by: Anna K., SparkleSkirts Guest Blogger, Gracious Warrior Princess Blogger
Your diet is an important tool in maintaining good health as well as a necessary element in promoting peak performance. Proper nutrition and hydration for runners can make or break a workout or race. The food you eat greatly affects how you feel, work, and think.
A balanced diet for healthy runners should include these essentials: carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Be sure you communicate your health goals and consult your primary care physician or a licensed nutritionist or dietitian when making changes to your diet. I found keeping a food diary helps me to determine if I am eating well for my exercise, training and living needs.
Here are some basic guidelines for a nutritious, healthy balance:
Carbohydrates are the best source of energy for athletes. They provide quick and long-lasting energy. Our bodies work more efficiently with carbs than they do with proteins or fats. Whole grain pasta, steamed or boiled rice, potatoes, fruits, starchy vegetables, and whole grain breads are good carb sources.
Protein is used for some energy and to repair tissue damaged during training. Protein keeps you feeling full longer. Try to concentrate on protein sources that are low in fat and cholesterol such as lean meats, fish, dairy products (lower fat), poultry, whole grains, and beans.
A high fat diet can quickly pack on the pounds, so try to make sure you stick to foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Foods such as nuts, oils, and cold-water fish provide essential fats called omega-3s, which are vital for good health.
Runners don’t get energy from vitamins, but they are still an important part of their diet. Getting vitamins from whole foods is preferable to supplementation.
Calcium: A calcium-rich diet is essential for runners to prevent osteoporosis and stress fractures. Good sources of calcium include low-fat dairy products, calcium-fortified juices, dark leafy vegetables, beans, and eggs.
Iron: You need this nutrient to deliver oxygen to your cells. If you have an iron-poor diet, you’ll feel weak and fatigued, especially when you run. Good natural sources of iron include lean meats, leafy green vegetables, nuts, shrimp, and scallops.
Sodium and other electrolytes: Small amounts of sodium and other electrolytes are lost through sweat during exercise. Usually, electrolytes are replaced if you follow a balanced diet. But if you find yourself craving salty foods, it may be your body’s way of telling you to get more sodium. Try drinking a sports drink or eating some pretzels after exercise.
Finally, I utilize Runner's World Cookbook and Runner's World Meals on the Go, which have wonderful chapters on nutrition along with great recipes.
What are your go-to nutrition tips and tricks? Share them in the comments below!
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