NUTRITION: THE ELITE RUNNER’S DIET

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By Darren Croft

 

Most runners want to go faster or further, to find a way to improve on their previous performance. When I first got bit by the running bug and noticed my times starting to improve, I felt compelled to eat a more wholesome diet. For the first time in my life, I was actively watching everything I consumed to ensure it was good for me. Further research found the same foods being recommended time and time again; the right balance of protein and carbs is essential.

 

Here’s my pick of the best foods to have your running tank full of premium fuel. 

 

1- BANANAS

As far as the taste goes, I’m personally not a big fan of bananas, so I tend to get creative. 

If you need a high-carb energy booster, a banana is perfect. Try chopping them up and mixing with your morning oats. 

 

2- OATS

Oatmeal is the perfect breakfast when you want to go out for a run afterwards. After years of the same breakfast, I’m still not bored of it. The perfect synergy of comforting and satiating and there’s a limitless plethora of ways to elevate your oats with toppings and flavors. 

 

3- WHOLE-GRAIN PASTA

For as long as I can remember, this has been the staple of the endurance runner’s diet. The pre-London Marathon pasta dinners are legendary. Perfect for carb-loading.

 

4- PEANUT BUTTER

For compulsive snackers looking to eat a healthier diet and stay in the zone, this is your new go-to! It gives you a slow, sustained release of energy and is also good for your heart. 

 

5- DARK CHOCOLATE

Controversial for some, chocolate has two properties that make it good for your workout—carbs and antioxidants. Milk chocolate is fine, but dark contains less sugar. Research has shown that chocolate can increase your VO2 max. Have in moderation though, over-indulgence may lead to weight gain and heading in the wrong direction.

 

6- BROCCOLI

Love it or hate it, it’s a fantastic choice. Broccoli contains quercetin, which helps reduce muscle inflammation. It also has an abundance of vitamin C (great for immunity and recovery) and K (beneficial for heart health). If you’re not a big fan, try a hack by mixing it in with your pasta.

After eating, always leave at least an hour before a run to ensure your food is digested and you’re not running on a full stomach.

 

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