What we eat before, during and after each run significantly impacts our running performance and overall health. We should think of our diet as a major part of our training. Failing to support our required nutrients and nutritional needs will lead to lower performance, burnout, fatigue, muscle soreness or injuries. Our healthy daily diet should include the most nutrient-dense foods, high-quality carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats as well as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These top runners’ superfoods are full of all these nutrients, vitamins and minerals. To include some of these foods in your regular diet will make it a healthy clean diet, to support your performance and overall health.
1. BeansBeans are high in protein, which helps speeding up recovery and muscle building. They are also a great source of energy. A great superfood for vegan runners. One cup provides 30-40g of complex, slow-release carbohydrates.
2. LentilsLentils are a great metabolic powerhouse. They are full of iron, which is an essential nutrient for runners. Iron deficiency causes extreme fatigue, weaker immune system and dizziness. Lentils are high in vitamin B, potassium and several other nutrients.
3. AvocadosAvocado is a powerful fruit, super rich in monounsaturated fats (healthy fat), which is good for our heart health, and it keeps us more satiated. Avocados can help lower the levels of artery-clogging LDL (bad cholesterol). It can also increase the levels of HDL (good cholesterol). Avocados contain 20 essential nutrients, including vitamin E, vitamin B, potassium, choline (macronutrient that supports energy levels and brain function. Make sure you don’t eat a full avocado, the recommendation daily is 1/4 or maximum 1/2 an avocado. A full avocado contains 220 calories and 20g of monounsaturated fats.
4. EggsEggs are one of the best sources of protein. They contain all the essential amino acids, which helps speed up recovery and support vital bodily functions. Eggs are rich in vitamin K and choline, they also lower the risk of heart diseases and help with weight loss. A great source of protein for runners.
5. Sweet PotatoesThis superfood is full of beta-carotene, an antioxidant which is a vital nutrient for athletes. It contains high levels of vitamin A (good for eye health, preventing sun damage), and vitamin C which helps fight running-induced free-radicals. One cup of sweet potatoes contains about 55g of carbohydrates, good for energy fueling.
6. BlueberriesThese are full of antioxidants, one of the highest fruits full of this nutrient to fight free-radicals. Blueberries are also rich in manganese, which is a mineral that converts carbs, protein and fats into energy.
7. KaleThis leafy green has many benefits for reducing inflammation, crucial for runners. Kale is also one of the best sources of vitamin K, an essential nutrient for bone development, very efficient for runners doing a lot of high-intensity running. One serving of kale provides 700% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin K, 200% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C. It helps boost immunity to fight infections, viruses and colds, it is also high in vitamin A, B6, iron and calcium.
8. SpinachThis vegetable provides strength and power. Spinach contains nitrates, which are compounds that can boost the running performance by maximizing oxygen and nutrient delivery to the circulatory system and muscles. It also contains high levels of vitamin K, essential for the bone health and peptides which helps lower blood pressure. It is also full of vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and iron.
9. Wild SalmonFull of protein and Omega-3s, this nutrient-rich fish contains 30g of protein in 114g serving. Salmon is also high in selenium, an antioxidant that supports cardiovascular health. The sources of Omega 3’s help reduce post-workout inflammation. This is ideal for recovery and improve athletic performance.
10. WatercressThis superfood is on the top of the list of nutrient-dense foods, even higher than kale and blueberries, so to combine it with blueberries would be the highest level of nutrients. It also contains high levels of antioxidants and vitamin K, and low in calories.
11. WalnutsThese nuts are one of the best energizing snacks you can eat. They are full of Omega-3s acid ALA, which can reduce the type of inflammation that damages arteries. ALA can reduce the risk of bone damage. Walnuts can also reduce LDL cholesterol levels (bad cholesterol), similar benefits as avocados. Walnuts are also high in fiber, vitamin B and vitamin E.
Eat Well, Feel Great, Run Strong!