Fresh and Whole Foods Provide Good Overall Nutrition; Carbs Work Best Pre-Run, Says Sam Cover Spokane Valley
Runners need good nutrition for health and performance. Knowing what to include in your day-to-day diet, as well as what to eat before and after runs can help you meet your goals, says chef and runner Sam Cover Spokane Valley.
A balanced diet for runners typically includes carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals. In general, a runner’s diet should include about 50 to 75 percent carbs, 10 to 35 percent protein, and no more than 20 to 35 percent fats. Sprinters tend to need more carbs, while endurance runners need more protein. Runners need vitamins C and E to neutralize free radicals that are produced through exhaustive exercise and can damage cells. They also need lots of calcium and iron. Foods such as whole-grain pasta and bread, oats, fresh fruits, potatoes, beans, seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, yogurt, nuts, and leafy green vegetables should make up the bulk of a runner’s daily diet, says Sam Cover Spokane Valley.
A pre-run meal is usually eaten between two and three hours before the run; the best time varies with the individual but also depends upon the length of the run and how much you will eat, according to Sam Cover Spokane Valley. Runners typically learn the best timing and meals for them by trial and error but generally, pre-run meals will be high in carbs, moderate in protein, and low in fat and fiber, says Sam Cover Spokane Valley. Runners should also drink about 20 ounces of water pre-workout. An easy run may require about 15 grams of carbs; a marathon might require as many as 75 carbs, including a mid-run snack. Foods to avoid before a run include beans, high-fiber whole grains, and broccoli. Some examples of a good pre-run meal are:
- Oatmeal and berries
- Scrambled egg whites and two pieces of white toast with jam
- Turkey on a white bagel with 30 grapes
- Banana and nut butter on toast
While some runners choose sports drinks or gels during long runs, those who prefer whole foods may choose bananas, grapes, raisins, or gummy bears to replace glycogen, says Sam Cover Spokane Valley. Hydration also is important.
Eating after a run replaces lost glycogen and fluids and rebuilds muscle fibers. Fruits and vegetables, such as beet salad, watermelon, a veggie omelet, greek yogurt with fruit, or apples or bananas with nut butter are good choices for weight loss. High-protein meals that build muscle include whey protein shakes, grilled chicken with roasted vegetables, low-fat cottage cheese and fruit, and chocolate milk, says Sam Cover Spokane Valley. Water is important, as well.