As a runner, nutrition plays a vital role in stamina, speed and strength and can have a huge impact on your overall running ability. In fact, the foods that you choose to eat can be the difference between a season of personal bests and a stint of disappointments.

The benefits of running nutrition doesn’t just stop at competitive runners. Even for casual joggers or fun-run enthusiasts, nutrition could help you reach your peak and allow healthy recoveries.

Running nutrition should not be taken lightly, which is why we have created this short guide into runner’s nutrition. We will walk you through the best foods to eat, the key nutrients that all runners need and how to implement running nutrition into your everyday diet!

What are the best foods for running?

For best performance, runners need to feel fuelled without feeling heavy. This can be achieved by ensuring you include the right foods into your diet. The best types of food for running are high in quality carbohydrates as well as antioxidants and vitamins.

While there are many supplements available to help you perfect your running nutrition, it is possible to get all the fuel that you need from everyday foods.

Beans

Beans are considered a ‘superfood’ as they contain a high amount of fibre, protein, and slow burning carbs. These nutrients are essential for runners, who need to release energy slowly throughout running and recover quickly after a period of exercise.

Just one cup of beans is enough to provide major benefits to your running health. As well as aiding running performance, beans have also been known to present over-eating and improve blood sugar control.

Avocados

Avocados contain more than 20 vital nutrients! The popular snack is also high in potassium, which is ideal for regulating heart and muscle contractions as you run. As avocados are high in calories, they are an excellent source of energy for long-distance runners who need long-lasting fuel.

Sweet potatoes

Just one cup of sweet potato contains around 55 grams of carbohydrates, great for a pre-race meal! They are also rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene along with vitamins A and C. Eating sweet potatoes before a race will give you all the energy that you need for around 1 hour of running.

Wild salmon

Wild salmon is known as the ‘king of fish’ due to its high nutritional value for athletes. A four-ounce serving of the fish contains roughly 30 grams of protein and is high in selenium, which promotes cardiovascular health. Salmon is also rich in omega-3s which have been known to reduce post-workout inflammation.

The staples of a good running diet

What do good running foods all have in common? They are all packed with key nutrients that should be the staple of any runner’s diet. There are hundreds of different nutrients found in the foods we eat, and runners should focus on primarily eating nutrients that will assist strength, speed, stamina, and recovery.

Collagen

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. The nutrient can assist runners by protecting soft tissue whilst running and enhancing recovery. Just as Absolute Collagen states, collagen provides “structural support, strength and a degree of elasticity” to the body. So, you can see how useful it may be for runners in case an injury occurs!

Protein

Protein is a key part of running nutrition that helps to repair muscle after a workout. For runners, it is recommended that protein makes up around 20% of your diet and the nutrient can be found in a range of foods including lean meats, nuts, eggs, and beans.

Carbohydrates

Runners need slow-release carbohydrates to provide fuel during a race. Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy for aerobic exercise and are used to create glucose. Experts recommend filling around 50% to 60% of your diet with carbohydrates and to focus on slow-release carbs that will release throughout your run.

Water

Hydration is just as important as food when it comes to running nutrition. Dehydration could lead to muscle cramps, decreased coordination and fatigue, which can slow your running performance. Aim to drink at least 2 litres of water each day and even more on intense training days.

Reaching your daily nutrition goals is a great way to improve running performance and prevent injury. There are many ways that you can get the right nutrition from everyday foods, but supplements can also help to achieve your goals. Runners should focus on the essential nutrients and ensure that they are eating enough food to keep themselves fuelled.