What are the best nutritional choices that long-distance runners should make?

Nutrition Blog

A good race hinges on a lot more than just your training that you do to prepare. To improve your speed as well as your performance, it is necessary for you also to consider what you are putting into your body and if you’re adhering to proper nutrition principles. The correct foods at the right time can help to boost your running performance enormously. In addition to this, you will decrease your risk of sustaining injury and illness.

Most commercial supermarkets sell more than 30 000 items, however, every time we mission up and down the aisles of the grocery store, we usually put the same 10 to 15 foods into our shopping carts. This isn’t such a terrible thing, as long as you’re buying the right foods, in other words, the ones that will keep you healthy, fuel peak performance, and easily makeup lots of delicious meals. However, for runners food is about more than just pure nutrition principles. Food is considered to be fuel:

  • You need to plan carefully in terms of what you should eat before, during and after your runs.
  • When you are training for a long race you will have to decide how you will change how you eat.

What should be in every long-distance runner’s pantry

  1. Bananas

If require need a high-carb energy booster prior to your afternoon run, choose a banana. This fruit also holds a healthy dose of potassium (about 400 mg). The energy boost that you will be getting is especially vital for long-distance runs or marathons in hot temperatures when you are likely to sweat a lot and – as a result – lose valuable minerals. Potassium (in addition to other minerals such as sodium, magnesium and chloride) compensates for this deficiency and reduces your blood pressure simultaneously.

  1. Oats

Oatmeal is the best breakfast when you want to go running afterwards because it provides you with plenty of carbohydrates (one serving has about 25 g). In addition, oatmeal is high in fibre. Plus, oats have a low glycaemic index which means that they cause your blood sugar levels to rise slowly, provide you with energy over a more extended period and keep you having the sensation of feeling fuller for longer.

  1. Peanut butter

When we refer to ‘peanut butter’, we are talking about pure peanut butter that does not have additives such as sugar, salt or oil. This type of peanut butter is a good source of vitamin E, which is probably the most effective antioxidant among all of the vitamins.

Peanuts do contain a lot of fat and are, as a consequence, high in calories, these nuts consist of monounsaturated as well as polyunsaturated fatty acids which can help lower cholesterol levels in your blood. Plus, peanuts are essential for:

  • Strengthening your immune system,
  • Speeding up your post-run recovery, as well as
  • Preventing injuries.

Peanut butter also has a good deal of protein which makes it an ideal aid for assisting your muscles grow. Try putting peanut butter on whole-grain toast with banana slices and is also suitable as a snack together with a few slices of apple.

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  1. Broccoli

This green vegetable is jam-packed with vitamin C, which can help reduce the risk of – or even prevent – sore muscles following an intense workout. Broccoli is also a fabulous source of calcium, folic acid as well as vitamin K, which strengthens our bones.

  1. Plain yoghurt

Yoghurt is the best combination of carbohydrates and protein. It has a biological value of nearly 85 %, meaning that it has a high percentage of essential amino acids. (These substances cannot be synthesised by the body, which means that you need to get these from food).

If you eat yoghurt directly after a run, it can speed up your recovery and so protect your muscles. The calcium contained in it also strengthens your bones. An additional benefit of yoghurt is that it contains live lactic acid bacteria (probiotics) which stimulate your gut flora and thus boost your immune system. Having these bacteria in your system is vital for everybody and not just runners.

  1. Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate (that has at least 70% cacao) is the perfect treat because you don’t have to feel guilty afterwards. It can assist with lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. In addition, the flavanols (secondary metabolites) contained in this type of chocolate can help with reducing inflammation. What is the best thing about dark chocolate (other than the taste)? It puts you in a good mood. But here, as usual, it always comes down to portion size. Two or three squares are plenty. When combined with a handful of nuts, they can help you beat the mid-afternoon slump.

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