Are you ready for the most obvious nutritionist advice ever? Runners need to eat a lot of food. I know, shocking. We blow through hundreds of calories while running, and need to nourish with adequate calories and nutrients for optimal performance.
Variety is key to achieve a well-rounded diet with plenty of nutrients, but there are a few foods I always have on hand to enhance my diet. As a nutritionist and runner, here are the foods I always have in my kitchen.
Frozen Fruits and Veggies
My freezer is forever stocked with a mixed berry blend and any variety of frozen vegetables. Frozen produce can actually have more vitamins than fresh, because they are flash frozen as soon as they are picked. This allows the produce to retain more vitamins and minerals. Throw the berries in yogurt, cereal or smoothies, and cook up the veggies as side dishes or over rice.
I like to brew up a large jug of green tea and keep it in my refrigerator. Green tea has endless health benefits, from cancer-fighting antioxidants to energy-boosting caffeine. I sip it before a run for the caffeine boost, throughout the day as a health drink, and even include it in smoothies.
Omega-3 fatty acids are important for heart health. However it can be difficult to get enough in a diet if you don’t regularly consume fish, walnuts and certain obscure meats and beans that contain it. Just three tablespoons of chia seeds have more than twice the amount of omega-3s as a serving of wild salmon, with plenty of protein and fiber as well.
Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars
It’s always important to eat ASAP after a run, even before taking your nasty socks off. I love granola bars because I can grab them and stuff them down my throat while stretching or showering. (Yes, I eat granola bars in the shower.)
Plain Nonfat Greek Yogurt
The probiotics in yogurts promote digestive health, prevent and treat yeast infections, and are a delicious source of protein. It can be eaten plain (with some frozen berries of course). Or try using it in cooking in place of cream cheese, sour cream or heavy cream.
Runners need to eat a lot of carbohydrates for quick and abundant energy while running. Many choose pasta or rice, but I like oats because the whole grain provides fiber and protein to keep me full while carb-loading.
Beans can be tossed into many recipes, including tacos, soups, nachos, salads and various rice dishes. Black beans are a nutrient smorgasbord. One cup provides 15 grams each of dietary fiber and protein. It is also a great source of many difficult-to-get minerals.
Chicken, like all meat, is a great source of protein, B vitamins, and various other minerals. I always have a package of boneless skinless breasts in my freezer that I can pop in the crock pot with some buffalo sauce, salsa, or Italian seasoning for an easy dinner later that night.
Try as I might to quit my snacking habit, I’m a boredom eater. I constantly want to munch on something, so I always have baby carrots on hand for a satisfying crunch. As a result, it keeps me away from chips.
Ben and Jerry’s
Unexpected, right? A healthy diet is important, but it’s equally important not to extremely deprive yourself. Don’t cut out all the indulgent foods you love, because it feels like you’re punishing yourself—that isn’t healthy. If you really want something, indulge because you’ve earned it.