Tuesday, November 24, 2015

5 Foods to Improve Your Running Performance

With the great weather we've been having this fall, there is plenty of opportunity to keep your fitness routine going all the way up through the holidays. If you're a runner, living in a cold climate can often derail your exercise goals if you are not able to get outside and run as much for several months in the winter. You can still run indoors though, and when you do, make sure you're eating the right foods to stay on track!

There are a few things you may already know about food and your running performance. You may have realized, perhaps by learning the hard way, that it’s not good to eat right before you run. You may have also realized that some foods give you more energy than others. But what you might not realize is that food also has numerous health benefits, and when you choose the right foods it can enhance your running performance. Here are 5 to incorporate into your diet year-round.

#1. Nuts

(Image courtesy of zole4 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)
Nuts like almonds and pecans have three benefits for runners. They contain healthy omega fatty acids which reduce inflammation. Reduced inflammation means less irritation and pain in your muscles and joints. They also contain a healthy amount of protein which is needed for muscle repair. And during runs nuts are rich in fiber which digests slowly in your body and helps your blood sugar levels remain even.

#2. Quinoa

Perhaps you’ve heard about this wonder grain. Quinoa is a whole grain that is packed with protein. As a whole grain that means it is an excellent source of carbohydrates which runners need for energy. And the protein in quinoa helps your muscles repair after your run. When your body has a food source to turn to for muscle and cellular repair it results in fewer aches and pains.

#3. Coffee

Caffeine is a common ingredient in many sports nutrition drinks, gels, and bars. It provides a nice energy boost during your workout. Studies have also shown that people who consume caffeine before a race or a run have a lower perceived effort level. Meaning they don’t feel like they have to work as hard to achieve the same result. Take care though; some runners suffer from stomach distress if they consume coffee before a run - and moderation is always key. One cup of coffee is plenty.

(Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)
#4. Salmon

We’re back to those amazing omega three fatty acids. Salmon is one of the best sources for these fats. They reduce inflammation throughout your body including your lungs and heart too. Studies have shown that eating salmon reduces asthma symptoms. You can also take an omega three fatty acid supplement or try another cold water fish like cod.

#5. Steel Cut Oats

Steel cut oats are the unprocessed form of oatmeal. They take a bit longer to cook than your standard quick oats but they taste better too. Try them with nuts and berries for a breakfast that will keep you full and energized for your entire run. The carbohydrates from the oats are an excellent source of energy. The berries provide antioxidants and the nuts are rich with omega fatty acids and protein.

Experiment with different foods to find the pre and post workout meals that work best for you. As a runner you know the importance of providing your body with energy, so give it the best fuel possible with these five foods.

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