Since I started running and training I have began to pay more attention to the type of food that I eat. What I learned in the very beginning is that what you eat will have an impact on your body, including the energy level and your endurance. Whether you are a beginner or a professional athlete, a well-balanced diet is prerequisite to your performance.
What should be included in an runner’s diet?
A balanced diet should consist of all the necessary nutrients needed in the body. One thing that makes dieting a challenge to athletes is that our bodies tend to be delicate. When there is no proper supply of required nutrients in the body, we tend to perform poorly on the tracks.
That said, here is a look at the necessary nutrients you should include in your meals.
Carbohydrates supply your body with the necessary power for the working muscles. Ideally, consume carbs before, during, and after exercising. This will help to boost and maintain the energy level, boost the recovery period, and delay fatigue. If you engage in intense training, the carbohydrates foods should be more than 50% of the total energy intake.
Proteins are also vital in your body, and they are building blocks for the tissues and muscles in the body. Nestle discourages the intake of protein supplements. Natural protein sources are the best, and they include legumes, dairy products, and meats.
This is another great source of energy needed for an athlete’s meal. Other than that, fat supplies the body with essential fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins. Keep in mind that the fat intake should be limited. Also, only consume low-fat meals; whether you are a beginner or an experienced athlete.
Natural fats are the most suggested, and you can find them in nuts, olive oils, avocados, canola, and seeds.
Iron is vital because it helps to supply oxygen to the body. How does this happen? Most of the iron in the body is found in hemoglobin, which transfers oxygen from the lungs to the tissues. So when the iron intake is high, the oxygen levels will also be boosted.
You can get iron from animal foods or plant foods. Animal-based iron is called Haem iron, and they are absorbed quickly by the body. Conversely, plant-based iron is also known as non-haem iron, and they are poorly absorbed.
Luckily, you can boost the absorption of plant-based iron by adding foods rich in vitamin C, such as kiwi fruits, or citrus juices and fruits. Female athletes should increase the intake of iron because much of it is lost during menstration.
vitamins & minerals
These nutrient groups help to make your body physical active. They help to relax and contract the muscles, and also trigger the body to utilize energy absorbed from fat, protein, and carbs. Ensure that the mineral and vitamin intake are well-balanced. Fruits, vegetables, and selected seeds are great sources of minerals and vitamins.
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a Few Good Recipes for Athletes (& us Non-Athletes) in Training
These are just a few general recipes that you can make at home. I would not recommend anything that I have not tried myself, the chicken and veggies are my fave.
Eggs with Avocado and Veggies
To prepare, take two eggs for natural protein and fat supply. You can then choose to fry, hard boil, steam, poach, or scramble the egg on low heat to maintain the proteins and prevent oxidation.
- Eggs (2-3 depending on how prep'ed)
- 1 Avacado
- Dark Leafy Greens
Add a dark leafy greens-serving, which can be kale, spinach, mustard greens, or Swiss chard. You can choose to heat the greens with the eggs or do it separately. After that, add one or a half slice of avocado. Adding sea salt and pepper will make it tasty.
Morning Super Smoothie
This smoothie contains high levels of sugar and natural fats. It is a perfect recipe if you need a meal that will match your intense exercise.
- Natural Yogurt
- Chia Seeds
- Frozen Fruits
Once you have them assembled, prepare them accordingly and toss them in your blender. Once blended, enjoy!
(Not sure what Chia Seeds are? There are some really great Chia Seed benefits for runners in this post. )
Smoothies/shakes are great, and it keeps me feeling feeling energized after a few minutes. It is also free of gluten and can be a perfect choice for vegetarians.
Roasted Chicken & Veggies
Here, you will need to roast some chicken thighs and prepare them with veggies to balance the nutrients. If you are an athlete that wants to enjoy a good meal after relaxing with a drink, this can be a great choice for you. This meal will take like 55 minutes to prepare, and will make two servings.
- 2 Chicken Thighs
- Dijon Musturd
- Chopped Rosemary
- Sweet Potatoes
- Olive Oil
- Brussel Sprouts/Onions
To prepare, start by preheating the oven to 450 degrees, then roast the potatoes and brussel sprouts/onions in the pan with a little olive oil. (I've tried both the sprouts and onions and they are delicious!) After that, rub the Dijon mustard on the chicken thighs, then sprinkle over salt and rosemary.
Remember to season the chicken as the oven is heating up to save time. When the chicken thighs are seasoned, roast in the pan along with the veggies, then put them in the oven for 35 minutes. Increase the oven heat to 450 degrees and wait to enjoy your finger-licking crisp meal.
Sweet Potato Soup
This soup is not only easy to make, but it is also one delicious meal you can have as an athlete. I have included it in my diet severally, and I always enjoy preparing it. The soup only takes like 15 minutes to prepare.
- 2 Large Sweet Potatoes
- 2 Cloves of Garlic
- Half Yellow Onion
- Vegetable or Chicken Stock
- Heavy Cream
Endurance Zone, lays down how easy it is to prepare this amazing soup that is also a great energy source that an athlete needs. You might want to consider this drink if you are a vegan.
Chicken Cashew Wrap
Chicken is not only tasty, but it is a great choice for lean protein that is needed in the body. You can choose this recipe for your dinner and have leftovers refrigerated. Preparing it is not difficult, though it might take some time.
- 2 Diced Chicken Breasts
- 1 Avacado
- Small Tomatoes
- Healthy Mayo
To make your own mayo, simple blend one egg, add a tablespoon of lemon juice, salt and pepper, then add a cup of olive, avocado or macadamia oil.
When I was preparing my chicken cashew wrap, I started by mixing the baked chicken breast, grape tomatoes, a tablespoon of mayo, a scoop of cashew nuts, avocado, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl. After that, I topped with fresh arugula and wrapped them all in a butter lettuce cup.
Pasta with Corn
This is another amazing meal for an athlete, and it only takes like fifteen minutes to prepare. I added some amount of cheese and fresh pasta to allow the ingredients to stick together. This also prevents the corn from falling to the bottom of the bowl.
- 2 ears of Corn
- 1/2 of an red Onion
- Chili Flakes
- Parmesan Cheese
To prepare start by boiling water in a pot, then put a skillet to medium heat.
As the skillet is heating, start chopping the onions as you remove the corn from the cob. Place them in the skillet then add butter and salt. Cook for about four minutes until the onions are translucent. After the water boils, prepare the pasta for about four minutes and put half of the now-ready veggies in a food processor.
When the pasta is ready, drain the water and pour a cup of the water in the corn blend. Puree it for some time then pour the mixture in the skillet after you bring back the heat to medium. Add butter, followed by the pasta, after the butter melts. Chop in some basil and your meal will be ready.
The world famous Dr. Axe shares with insights for choosing the right meal to boost your performance as an athlete.
QUICK DIETING TIPS FOR US NON-ATHLETES IN TRAINING
- Never exercise on an empty stomach
- Always include salt in your meals (just don’t use too much of it)
- Drink plenty of water to keep you hydrated
- Always have a nutritious meal an hour after every intense workout.
- Consume carbs every hour during your exercise to maintain the energy levels.
These are just a few recipes that you can include in your as part of your diet. Keep in mind that it is all about consuming a meal that balanced amounts of nutrients. One of my secrets of staying fit and have more endurance when exercising is the intake of natural nutrients. Avoid taking processed foods.
With a little guidance anyone can start eating healthier. To make it even easier for you, download our 28 Day Meal Plan so that you will have an entire month planned out for you that's delicious and fuel you for your runs.