Oats are high in soluble fiber, complex carbohydrates, are a good source of protein and have a low glycemic index, which provides a sustained release of energy into the bloodstream- crucial for runners. Oats offer your body the required doses of vitamin B, some minerals and antioxidants. Oats help maintain a good level of cholesterol in the body, and is one of the most nourishing foods for the body, especially runners. Oats provide runners with energy without causing a blood sugar crash, it even helps to repair and refuel your muscles. Oats are higher in beneficial nutrients than some other healthy grains such as brown rice. Choosing the healthiest version of oats is very important (not instant oats), make sure you use plain oats, rolled oats, or steel-cut oats which are the healthiest option. For people following a gluten-free diet, organic gluten-free oats is another top choice.
Why should runners eat Oats?
B Vitamins: B vitamins are important for a healthy metabolism, energy, brain health and muscle function. Oats are high in vitamin B complex, including vitamin B3, B5, B6, B7 and vitamin B9. The only vitamin B oats do not contain is B12. Half a cup of oats will provide energy for hours with great quality vitamin B.
Magnesium: Runners need high levels of this mineral every day. Especially long-distance runners who need to recover properly post-training or racing. Magnesium is essential to help relieve sore muscles, help repair and regrowth of muscle cells, and help lower cortisol levels in the body, the stress hormone that is elevated during training or everyday stress. Cortisol is helpful during training when you need speed strength and adrenaline, but you don’t want your cortisol levels to stay elevated too long post-training. Magnesium helps to relax, helps to stabilize a healthy nervous system, and it also stimulates neurotransmitters in the brain that fuel focus. A lack of magnesium can cause fatigue, lead to insomnia and cause inflammation that affects a runner’s training and recovery. Oats (1/2 cup dry oats) contains 275mg of magnesium.
Protein: One serving of oats (1/2 cup dry oats) contain as much protein (7g) as one egg, which is an important food for runners, especially vegan runners. Steel-cut oats (1/2 cup dry oats) contain even more protein (8-9g). Oats are an easy way to add protein to your smoothie, breakfast, snack or even meals (savory oats recipes).
Iron: Oats contain about 4mg of iron per serving (1/2 cup). That is almost 1/3 of the daily recommendation (18%). Adding some vitamin C rich- foods such as berries, greens, lemon, oranges, apple, kiwi, helps to boost the absorption of this important mineral, which endurance runners are often depleted of. Long-distance runners need iron to maintain their energy level, you can add some plant-based sources to your meals such as oats, greens, chia seeds, spirulina, beans, legumes and even raw cacao nibs.
Beta glucans: Soluble fibres found in oats that benefit the body in many ways. Beta glucans help to keep you feeling full, helps to remove cholesterol from the bloodstream. This is very helpful for athletes to stay energized, healthy, and withstand through long, grueling training sessions. Oats is also one of the best foods to reduce excess abdominal weight.
To prepare your oats the healthiest way, make it with unsweetened non-dairy milk (almond, coconut, cashew) instead of water, add some simple spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, turmeric. Top your oats with banana, berries or other fruits. You can make a super easy and healthy savory oats bowl. Add some avocado, pumpkin seeds, nuts, chia seeds, an egg or salmon, or tuna, for vegan runners some tofu or tempeh with some greens. Focus on adding the following nutrients; protein, healthy fats, calcium, and fruits or greens, which will provide greater satiety and a boost of energy.
Train Hard, Eat Right, Feel Great!