Discover Your Food Personality

Let's face it, we all love food. But everyone has different eating patterns: some keep a track of everything; others grab whatever they can on the go. There's no right or wrong way to eat well - what works for one runner might not for the next. Work out your 'eating identity' and learn how to tweak your diet so it meets your nutritional and running needs.

Reactive eater

"Reactive eaters listen to their bodies," says clinical nutritionist Tara Coleman (taracoleman.com). This stops them consuming too much, as they finish when they're full. But when pushed for time, reactive eaters can choose unhealthy convenience foods.
Eat smarter: You'll benefit from some forward thinking. Cook extra portions of a dish that you can eat cold later (try wholegrain pasta with vegetables), and stock your gym bag, desk and car with healthy snacks such apples or trail-mixes.

Restrictive eater

Careful eaters want to stay lean, so they save calories wherever they can and choose low-fat foods. But dieters often cut out too much fat, says sports dietician Becky Stevenson (pro-activate.co.uk). This is a mistake, as fats help reduce the risk of injury.
Eat smarter: Once a week, eat something you crave - then pay attention to how you feel when you go for a run. Foods you avoided might actually energise you. But stick to healthy fats, as they improve vitamin absorption: top porridge with walnuts or add avocado to wraps.

Habitual eater

A Swedish study found that creatures of habit who eat regular meals lower their risk of diabetes and heart disease. But if they don't shake up their diet from time to time, they could develop a nutrient deficiency.
Eat smarter: Make frequent substitutions to your diet, says Monique Ryan, author of Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes (£16, VeloPress). Ditch the corn flakes for porridge mixed with antioxidant-rich berries. In a grilled-chicken rut? Beef flank steak is lean and contains more iron.

Grazing eater

Grazers snack every few hours, which means they're fuelled before a run, and they quickly refuel after. But grazers can eat too many or too few calories if they don't watch portion sizes, and convenient options like cereal bars often lack essential protein.
Eat smarter: Calculate your calorie needs using a website such as nutritiondata.com. Evenly divide those calories throughout the day: for example, if you need 1,800 calories, you could have six 300-calorie snacks per day, such as wholegrain toast with almond nut butter, an apple and two small pieces of cheese, or half a turkey sandwich.

Well-planned eater

Detail-orientated, the organised eater sticks to a meal plan, which can detach them from how their body feels. Planners eat something because their schedule says they have to, not always because they want to, says Coleman.
Eat smarter: Keep that food log, but also note how you feel before and after workouts. You may discover you only need that post-run protein shake after your toughest runs. On the days that you work out in the evening, you may find that you need more calories.

The indulgent eater

"Some think that running means they can eat anything they want to," says Coleman. While it's OK to enjoy high-calorie or high-fat fare every now and then, doing it often will lead to weight gain.
Eat smarter: Keep the sweet-treat portions in check - opt for a single square of dark chocolate rather than a whole stack of custard creams.