A healthy and balanced diet is essential if you’re going to take up running and improve your performance. The right foods are necessary for keeping in shape, and running faster and longer, and boosting your energy levels.
It’s essential to have a balanced diet and eat 4 or 5 times a day if you’re running. Depending on your goals, you might need to eat more of certain foods. Here are five energy foods that every runner should be squeezing in their diet. These are my top 5 energy foods that improve your running.
1. Lean Meat
When you run, you’ll need a range of energy sources, and one of those is protein. Lean meats such as chicken, turkey, and ham are all fantastic sources of protein. The great thing about these meats is that fat is minimal. Fats are essential to include in a healthy diet, but those in red meats such as beef, are not as healthy. Lean meats are excellent ways to get protein in your system, both before and after running.
I usually try to have protein, mixed with some carbohydrates for breakfast as it gives me that energy for my run. Then I eat protein throughout the day for lunch, snacks, and also for dinner. If you are running long distances, then your muscles will need protein to recover and grow.
2. Pasta and rice
Your muscles need plenty of carbs if you are running, exceptionally long distances. Carbs will provide your body with energy as you are running and pasta and rice are excellent sources. There is little fat in them too, plus they are economical. If you’re trying to lose weight through running, then have smaller portions as they are high in calories.
Recently I’ve been having a small bowl of rice in the morning for breakfast, with some chopped ham. It gives me plenty of energy for when I’m out on the road. For lunch, pasta is an excellent option as you’ll replenish those muscles. I try to steer clear of them for dinner as they tend to sit on my stomach too much, but I eat late, but it might suit you.
Any vegetables are an excellent source of energy and vitamins. Whether you eat carrots, potatoes, green beans, or sprouts.
Vegetables provide your body with various vitamins, and if you’re running 3 or 4 times a week, you’ll need to build up energy sources with these foods. They are also crucial for a healthy diet and to stop you getting ill during the winter months.
The great thing about vegetables is that they are also low in calories and fat, so if you’re trying to lose weight by running, they are a perfect option. You can fill yourself up with vegetables and shed those pounds. But it’s essential to have a balanced diet too, always add some source of protein.
Spinach is an excellent option as its high in protein and fibre. Recently I’ve been eating fresh spinach in a salad in the evening for a light meal. It’s great with tomatoes, peppers, onions, and also some cheese or ham for your protein.
4. Protein shakes
There are so many types of protein shakes on the market these days, and you can shop around to find some real bargains. The great thing about shakes is that they work out economic per shake; something like 50 cents.
They are full of protein, typically about 20 grams per shake, and provide your body with a perfect source of energy either before or after your run.
You can mix them with water, or milk, depending on your taste, and there is a massive range of flavours. My favourite is the banana, and I usually have one after my run. I pour mine over some Weetabix as well for a low fat snack full of protein and carbs.
The last in our list of 5 energy foods that improve your running is bananas, they are high in potassium, and are vital for any runner. Have one about 30 minutes before you run for that extra energy boost, or eat them after to replenish your energy levels.
They are economical, full of goodness, and quick to eat, plus you hardly have to prepare anything, just peel off the skin and pop it in. They are also a great way to rehydrate your body after sweating out so much during your run.
So, there are five essential energy foods that every runner should include in their healthy diet. As I said above, it’s essential to get a balanced diet, so try to vary your food intake and try different foods. Make sure you are well fed before and after your run for maximum performance.
These are our five energy foods that improve your running, which are your top energy foods? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter. Also, check out how running can improve your mental health. Happy running!