Whether you are a recreational runner, a long-distance runner or preparing for a race, eating the right foods will improve your performance and aid in recovery. It’s also crucial to have stored energy to sustain a lifestyle of running and these powerful foods listed below will help to achieve your running goals.
If you’ve ever participated in a running event, you may have noticed bananas available as a pre- or post-race snack. This high-carb energy fruit is packed with electrolytes, such as potassium, which is partly responsible for fluid balance and regulation of nerve impulses. A deficiency of this mineral can cause muscle cramps and irregular heartbeat. Bananas also contain loads of magnesium and other essential minerals which can be lost through sweat. It’s high content of vitamin B-6 also helps to maintain energy and muscle activity during a run.
Wild salmon is quite high in omega-3 fatty acids, which is usually deficient in a runner’s diet. The increase in blood flow these acids produce also increases cardiac output for low- to medium-intensity exercise. Salmon improves the nervous system and helps to prevent inflammation, heart disease and high blood pressure. As an added benefit, the essential fatty acids help to replenish aging skin with lipids, which are molecules that maintain skin elasticity and flexibility and collagen production.
Oatmeal is high in both carbs and fiber, which means it’s a great fuel for your runs. It’s also a great regulator for your blood sugar level, as it supplies energy over a longer period of time. Oatmeal also contains B vitamins and has loads of minerals and antioxidants. Plus, it aids in lowering cholesterol and benefits your heart health. Just be sure to avoid the highly processed individual servings, which can have a high content of sugar and salt.
Kale is important for runners because of its high content of calcium (which is better absorbed than dairy), vitamins C, A, E, K, and loads of beta-carotene and iron. It’s an antioxidant (one of the most antioxidant-rich vegetables), which helps to regulate blood clotting and promote bone growth, and contains anti-inflammatory properties that help to reduce running-related injuries.
For a powerful recovery drink, consume chocolate milk, white milk or soya milk. It’s loaded with fast-acting protein and calcium to aid in recovery by replacing carbs and electrolytes. It also promotes muscle growth and bone health, essential for runners.
Natural peanut butter without the added sugar and salt is a great source of vitamin E, making it a great antioxidant. Its rich content of protein aids in muscle growth, and it’s fatty acids helps to lower cholesterol. For a post-recovery food, it helps to prevent injuries and replenish much-needed energy. Its effectiveness of feeling full may provide that extra willpower to finish a long-distance run or racing event.
Beans are loaded with protein, fiber and slow-releasing carbohydrates, which are essential for releasing fuel for your long runs or racing events. Because of their phytonutrients and other anti-cancer properties, they also help to lower the risk of colorectal, breast and prostate cancer.
As you can see from the list above, runners don’t need to depend on energy drinks or bars as part of a healthy diet. If your diet is balanced and varied and includes some of these superfoods, you’re on your way to a healthy running lifestyle!