Runners have specific dietary needs in order to provide the fuel needed to run. Choosing the wrong types of foods can result in low energy and difficulty completing workouts. Carbohydrates, proteins and fats are key components to a runner’s diet. While runners may consume more calories than the average person, many of the general guidelines for a healthy diet can be applied to a runner’s diet.
Complex carbohydrates are slowly absorbed into the body, providing a steady source of energy. This allows a runner to maintain her energy throughout a workout. Carbohydrates are stored in the cells and serve as the body’s fuel. If a runner does not consume enough complex carbohydrates, her energy will falter. Complex carbohydrates are found in foods such as cereal, bread, pasta and vegetables.
Fat is a necessary part of any diet. The type of fats you choose can impact your energy and your overall healthy. Unsaturated fats are the best choice to add to your diet as a runner. Olive oil, avocados, and nuts are examples of foods that contain fats that can be healthy in moderation. Saturated fats can cause heart and other health problems. Fats should make up approximately 20 to 25 percent of a runner’s caloric intake.
Protein is an essential component to a runner’s diet. Protein works to build and repair bones and tissue, which is very important to a runner. Too little protein in her diet may cause a runner to fatigue easily. Protein is found in many foods such as fish, lean meat, nuts, whole grains, eggs, beans and low-fat dairy products. A runner should have a protein intake of about 10 to 15 percent of her total calories.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are an important component of any diet. Runners will benefit from the vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates in fruits and vegetables which will help fuel a runner’s workout. Fruits and vegetables are also generally low in calories, allowing a runner to fill up and control weight at the same time. The skins of fruits and vegetables are full of nutrients, so don’t remove them if possible.
Low-fat dairy offers essential calcium that helps build strong bones needed by a runner. The protein in dairy products helps speed recovery of the muscles used by runners. Dairy products may also help lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure. It has also been shown to help lose weight. The benefits of dairy products make them a good choice for a runner’s diet.