FOODS EVERY RUNNER SHOULD EAT
How about making a promise to yourself that you’re only going to put healthy, energy-boosting foods into your body this training season?
To help you get started, here’s a list of foods you should stock up on the next time you hit the grocery store. Make a resolution to try out each of these foods by the time the marathon rolls around, and see which ones works best for your body.
Foods every runner should eat:
1. Quick-cooking quinoa (made by “Seeds of Change”): Found at any grocery store in the healthy aisles, this pre-packaged whole grain cooks in just 15 minutes and is full of calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and copper. Quinoa is a complete protein (unlike most other grains). It is a great carbohydrate source that won’t raise your blood sugar like white rice or white pasta. Try it with tomatoes, spinach, peppers, and scallions for a tasty, fast treat. You’ll find this booked grain in the aisle with the cous cous and brown rice.
2. Organic nut butter (try peanut, almond, cashew or tahini): Unlike Skippy or Jiffy, organic nut butter does not contain added sugar or hydrogenated oils (which clog your arteries). At health food stores you can make your own nut butter… or buy brands like Teddy’s or 365 (the Whole Foods brand). Nut butters are a great source of protein, and will keep you full. Try them on bananas, bagels, or whole grain toast.
3. Collard greens, swiss chard, or kale (dark, leafy green vegetables you’ll find in the produce section): Loaded with calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and potassium, these greens are much more nutritious than lettuce. Remove the stems, then sauté them with olive oil. Add some mango chutney, peanut sauce, garlic and onions, walnuts, sesame seeds, or balsamic vinegar and you’ve got an incredibly healthy snack.
4. Salmon: Contains essential fatty acids (EFAs), which our bodies can’t produce and therefore we must get from the foods we eat. EFAs help prevent heart disease, arthritis, inflammation, eye disease, PMS, and depression. Buy wild salmon as much possible (farm-raised salmon will not contain as many EFAs, and is more likely to be raised with hormones and antibiotics). If you find that fish always goes bad in your fridge, how about stocking up on canned salmon (buy a good quality salmon without salt added)?
5. Protein powders: These will help you obtain your recommended daily protein intake. Try unsweetened powders from Spirutein and Solgar Soy Protein. Mix the powder with some organic cocoa powder, milk (rice or soy works fine, too), banana, and nut butter for a yummy smoothie!
6. Terra Chips or TLCs (Tasty Little Crackers by Kashi): These snacks contain a bit of salt, which you’ll need after hard workouts. They are also free from trans fats and hydrogenated oils, so they’re good for your body. Terra chips are made from vegetables like sweet potatoes and parsnips. TLCs are made from a combination of whole grains, like wheat, rye, and barley.
7. Tea: Green tea is a great way to start out the day. Even the caffeinated brands contain 1/3 less caffeine than a cup of coffee. Green tea, black, and white tea contain cancer-fighting antioxidants. Peppermint tea is soothing to the digestive tract. Chamomile tea and valerian teas are helpful if you’re having trouble sleeping at night.
8. Soups: With the weather turning cold, your body will crave warm foods. Soup is just the thing! Look for brands that contain fiber-filled vegetables, whole grains, and protein. Some good brands to try: Amy’s lentil soups and barley & vegetable. Healthy Valley makes good soups with less sodium than other brands. Stock up on a few cans, and pull them out whenever you don’t have time to cook, but want a healthy meal.
9. Fruit: Any kind of fruit will do. This time of year, your body has been consuming sweets and junk like crazy… so you may find yourself going for sugar much more than normal. Use the sweet taste of fruit to satisfy your sugar cravings, without adding to your waistline.
10. Vegetables: Again, any kind will do! In the fall, root veggies like carrots and parsnips are in season… as well as sweet veggies like yams and sweet potatoes. In the spring, green vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, and spinach are in season.
If you don't have a lot of time, making a stir fry with your favorite veggies is the best way to get in those 5-9 servings each day. My favorite stir fry combo is zucchini, onions, carrots, broccoli, and red peppers. What’s yours?