Five Awesome Foods for Runners

Runners are a unique breed of human: They believe that all of life’s problems can be solved with a long run, and get excited about a $125 pair of sneakers. (They won’t blister your feet!)

With this uniqueness comes a unique set of needs, especially when it comes to fueling. Runners need a good mix of nourishing fuel to help them continue doing the sport they love. Similarly, like filling up your car, not all fuels are created equal—some nourish, heal and energize our bodies better than others.

To help boost performance, heal quicker and ease pain and inflammation, there are five foods that stand out to help a runner.

Fruits and Nuts

Probiotics

You’ve probably heard about the benefits of probiotics because new research is constantly coming out about them. But what are those little buggers? They’re these microscopic bacteria that live in your gut and boost health. They keep you healthy by being the gateway to your immune system. When we eat more probiotics, we’re setting our bodies up for success.

Probiotics can help athletes by supporting proper immune function, and by increasing antioxidant absorption. These little guys also improve digestion and the absorption of protein and fats, which is good news because athletes have the highest nutrient needs than anyone.

Probiotics come in many forms. Many organic grocery stores carry probiotic capsules. Do read labels to learn what strands you’re getting. But probiotics from food may be best. Naturally-occurring probiotics can be found in yogurt, kefir, tempeh, miso, sauerkraut and kimchi.

Also, make sure you’re eating fibrous foods like banana, onions and garlic, which are considered pre-biotics. These act as the food source for the bacteria.

Beets

Beets have a very distinct taste—you either love them or hate them. But, beets are incredibly beneficial for athletes and runners.

Beets have naturally-occurring nitrates. It’s converted in the body into a compound that helps dilate the blood vessels. With the vessels dilated, a runner’s blood-flow capacity is increased and it lowers the amount of oxygen needed. This is good because it helps a runner use oxygen more efficiently and ultimately move more efficiently.

These vegetables can be spiced and roasted, turned into soup, blended into smoothies and even grated into salads. Beets can be eaten cooked or raw. If you’re on the fence with these red-hued powerhouses, try golden beets! Their flavor isn’t as earthy as their red counterparts.

Avocado

Fats are friends, not foes! (Please tell me you’re imagining a shark…)

Yes, fats got a bad rap in the 1990s, but they’re incredibly beneficial to runners. Fat provides energy. Although our body’s main source of energy is carbohydrates, when those stores run low, our bodies run on fats instead. There are certain vitamins as well, that need fat to be metabolized and properly absorbed. Fat is also loaded with beneficial fiber, and fiber helps keep the tubes running properly and smoothly.

Avocado Toast

Whether you pile on the guacamole to your toast, add avocado to your dinner, hide avocado in a batch of brownies or simply add some into your smoothie, avocados

Ginger/Turmeric

Both ginger and turmeric, either ground or fresh, have anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger is a warming spice and it has antiseptic properties. It can also promote circulation throughout the body. Turmeric can be used as a medicinal herb and it can drastically increase the anti-oxidant capacity of the body.

Sprinkle liberally in spices or stews, add a fresh chunk into your morning smoothie or add a thin slice to tea as it steeps. 

When it comes to turmeric, also add some black pepper (Yes…even in smoothies!) to help with the absorption of the turmeric.

Coconut Water

During a long run, a runner’s electrolyte stores run dry, and they need replenished. Electrolytes are minerals that help stimulate the muscles and nerves. They also help regulate the body’s fluids which can affect blood pressure, blood volume and cell function.

Most runners and athletes reach for an over-sugared sports drink. They’re often handed out at races, too. In addition to having a sugary punch and artificial colors, they are nutritionally void.  Coconut water is nature’s sports drink.

Coconut water, the clear liquid inside a coconut, is higher in naturally-occurring electrolytes than sports drinks, and is also lower in sugar. It’s incredibly hydrating and very versatile.

Add it to smoothies, fill up your hand-held waterbottle, or make your own sports drink!

Next time you run to the grocery store to grab these foods, read up on some of my favorite grocery store tips! Download my FREE guide.

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