Are you an avid runner who wants to feel strong and always in top shape? While putting in 110% of your energy into each workout is a good way of going about it, doing so is only half of the battle. You can run as many miles as you want, but in order to get better, you’ll also need to consider your diet.
Of course, it comes as a no-brainer that eating junk food (e.g. fried foods, sweets, etc.) is not good for you, but also knowing what foods are good for you can really make a difference in terms of gaining muscle, boosting energy, and overall get you healthy.
In this article, we’ll list the top foods for runners which will, hopefully, inspire you to go about and do the same thing. Soon, you can enhance yourself and be ready to give it your all on the next run!
It comes as no surprise that fruits and vegetables make this list of foods for the runner’s diet. However, the important trick to eating smart with these food groups is to get as many colorful produce into your system.
Think the rainbow: red for tomatoes, orange for sweet potatoes, yellow for bananas, green for broccoli, and so forth. Eating all of these foods packs a powerful punch, enhancing your potassium and iron levels, as well as other vitamins and minerals, that will be sure to boost energy, endurance, and recovery time for runs.
For some of you that do not like eating fruits and vegetables: Are there any other options? Yes, you can just drink them. My favorite is carrot juice. Take a look at the carrot juice benefits, I am sure that you will totally be convinced.
For more information on the benefits for fruits and vegetables for runners, check out this article.
Perhaps you’ve seen many athletes stock up on eggs and chicken breast for almost every meal. It might seem strange, but there’s a good reason to it. Naturally, meat contains protein which is used to build muscle and strength, considering that you burn through many protein reserves in your muscles when you log in many miles. There even is evidence suggesting that consuming more protein helps athletes take on heavier, more intense workouts.
That said, definitely consider taking in lean meats such as chicken and certain cuts of beef (with added iron to boot). Eggs, whether boiled, scrambled, or poached, are a good bet, too. If you like seafood, then consider ones like salmon which are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can benefit the heart.
To find out more about lean meats and running, read this article.
From whole-grain bread to whole-wheat pasta, substituting them for the bleached, processed versions can provide more nutrition in your daily intake while also fueling you up for your next run. It is said that a runner’s diet should contain up to 60 percent of carbohydrates, of which whole-grain foods can account for the majority.
If you’re afraid that eating too many carbs will make you gain weight, you don’t have to worry about it. As long as you can balance your diet with the right amount of activity, eating food items like pasta or rice will actually benefit you more than not.
Eating these carb-loaded foods help replenish your glycogen levels, which boost energy and also help you recover faster. Runners often have “pasta parties” the night before a race to ensure that they’ll be ready to perform their best.
Even better, taking in whole-grain versions of carb dishes help you take in lots of good vitamins and nutrients, including vitamin B and fiber which boost metabolism and faster muscle recovery. So stock up on your favorite pasta dish today!
For more information on carbohydrate loading (i.e. pasta), watch this video:
Not only do these small items serve as light, delicious treats that you can enjoy snacking on, but they have also been shown to help you maintain body weight. Items such as almonds, flax seeds, and so forth are packed with good fats (e.g. polyunsaturated) that have anti-inflammatory properties to help lower chances of heart disease.
Of course, you should be careful when snacking on them: nuts and seeds might contain good fats, but they are fats regardless. Eating too much of them can actually start to have a negative effect on your body, so having them in moderation is the best way to go about it.
Good nuts to consider eating include hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and pecans. On the other hand, beneficial seeds are chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds.
Additionally, legumes such as beans are good to consider adding in as part of your athletic diet, as they provide high levels of protein, iron, fiber, and vitamins, thus making them an all-around perfect runner’s food.
Check out this video on the best nuts and seeds for runners:
Perhaps you’ve heard the common fact that drinking milk and/or other consuming other dairy products will build strong muscles and bones. While it’s true that these items contain calcium that is used to fortify bones, consider taking them in also for its high protein and fat content.
Having a solid balance of protein, fats, and carbohydrates will improve your performance as a runner, offering you that extra boost in energy and endurance to make it through your next workout.
Hence, take the time to stock up on items such as milk (animal or plant-produced) and Greek yogurt the next time you go grocery shopping; your body will thank you for it.
For a list of good dairy products to consume for your next run, check out this article here.
Overall, your diet plays an important role equal to that of running workouts for your active lifestyle. You cannot simply improve your running performance just by training intensely, but rather balance what you consume as well.
Finding that right medium among carbohydrates, proteins, and fats will help you improve your body’s health, as well as enhance it through proper training and muscle building. From nuts and seeds to lean meats to fruits and vegetables, the possibilities are endless. Time to dig in!