is the secret diet for the best endurance athletes in the world.
The study adds, the Kenyan-runners’ diets were extremely rich in carbohydrate, with 76.5 percent of daily calories coming from carbs. The Kenyans ate about 10.4 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body mass each day, or approximately 4.7 grams per pound of body weight.
Sports-nutrition experts frequently recommend that athletes involved in strenuous training should consume about nine or more grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body mass per day.
During the study, in a day the average Kenyan runner ate an average of 600 grams of carbohydrate and 75 grams of protein (Mainly from plant foods like beans)
The peculiar find of the study was that we Kenyans drink very little water (about 1.113 liters per day), and a Kenyan runner actually tended to drink more tea than water on a daily basis (tea consumption was about 1.243 daily liters)
I remember when I was in high school, one of my classmate never drunk tea because his church prohibited drinking of tea. According to the church, TEA IS A DRUG!