9 Essential Foods for Runners
If you are a runner and don’t know what foods you can eat to boost you at running and to help you recover after a run I have something that you just have to run by yourself and read.
- Bananas If you need a high in carb energy booster before your afternoon run, you can’t go wrong with a banana. This fruit contains a healthy dose of potassium. This is especially important for long distance runs or in hot temperatures when you are likely to sweat a lot and lose valuable minerals. Potassium compensates for this loss and lowers your blood pressure at the same time.
- Oats Oatmeal is the perfect breakfast when you are going out for a run. It provides you with plenty of carbohydrates and is high in fibre. Plus, oats has a low GI This means that they cause your blood sugar level to rise slowly, providing you with energy over a longer period of time and keep you feeling full longer. Also, did you know that a healthy adult should get about 50% of his or her total energy from carbohydrates?
- Peanut butter Pure peanut butter without any additives like sugar, salt or oil. It’s a good source of vitamin E, which is probably the most effective antioxidant among the vitamins. While it is true that peanuts contain a lot of good fat (making them anything but low calorie), it mainly consists of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. These can help lower cholesterol levels in your blood. Plus, they are important for strengthening your immune system, speeding up your post-run recovery and preventing injuries. Peanut butter also contains a good deal of protein and thus helps your muscles grow. Try putting peanut butter on whole grain toast with banana slices – it tastes amazing! It is also good for a snack with a few slices of apple.
- Broccoli This green vegetable is full of vitamin C. According to studies, this can help reduce the risk of, or even prevent sore muscles after intense workouts. Broccoli is also a good source of calcium, folic acid and vitamin K, which strengthen our bones. Our tip: Broccoli tastes great together with salmon or lean beef.
- Plain yogurt Yogurt is the perfect combination of carbohydrates and proteins. Consumed right after a run, it can speed up your recovery and thus protect your muscles. The calcium contained within also strengthens your bones. An additional benefit of yogurt is that it contains live lactic acid bacteria (probiotics). These stimulate your gut flora and thus boost your immune system. This is important for everybody, not just dedicated runners.
- Dark chocolate You are allowed to treat yourself once in a while. Dark chocolate (with at least 70% cacao) is the perfect sin because you don’t have to feel guilty afterwards. It can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Plus, the flavanols (secondary metabolites) contained within help reduce inflammation. What is the best thing about dark chocolate (other than the taste)? It puts you in a good mood. But here as usual it always comes down to portion size. Two or three squares are plenty. When combined with a handful of nuts, they can help you beat the mid-afternoon slump.
- Whole-grain pasta The high-carb meal also fills up your glycogen stores. These glycogen reserves provide you with the energy you need during the marathon. When buying pasta, and bread for that matter, makes sure to choose the whole grain pastas – these keep you full longer and contain additional B vitamins. These are essential from building muscle and can improve your endurance and performance. Enjoy your pasta, for instance, with a tuna and tomato sauce instead of the heartier carbonara version. It doesn’t sit as heavy in your stomach but is still full of calories.
- Coffee Studies have shown that a cup of coffee can give your high intensity interval training a boost. The caffeine contained within helps you run faster and cover your training distance in less time. The important thing is that you drink black coffee – without milk and sugar. Many people still think that coffee dehydrates your body, but this isn’t true. What coffee does do is increase your urine output, meaning that you might have to go to the toilet more often than usual. Which isn’t such a great thing during a marathon.
- Potatoes Potatoes like bananas are a valuable source of potassium, making them a staple of every runner’s diet. Also worth mentioning is their calorie content. For example, 100 g of the popular vegetable has two-thirds less calories than 100 g of rice. When paired with lean chicken, salmon or fried eggs, they make for a healthy and tasty recovery meal. Plus, did you know that just one large sweet potato can cover your total daily requirement of vitamin A? This vitamin works as an antioxidant, improves your eyesight, strengthens your bone tissue and boosts your immune system.
So you see that a runner’s meal plan should be balanced and varied. What you eat, how often you eat and when you eat should always be aligned with your personal goals.
I hope that this has helped and that you now can see what to eat more of to help you with your running goals.