Beginner Runner’s Diet

Beginner runners dietRun Your Butt Off! is a beginner runners diet written by Leslie Bonci, one of America’s most recognized sports dietitians, Sarah Butler, Runner’s World contributing editor and Budd Coates, who has a degree in exercise physiology and is a member of the Runner’s World advisory board.

This book provides dietary advice and outlines a progressive running program – designed for beginners – that can help you to lose ten to twelve pounds within twelve weeks.

Runners Diet Basics

The dietary component of the program is based on the concept that you have to burn more calories than you consume if you want to lose weight.

You will be taught how to measure your caloric needs so that you know exactly how many calories you need each day.

When you first start the diet you need to measure everything you eat for at least two or three days. Once you have created a meal plan and have a general idea of the calories contained in your meals it is not necessary to continue counting calories.

You are also advised to calculate how much protein you are eating to ensure you are getting enough.

Each day you will consume three meals and two small snacks. You should learn to evenly space out your meals during the day because this prevents you from getting to the point of being ravenously hungry.

Breakfast is essential because it reduces the risk of your appetite getting out of control later in the day, which could lead to overeating. It also provides you with the nutrients you need for exercise as well as general everyday activities. Dieters are advised to try to eat breakfast within an hour of waking up.

Additionally you are encouraged to eat your meals slowly, taking at least ten minutes for breakfast and lunch and about twenty minutes for the evening meal. This has the effect of helping you to increase the enjoyment of your meals, as well as increasing your eating awareness, making it likely that you will end up eating less food.

Run Your Butt Off doesn’t include a meal plan or recipes but it offers ideas for breakfast, lunch and snacks, as well as basic instructions for seven evening meals.

Recommended Foods

Apples, bananas, pineapple, oatmeal, high-fiber cereal, whole wheat bread, brown rice, pasta, fat-free milk, cottage cheese, peanut butter, beef, chicken, fish, ham, asparagus, sweet potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, salsa, olive oil, dark chocolate.

Sample Run Your Butt Off Meal Plan


Whole wheat English muffin
1 slice low fat cheese
1 slice ham


Salad topped with a 3oz can of tuna
Bunch of grapes

Afternoon Snack

Hard-boiled egg


Stir-fry with 1 cup frozen shrimp and 2 cups of vegetables
2/3 cup brown rice

Evening Snack

Sliced apple with a tablespoon of peanut butter

Exercise Recommendations

The beginner runners diet starts with walking, building up to thirty minutes at a time. When you are comfortable with this you then start to include some running, beginning with intervals of one minute running and ten minutes walking.

Gradually the duration of running is increased by a minute each week until you are running for the entire thirty minutes. Depending on how fast you progress through each level the program can take from twelve weeks up to six months.

Costs and Expenses

Run Your Butt Off!: A Breakthrough Plan to Lose Weight and Start Running (No Experience Necessary!) retails at $19.99.


  • Includes unique advice on how to get started with a running program.
  • Encourages you to go at your own pace.
  • Provides basic nutritional information.
  • Educates dieters about calorie counting and portion control, which are proven to be effective methods of weight loss.
  • Can help to increase bone density.


  • Requires calorie counting and measuring portion sizes.
  • Necessary to spend time creating meal plans and preparing food.
  • Does not include recipes or a meal plan.
  • Will not appeal to people who don’t like running.
  • Not appropriate for individuals with knee, hip or ankle injuries.
  • Too basic for advanced runners.


This runners diet is suitable for those who are new to running and want to incorporate running into a comprehensive weight loss plan. It includes a step-by-step program to increase your stamina, while offering general dietary advice that will help you to lose weight.

Unfortunately Run Your Butt Off does not offer guidelines on how to continue once the program is completed and can be considered too basic for experienced runners.

 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
  • Koplan, J. P., Powell, K. E., Sikes, R. K., Shirley, R. W., & Campbell, C. C. (1982). An epidemiologic study of the benefits and risks of running. Jama, 248(23), 3118-3121. abstract
  • Williams, P. T. (2013). Greater weight loss from running than walking during 6.2-yr prospective follow-up. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 45(4), 706. abstract


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Last Reviewed: March 28, 2021