Real Food for the Real Runner

I think most people would assume that athletes care about their health. If what they do isn’t actually about being healthy, their athletic performance depends on their health. I guess that is why I find it interesting that most athletes use gels, goos, powders and supplements to refuel. This happens primarily, I believe, because it is convenient. However, nothing beats real food. And I have some great alternatives, just read on.

Piggybacking on Rachel’s excellent post on Eating for Athletes, I would like to post this article from Runner’s World. It emphasizes the importance of adequate nutrition for runners, although any endurance athlete could be included. To summarize:
1. Don’t forget the seeds
2. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables
3. Opt for plant foods with the skins on (ie ditch the peeler and the juicer)
4. Get your whey protein from milk rather than a powder
5. Include cold water fish, which are higher in omega-3 fatty acids
6. Choose lean proteins, ideally those that are free range or grass fed
It is important to play around with pre and post event meals during training to ensure you tolerate them well. Taking this list into consideration, a pre-event meal could be:
  • Peanut butter/banana sandwich with a glass of milk.
  • Smoothie using fruit, milk, yogurt or cottage cheese, milled flax seed and maybe even some spinach and oats!
  • Banana muffin (with added walnuts), yogurt and fruit
  • Toast, scrambled eggs and fruit
A post-event meal could be:
  • Poached salmon, sweet potato and roasted veggies
  • Taco Salad with whole grain tortilla, black beans, reduced- fat cheese, and greek yogurt (for sour cream)
  • Loaded sweet potato with salsa, black beans, veggies and guacamole
  • Turkey or tuna sandwich on whole grain bread with lettuce, tomato and avocado and a side salad
  • Grilled cheese and tomato soup
  • Chicken stir fry with sesame seeds, brown rice and lots of veggies
Some of these ideas may take more time than others and some are much more convenient and fast. Either way, the outcome is worth it! You are fueling your body with real food and I know you will notice a difference in energy levels, training, performance and, most importantly, health.
How do you fuel?
Emily Fonnesbeck RD,CD