Every runner knows that eating healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables, lean meat and nuts are good because they boosts our immune system, repairs working muscles and most importantly it provides energy for the run. Yes, the energy you need does not only come from energy bars, energy drinks, but do they come from real food as well. Most would argue that eating energy bars are far more convenient than eating real food, but by following the suggestions below, your body will get the dozens of nutrients it needs to become healthier and more optimized for running.
Believe it or not, you can get the most from your fruits and vegetables by looking at their colors. There is a wide range of spectrum to choose from, each pigment offering different health benefits. The red fruits and vegetables may contain lycopene (tomato), ellagic acid (strawberries) and Quercetin (apples, red onions) to name a few. These nutrients reduce the risk of certain cancers and lowers blood pressure. Moreover, orange and yellow pigmented fruits and vegetables may contain beta-carotene (apricots, carrots) that helps prevent night blindness and improves your memory; and vitamin C (oranges) which boosts the immune system. The green pigment has chlorophyll that reduces the risk of cancers and normalizes digestion time. The blue and violet pigment like in the case of grapes has resveratrol which is good for the heart.
And it is much better if you will eat these with the skin on. Aside from the added fiber, the skin has phytochemicals that lessens the risk of preventable diseases. Instead of using a peeler, it is smarter to just wash the produce thoroughly and when cooking in high heat to wrap it in foil to leave their skin intact.
A rule of thumb for runners: eat nine servings of rainbow daily. It means to get as much as five colors or more of produce in their plates. By following this regime, you can maximize your intake of essential vitamins and minerals.
In your daily diet, you should also include 4 to 5 servings of seeds. Studies have shown that seeds contain protein and essential fats, and also compounds that are antioxidants. Seeds help you maintain your body weight as well as it lowers the risk of Type 2 diabetes and certain type of cancers.
As for your source of protein, your best option will be from meat coming from free-range or grass-fed animals. Aside from protein, it is also a source of iron and zinc for healthier red blood cells and a stronger immune system. In preparing meat, make sure that you trim the fat and instead of frying, you can either grill it or bake it. Aim for 140 to 200 grams of lean meat daily along with the fruits and vegetables. Researchers report that eating a well-balanced diet will result in a lower risk of heart attack, vascular diseases and stroke.
Seafood is another vital source of protein. They are an excellent source of zinc, copper and chromium which are essential minerals that most runners lack. In choosing seafood, it is recommended that they come from deep cold regions. Fish like Salmon, Char, Mackerel, Sardines, Cod, and Oysters are great examples. The reason is that they contain more Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3 benefits include better brain development, a healthier heart, and protection against joint pain, fewer headaches and many other health benefits. It is recommended that you eat at least two servings per week.
Another product from animals that is highly nutritious is milk. Milk supplies calcium and whey. These two gives the immune system a boost while lowering the blood pressure and lessening the risk of heart diseases. Fermented milk products like yoghurt and cheese have live bacteria that also strengthen our immune system. It is best to eat two to three servings of low-fat dairy daily and 1 serving of fermented milk product.
Wrapping it all up, eating nutritiously for runners is as easy as it is fun. The variety of the different sources of nutrients should prepare the runner for even the hardest training regimen.