Runners need to choose nutritious foods consistently to perform and recover as best they can. This applies to all runners, not just high-mileage runners.
I wrote about 17 nutrient-dense foods runners should incorporate into their diet. There’s a special emphasis on calcium, iron, vitamin E, vitamin D, vitamin C and omega-3’s.
SALMON: Rich in omega-3 fats. My favorite way to season is with a little pure maple syrup, cayenne, black pepper and dash of salt.
SPINACH: Excellent source of calcium, iron, potassium, vitamins B (all), C, E and K.
KALE: Significant source of vitamins A, C and K; also contributes iron, fiber and calcium.
BEANS: Beans are a great source of fiber, iron, potassium, protein and many other minerals. Eat a variety of them. You can’t make a bad choice, but kidney beans, black-eyed peas and garbanzo beans are awesome picks!
ALMONDS: These have significantly more vitamin E than any other nut or seed. There are few foods that have lots of this vitamin, which is also an antioxidant.
GRASS-FED BEEF: An excellent source of the iron you need! Buy grass fed, organic for high quality beef. Trader Joe’s has frozen grass-fed beef for $5.99/pound.
LENTILS: Here, you get iron, potassium, fiber, protein, zinc and many other essential vitamins and minerals. Here is one of my all-time favorite recipes for lentils!
YOGURT: Buy Organic plain yogurt. Buy regular-fat or low-fat. Leave that fat-free yogurt on the shelf. Add fruit. All flavored yogurt has too much added sugar, including vanilla. Yogurt is rich in probiotics, which help to balance your digestive system; also contains calcium, protein, potassium, vitamin B12 and other vitamins and minerals.
CITRUS: Most citrus (grapefruit, kiwi, pineapple, oranges) is an excellent source of vitamin C. Don’t forget about tomatoes!
EGGS: Great source of protein. Eat the entire egg to make sure you get the vitamin D in the egg yolk. I eat 2 or 3 eggs at a time, and I always buy Organic. Shell color doesn’t mean a thing.
FLAXSEED: Another great source of omega-3 fats, as well as fiber, magnesium and phosphorus. Add a little scoop to your oatmeal or your shake.
SUNFLOWER SEEDS: Eat these to get vitamin E, “good” fats, magnesium, fiber, and selenium. Trader Joe’s sells a 16-ounce bag for $1.99. BEST SNACK DEAL EVER.
WALNUTS: Fantastic source of omega-3 fats. Also has vitamin E, manganese, iron, and phosphorus.
MILK: Great source of many nutrients including calcium, vitamin B12 and D, phosphorus, riboflavin and vitamin A. If you don’t tolerate cow’s milk, try goat’s milk or unsweetened almond milk (this won’t have the same nutrients, though). Buy Organic.
SWEET POTATOES: Excellent choice! Get fiber, lots of vitamin A, vitamin C, B6 and potassium, as well as many others. Skip the brown sugar. Add salsa.
SQUASH: Nutritious moderate-carbohydrate source. Lots of fiber, iron, vitamin C, magnesium and many other vitamins and minerals. Butternut squash, acorn squash and spaghetti squash are my top 3 favorites.
BERRIES: Raspberries and blackberries have more fiber than any other fruit. All berries are a great source of antioxidants (including vitamin C). Choose Organic when you can. Buy frozen berries when your faves are not in season. Trader Joe’s has delicious raspberries and berry blends!
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