Low Calorie Diet Powers Kenya Runners

The special diet for Kenyan runners is a low calorie diet. The foods that they grow up eating  are foods low on calories such as maize and beans.

Majority of Long distance Kenyan runners were born in poor homes where they grew up being fed on a diet of maize and beans, not the most ideal food to feed your children but when you don’t have the means you have no choice. Animal protein  a good source of high calories, is expensive for the average Kenyan family, the only time this poor families buy meat is during special occasions like Christmas Party! They get most of their protein from grains.

The low calorie diet has given them a lean body that is essential to long distance running. You can mark out a Kenyan runner in a race by his razor thin body.

The Daily Kenyan Diet

For breakfast the average Kenyan family drinks tea with milk and eat sweet potatoes or arrow roots, a traditional African food rich in carbohydrates. For lunch and supper a family eats a mixture of Maize and beans.

When I was ten years old my parents enrolled me into a boarding school. Boarding schools in Kenya are not just for the rich, we have low cost boarding schools. Every lunch time we ate a diet of maize and beans.

What Kenyan Runners Share with Ethiopian Runners

To show you why I think a low calorie diet is one factor to their long distance running dominance, let me compare the environment of Kenyan runners with Ethiopian runners.

Ethiopian runners are the only ones that seem to seriously challenge the Kenyan runners. Ethiopia is known for its poverty and famine, an environment where kids grow up being fed in a low calorie diet. An Ethiopian runner is as lean as a Kenyan runner. Although they grew up in different countries, they share a similar low calorie diet.

In trying to understand why Kenyan runners have dominated long distance running, most experts focus only on their training and living in altitude. The issue of low calory diet needs to be considered as one of the many factors that explain the dominance of Kenya’s  in long distance running.

6 thoughts on “Low Calorie Diet Powers Kenya Runners

  1. leslie l

    Thanks for sharing this info. This information in a sense makes a lot of US nutrition information stating that vegetarians need to replenish certain nutrients a fallacy.

  2. i2runner

    This is a nice article. Kenyans are probably one of the healthiest people on earth.

    I used to buy protein shakes thinking it would help me with my running. The problem is, they’re so expensive. Now that you’ve mentioned Kenyans are actually into low calorie diet, I guess I’ll dump my high protein diet and go mostly carbs instead. Thanks!

  3. PRunner

    Wow Leslie, slow dow a little, weight that keynas runners have are bellow nutricional standards, way below almost to the point of being underweight, and a only vegetables diet is much help either, even if you only take into acout this post, keynas do eat dairy products, and even though very small quanties they also eat meat. I doesn’t matter is nutrition information is from a county or other, biochemical aspects of nutrion are not dependent on race.

  4. Didi

    Hello, fine and illuminating article. I wish to add a few inputs. If you have broad cholesterol, then you may question, will a low fat diet lower cholesterol? This is a critical inquiry, because it is a good known fact that the most effective way to lower cholesterol is through diet. For Certain one element of a diet for lowering cholesterol will take on follows low in fat. Only this is entirely part of the history. It is serious to get that it is the concentrated fattens that you want to decimate it from the foods you eat.


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