Your body is an amazing machine capable of incredible feats of fitness, endurance, and strength. However, like almost all machines, it’s only as good as the fuel it is supplied with.
Like a car, if you put poor quality fuel into your body, it will not work properly and could even break down. If you want to avoid this problem, you need to consider your diet as much as you do your training plan.
Running is a very energetic activity during which your body uses a mixture of two fuels: fat and carbohydrate. Your body can supply the fat – even the leanest person has lots of that to spare, but carbohydrate needs to come from your diet so they should be the focus of your running diet.
Here are some foods that runners should consume on a regular basis. They’re not all carbs though; a few other foods are also very beneficial.
Oatmeal is probably the best way to start each and every day. It’s packed with slow releasing low glycemic index carbs which provide your muscles with energy over a long period of time, perfect for fueling your workouts. It also contains valuable fiber and B vitamins which are also very healthy and beneficial.
Choose plain, natural oatmeal and not the quick-cook or flavored kind. Cook with water or milk as preferred and sweeten with raw honey or maple syrup. Add a scoop of your favorite protein powder if you want to make your oatmeal more nutritionally complete.
If you need a healthy but substantial snack that is loaded with essential minerals and vitamins, look no further than a banana. Sweet and convenient to carry and eat, bananas are loaded with potassium – an important mineral for preventing muscle cramps.
The browner your banana, the sweeter it will taste and the faster it will be digested – green bananas being very indigestible and not sweet at all.
If you buy a lot of bananas and find they become overripe too soon, store them in your fridge. You can also freeze chunks of banana which make them ideal for adding to smoothies.
Most carb-seeking runners rely heavily on rice and pasta but both of these foods are a) high in gluten and b) low in other nutrients. Quinoa is a pseudo-grain (actually a seed) that is not only high in carbs, it also contains lots of protein too. It’s slow digesting and also low in gluten so many sensitive individuals find it causes less bloating.
You cook quinoa in more or less the same way you cook rice and it makes a great accompaniment to almost any meal. If you let it cool and add some dried fruit and chopped veggies, it also makes a nice salad.
4. Wild salmon
Salmon is not a source of carbs but is a good source of protein and essential fats. Essential fats are often missing from the diet but are, as the name suggests, essential. Your body does not use essential fats for energy but, instead, they are anti-inflammatory which makes them very good for you indeed.
Running can cause systemic inflammation but most runners tend to notice this in the form of knee, hip, or back pain. Wild salmon, being a good source of essential fats, can help calm inflammation so you can run with less discomfort. It’s also packed with vitamin D and E – both of which are very important vitamins for runners.
For more on the benefits of salmon, check out this article.
All fruit is good for runners but berries have them all beat! Berries are low in sugar but very VERY high in antioxidants. Running is undoubtedly good for you but does increase free radical production in your body. Free radicals are molecules with unpaired electrons in their outer shells which can cause damage to cells and even your DNA.
Antioxidants mop up free radicals so they cause less damage and, as a result, you suffer fewer ill-effects from your otherwise healthy running habit.
Mix a half a cup of mixed berries with a cup of natural Greek yogurt and top with a drizzling of raw honey for a light and creamy breakfast or dessert.
Potatoes are a great food for runners. They contain plenty of vitamin C, fiber, and carbs and are cheap and delicious. White potatoes often get a bad rap because they are deemed to be fattening and not very nutritious but this simply isn’t true. Of course, if you make your potatoes into French fries, they won’t be very good for you but if you bake a small or medium-sized potato and serve it with cottage cheese, there is nothing to worry about.
If you still don’t want to eat white potatoes, no worries – you can eat sweet potatoes instead. They do contain more vitamins but are, however, usually more expensive.
You cannot outrun a bad diet – even if you are using a lot of calories in your training. Your body needs more than just energy to function properly so make sure you eat as healthily as you can. Including these six foods is a step in the right direction!