Nutrition is a vital part of runner’s training process. This topic includes a lot of information, but we decided to write an article only about foods that give runner super-power, known as superfoods.
Superfoods are products that people eat for a specific purpose. Usually to replenish body resources. For example, if an athlete wants to build stamina or recover faster after an injury.
A few years ago, athletes preferred newly discovered exotic foods, such as goji berries, acai or guarana. Later most of them understood that basic oats or eggs are just as beneficial. In today’s compilation you will find a compromise.
You don’t have to include those you don’t like in your daily nutrition plan. However, if you pay attention to most of them, you can build body resources for better training.
Top 15 Superfoods for Runners
Some healthy lifestyle followers believe eggs increase bad cholesterol levels in the blood. However, recent scientific studies have shown it’s false. Eggs in moderate amount (1-2 per day) has no negative impact on human health. Eggs contain phosphorus, choline (that decreases inflammation), vitamin B12 and a lot of other beneficial substances. Just imaging, just one egg provides about 10% of recommended daily protein intake for an average person. This is not a joke.
This product is truly international. He is loved by everyone, especially athletes, because bananas are rich in carbs that can quickly turn into energy. A large banana contains more than 30 grams of carbs, only 1 g of protein, zero fat, and can boast a high potassium content (385 mg) to prevent dehydration. Remember, we actively lose potassium with sweat.
This product and its characteristics require an exclamation point! Tomatoes are great because they taste so good and contain few calories (only 27 calories in a cup of cherry tomatoes). They are rich in vitamins A and C, antioxidants, beta-carotene and lycopene. Also they contain vitamin B6.
4. Chia seeds
Those who read the book "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall know that chia seeds were the favorite product of the Mexican tribe of Tarahumara - best long-distance runners. Chia was dissolved in water, mixed with sugar and stirred with a pop of lime to receive a natural energy booster called “iskiate”. It is one of the secret products created by Indians to build up strength and endurance. Chia seeds are literally stuffed with Omega-3, Omega-6, protein, calcium, iron, zinc, fiber and antioxidants.
Spirulina is a blue-green alga in the form of a spiral, rich in protein, group B vitamins, beta-carotene and zinc. It is neither slimy, nor disgusting. Spirulina is available in stores and pharmacies in the form of tablets or green powder. Therefore, spirulina can be easily added to soups, smoothies or salads. However, there is one disadvantage. Algae absorb toxins and heavy metals from sea water. Therefore, they should be consumed moderately or in the form of dietary supplements from proven manufacturers.
Cherries are world leaders in antioxidant content. Nevertheless, in most experiments proving their positive effect on athletes, scientists used cherry juice instead of berries. The thing is that this is juice that contains a large concentration of anti-inflammatory substances, for example, anthocyanins.
7. High-quality nut butter
Choose a nut butter that contains only nuts or seeds, free of salt, sugar and other oils. Nut butter is rich in amino acids, iodine, manganese, iron, calcium and other microelements. Many athletes can rely on nut butter as an excellent source of healthy and beneficial calories. This especially applies to the period of intense training.
Yes, it contains sugar, but it also contains iron, phosphorus and other trace elements necessary for blood formation. Eating 12 to 16 tsp. on honey daily helps control weight. It can also be used by athletes who adhere to low-calorie diet: one teaspoon of honey after a meal provides a better feeling of fullness.
The benefits of honey were highly appreciated by Arthur Lydiard after his visit to the Soviet Union. In his opinion, 200 g (7 oz.) of honey is a perfect meal to eat 36 hours before the start. “My athletes used to stick to barley sugar, but now I prefer honey that mostly contains fructose and is better absorbed,” – he said in his book “Running with Lydiard.”
The Incas called quinoa “golden grain.” It is an excellent side dish and a great alternative to rice due to its complete absorption by the body. Quinoa is rich of complex carbs and vegetable protein. The protein profile of quinoa is close to cow's milk, and the content of phosphorus is not worse than in o fish.
10. Black currant
Black currant berries, just like cherries, are rich in anthocyanins. Along with vitamins C, B, D, P, A, E, this superfood contains pectins, phytoncides, essential oils, tannins, potassium, iron, phosphorus and more
Milk is rich in protein and carbohydrates. Whole milk and dairy products help maintain healthy cholesterol level and improve blood vessels condition.
What science says: regular intake of milk after training has a positive effect on replenishing glycogen stores in muscles.
12. Raw cocoa beans or cocoa powder
Cocoa beans contain a lot of iron and zinc, magnesium, potassium, antioxidants and useful amino acids. Cocoa powder increases blood flow in the arteries and lowers bad cholesterol. But be careful: 100 grams contain 565 calories!
Beetroot is an excellent product that helps to restore the body after heavy loads. It is rich in various antioxidants known for their powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Beet juice is incredibly good for athletes. On the one hand, it contains a lot of nitrates, which have become notorious for being used as preservatives. But, in fact, nitrates are necessary for nitric oxide synthesis, which, in turn, helps to expand blood vessels during exercise and increase muscle saturation with oxygen and blood. In addition, nitrates cause mitochondria to more efficiently generate energy in muscle cells.
Leave your comfort zone and start using garlic as often as possible! It strengthens the immune system and prevents colds. It also prevents blood clots and improves blood circulation. Play ahead.
What science says: in 2015, US researchers recruited a group of 18 young men who participated in the exercise test. Before its beginning, one half of participants was given garlic extract, and the other part received a placebo. As a result, the maximum level of oxygen consumption (VO2 max) was 2.7% higher in athletes, who consumed garlic extract.
Ginger root can excellently excrete toxins, improve blood circulation and stimulate appetite. It also works well for nausea and dizziness. The product can bring undeniable benefits to triathletes, who sometimes experience these symptoms after swimming. Nutritionists recommend eating 1-2 grams of crystallized ginger (boiled in water with sugar) during the workout, before entering water or after it.
What science says: A 2010 study, published in PAIN magazine, described the influence of ginger on muscle pain. Some experiment participants took 2 grams of fresh ginger daily for 11 days, others took a placebo. To justify the name of the magazine, all participants did a set of exercises that caused discomfort and muscle inflammation. As a result, in the first group, pain reduction occurred 24 hours after the load, in contrast to those who took placebo.
The list of superfoods can be endless: dried fruits, salmon / tuna, goji berries, chlorella, guarana, olive oil, corn, etc. Make sure you test how your body tolerates these foods before you fall on them.