Because it doesn’t require any fancy and expensive machinery and has been a part of normal human function for longer than time can tell, running always has been and will be one of the most popular forms of exercise. Running is a great way to lose weight, as even someone as light as 120 pounds can burn about a dozen calories per minute while running, meaning that you can burn over 100 calories per mile. That adds up really quickly when you start to add distance to your runs.
The calorie total gets even higher if you’re closer to 200 pounds as you burn around 20 calories per minute of running. There are certain foods that you should be eating if you’re running, whether you’re a beginner that’s just trying to lose weight or a distance runner that wants to improve on race times. Let’s take a look at the biggest diet staples that runners should be incorporating regularly.
While vegetarians might not be too keen on the idea of eating salmon, carnivores and omnivores that like to hit the trails should be eating seafood in their running diets, especially salmon. Salmon is the best of the batch that runners can eat because of the insanely high protein content that your body uses to restore muscles, especially in your aching legs. While other seafoods also contain high protein content, the quality of salmon protein is second to none.
Salmon is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which allow your heart and respiratory system to function more properly. A high pulse and inability to breathe are two things you notice right away when running, and can hamper your ability to make it through a long stretch. Plus, if you’re trying to lose weight while running, salmon doesn’t add many calories at all.
If you’ve ever been to a competitive running race before, you might notice that a lot of other runners (especially those at the finish line) are eating bananas. That’s because when you run, your body is using up a lot of potassium, one of the key electrolytes that’s lost in sweat. Bananas have a very high potassium content, and make it so that you don’t cramp up when finishing your run.
Bananas also contain a high content of vitamin B6 and magnesium. Your body uses vitamin B6 to keep up energy levels and make your muscles work more efficiently, and a deficiency can cause pain in the middle of a run and slower times. Magnesium makes sure your muscles and nerves are firing on all cylinders, giving you maximum performance. Not only are bananas good for after the race, but a great thing to have beforehand, as well.
On the morning of your big race (or just a run for exercise), a great way to start your day is a banana with a bowl of oatmeal. You certainly need carbohydrates to provide energy for your run, but you don’t necessarily have to load up on pasta the night before like some athletes do. Oats do just fine as they have complex carbs that digest slowly, giving you a gradual increase in energy throughout the day instead of a quick spike followed by a crash.
Oats also contain a lot of fiber, making it easy to digest and allowing you to avoid some of the stomach problems that can come during the middle of a run. You don’t want to be too far away from home when nature calls, so getting enough fiber to keep you regular is a must. The high amount of protein in oats will also keep your muscles strong during a run.
Did you ever play sports as a child and one of the parents from your team brought everybody orange slices to snack on? For many years, oranges have been one of the go-to options for athletes because of the high concentration of vitamin C. Like protein, vitamin C can repair damage that’s been done to the muscles as a result of exercise and provide a natural energy boost.
That’s because vitamin C helps your body absorb more iron that increases the flow of oxygen in your blood. You might get an intense feeling of thirst while exercising, which makes oranges an ideal food to eat even while you’re running. The juiciness is almost enough to quench your thirst, and low sugar orange juice can even be an option for runners when water isn’t enough.
Running is, by nature, a cardiovascular exercise. The longer you run, the more your heart is working at a peak level to get blood flowing in your body to cool you down. Because of this, you don’t want to be slowed down by excessive cholesterol or high blood pressure. Eating more avocados can help you in both departments, as the healthy fats have been shown to lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
Avocados provide enough calories for your body to use as fuel when you’re trying to improve on your times, and you can even eat a smaller amount to get the heart healthy benefits if trying to lose weight. Avocados also happen to be even higher in potassium than bananas, which makes them a great food option for a post-run snack, too.
There are some runners out there that swear by Greek yogurt as part of their diet, but research has actually said that low-fat yogurt is the better option. Not that Greek yogurt isn’t good or anything, but that low-fat yogurt does the trick. By nature, running is a high-impact exercise, especially if you’re not running on a soft track on a daily basis. This can lead to problems with your knees and feet, causing stress fractures frequently.
To combat this, your body needs to be getting more vitamin D and calcium, both of which are packed into each serving of low-fat yogurt. Studies showed that female runners especially saw a huge reduction in stress fractures when getting more yogurt into their diets. For those of us that are lactose intolerant, certain nuts and beans can fill the void.
Another way to get calcium and vitamin D outside of dairy products is by eating more leafy greens, and it’s suggested that broccoli is the most beneficial for runners. Broccoli also contains a high amount of vitamin K that boost your bone health, preventing arthritis and osteoporosis after years of running. The high vitamin C and potassium concentrations will also help your muscles, and it’s one of the best foods you can eat if you’re trying to lose weight while running.
Broccoli is one of those foods that happens to be high in fiber, as well, and we already told you how handy that is for longer runs. Overall, broccoli boosts your health so that you don’t get sick and miss out on your scheduled runs. Even running itself will boost your immune system and has been shown to both prevent and treat certain forms of cancer!
Remember To Stay Hydrated
You might notice that after a long run (especially on a hot day) that you feel like you could drink water non-stop for hours. But how much do you need exactly? The normal person should be drinking between 60 to 70 ounces of water on a daily basis, but runners will need even more. You should be drinking around 16 ounces of water two hours before you run, and another 16 shortly before you head out.
While you’re exercising, try to drink around 10 ounces for every 15 to 20 minutes to stay hydrated so that your body stays cool. When you’re finished, you don’t want to chug water too fast as you can actually suffer from water poisoning. Drinking some coconut water or a small amount of a sports drink can help you replenish electrolytes lost from running, as well as water that your body needs. When going for a sports drink, 16 ounces for each pound of weight lost during a run is the ideal number.