Whether you are training to run an ultramarathon, are gearing up for your next marathon, want to partake in your first 5k, or are looking to eat healthier and want to follow a runner’s diet, you need to be nutritionally prepared.
A vital part of ongoing training or working out is proper nutrition, so it’s not something that you need to do in the few weeks before a race or physically demanding event, but all of the time.
We’ve put together a list of foods that will fuel peak performance, keep you healthy, and are easy to cook and include in your diet. So, the next time you go grocery shopping, make sure to add these items to your cart.
You should be eating almonds at least three times a week, as they are a fantastic source of Vitamin E, which a lot of us are deficient in as there are few good sources. Eating nuts a few times a week can lower cholesterol levels, therefore decreasing your risk for heart problems. Gamma-tocopherol, the form of vitamin E found in nuts, can also help prevent cancer.
How to include it in your diet: Add almonds to your morning cereal, pasta dishes, or salads. For a healthy and tasty snack, mix them with chocolate bits, soy nuts, and dried fruit, or have a whole wheat toast with nut butter.
Eggs are a fantastic source of protein, as one egg will meet 10% of your daily protein requirement. Egg protein contains all the essential amino acids needed by your muscles to promote faster recovery. This powerhouse food is also great for healthy bones, as they have vitamin K, and healthy eyes, as they contain lutein. If you’re worried about cholesterol, don’t be; the type of cholesterol found in eggs does not increase your risk of heart disease.
How to include it in your diet: Eggs are super versatile and can be eaten at any time during the day, be they fried, poached, scrambled or boiled. They can also be included in wraps, burritos or sandwiches.
A single sweet potato will give you more than 250% of your daily requirement of vitamin A, as they contain the powerful antioxidant beta-carotene. Sweet potatoes are also an excellent source of iron, potassium, and vitamin C, as well as the two trace minerals copper and manganese. Being low in these two trace minerals impacts your performance, as they are vital for healthy muscle function.
How to include it in your diet: You can bake, boil or microwave sweet potatoes, and eat them by themselves or top them with low-fat cheese, bean chili, or veggies. They can even be a great substitute for fries, as you can bake them as disks or wedges and sprinkle them with rosemary and olive oil for a healthy and great tasting alternative.
A lot of us don’t have the time to cook beans, so canned black beans are fine, just make sure they don’t have any added salt or sugar. A cup of black beans will give you 60% of your daily value for fiber, 30% of your daily value for protein, and 60% of your daily value for folate, which is a vitamin B aiding in circulation and heart health.
Black beans are also an excellent source of antioxidants, which helps reduce your cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease. As if that weren’t enough, these legumes also have a low GI (glycemic index), meaning they won’t spike your blood sugar, as their carbohydrates are released slowly and steadily, increasing instead of depleting your energy.
How to include them in your diet: Make a dip for veggies out of mashed beans and salsa, spread them onto a whole wheat or corn tortilla, make soup out of black beans, veggie stock, and frozen veggies, or add them to rice for extra protein or fiber.
Nutritionally speaking, salmon tops the list when it comes to fish. It’s a fantastic source of protein, and an excellent source of omega-3 fats, which is an essential fat that helps to balance the inflammation response of your body. If you’re limiting the amount of fish you eat because you’re worried about PCB or mercury contamination, look for wild or farm-raised salmon.
How to include it in your diet: Poach, grill, or bake salmon with a citrus zest and fresh herbs. Any leftovers or canned salmon is fantastic on top of a pizza, tossed into pasta or on top of salads.
To stop your berries from spoiling, opt for a bag of frozen berries. Anthocyanins, a powerful group of antioxidants, are the colorful compounds that make raspberries red, blackberries purple, and blueberries blue. These antioxidants may help stave off some cancers and Alzheimer’s disease, and they can also aid in muscle repair and post-run recovery. Frozen berries don’t lose any nutritional value, and they keep a lot longer than fresh ones, so they can always be readily available.
How to include it in your diet: An excellent base for any smoothie is frozen berries, and you can use them straight from your freezer. If you prefer to eat them whole, then you can thaw them and add them to oatmeal or yogurt.