10 Foods to Fuel Your Run

10 foods to fuel your run

You can ask any runner if every run is easy. We can assure you there is probably not going to be one person out there who would say “yes.” Running is hard, both mentally and physically. In fact you’ve probably heard the saying “running is 90% mental, and the rest is physical,”  but there are certain things you can do to help yourself have a “better” or “easier” run. Having a healthy and balanced diet is important for any runner. Eating a bad meal could turn a potentially great run into a miserable, long, no good run. Read on to find out what the best foods are for runners.

Running or exercising in general on an empty stomach is a bad idea. To start, you won’t be able to train at 100%, your blood sugar levels may drop and eating the wrong foods can cause cramps, nausea or dizziness and that’s the last thing a runner wants to deal with. When taking food into consideration, remember that the best food to eat before your workout should include some complex carbohydrates and protein. To keep your energy up and help prevent fatigue, here is a list of great foods you should eat before your run!

1. Water

Water is probably the most important thing to remember. You must hydrate your body, to improve your performance. When you are running, you are probably sweating a lot so it is important to drink a lot pre-workout and replenish the water post workout. Some runners prefer to drink a sports drink, like Gatorade, because it provides your body with fluid, sodium, and carbs.

2. Peanut butter and jelly on a whole wheat bagel

Who doesn’t love peanut butter and jelly? This combination is perfect because of the simple and complex carbs will provide you with enough energy to get through your entire run, no matter how long it is. Keep the peanut butter heavy and the jelly light (1-2 tablespoons.) Nancy, dietician and author of Nancy Clark’s ‘Sports Nutrition Guidebook says, “When it comes to the food choices runners can make, you can’t do much better than peanut butter.”  Peanut butter has carbohydrates that make you feel full long after you have eaten which can get you though a longer run.

3. Avocados

Avocados provide healthy fat. Avocados provide vitamin B, E, potassium and 17 other key nutrients important to the body. Potassium, also found in sports drinks, is an electrolyte which plays a huge part in your running because it helps to regulate your heart and contract your muscles. One avocado has around 220 calories and 21 grams of mono-saturated fats, also making you feel full longer.

4. Quinoa

Eating quinoa may be the new fad, but it’s for good reason. Quinoa is  a whole grain that is rich with complex carbohydrates, magnesium, fiber, riboflavin, and antioxidants. This grain contains all 9 essential amino acids, and is one of the few of its kind. This plant based source or complete protein is a perfect post-workout or post-run food because it helps to replenish and repair your muscles. 

5. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin B and C, dietary fiber, beta carotene, and complex carbohydrates. The sweet potatoes are a great food choice pre-run because they will help to stabilize your blood sugar levels, and is rich in nutrients. This could be a carb loading meal, will also make you feel full longer and give you more energy.

6. Bananas

Every runner needs an extra dose of potassium because that is what you loose when you sweat. Bananas are a good source of carbs and contain potassium so it is the perfect runners food. They will help regulate muscle contraction, prevent cramps, and is are considered safe to eat pre-run because they aren’t known to cause any gastrointestinal issues.

7. Salmon

Salmon is the perfect fish for runners since it is an excellent source of protein, and one of the best food sources for omega-3s which is essential for brain function and development. It is also high in vitamin A, B, and D, and has a good range of minerals that are perfect for a healthy diet.

8. Kale

Kale is very important to runners because it has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Having a healthy diet that is high in anti-inflammatory foods will help runners reduce the risk of low-grade inflammation due to exercising and running. Kale is also high in vitamins, iron and calcium and is one of the most antioxidant rich vegetables. 

9. Whole wheat pasta

Everyone knows pasta is good for any runner. Why, you ask? it is one of the most carbohydrate dense foods out there. This means it is a great food to eat prior to a run if you want to maximize muscle glycogen stores. It’s also great post run, when you want to replenish those stores. Choosing whole wheat pasta instead of white pasta is recommended because it is a longer lasting energy source.

10. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are great because you can add them to almost any dish, without adding extra calories. There are only 27 calories in one cup of cherry tomatoes, and contribute to a balanced diet that is both lean and satisfying. Tomatoes are rich in many vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to a runner such as B6. Having a healthy balanced diet is not just good for runners. Everyone can benefit by eating well and exercising, but these foods are great for fueling a run and are also beneficial post work out. Sometimes you need an extra kick for those long runs, and sometimes you need a little extra punch for those short runs.

For more on running by Daily Mom, check out these posts: How to Become a Runner and 13 Benefits of Running

Photo credits: 1 Lauren Hardy 2 Didriks 3 Jennifer 4 Bloomsberries 5 Luca Nebuloni

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Lauren Hardy

Lauren is a new mom living in Toronto, Canada. When she is not at home being a mom, she is working full time as a model, playing competitive baseball, and working on her personal blog. In her “spare” time, Lauren is aspiring to become a childbirth educator. You can find her at Lauren Hardy Blog

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