The 7 Best Foods for Runners
The Best Foods for Runners
For runners, food does more than just squelch hunger. From repairing muscle to maintaining energy, runners' bodies have special nutritional needs, and these best foods for runners fuel your muscles and help keep you healthy.
"Runners need quality foods that provide a 'spark plug' for their energy," says Nancy Clark, R.D., M.S., and author of the Food Guide for Marathoners. These seven "elite" foods for runners will help you feel your best—and keep you up and running. (BTW, here’s what to consider when eating after a workout.)
Small Bagel with Peanut Butter
If you're a morning runner, you know it can be tough to hit the road on an empty stomach. It's been several hours since your last meal the night before, and your energy stores are low. (See: Should You Be Doing Fasted Cardio?)
Eating a 100- to 300-calorie snack before your morning run can give you energy and staying power, says Clark. This quick-and-easy food for runners combo has carbs and protein, plus it's easy to digest.
If you need a carb-packed energy-booster before an afternoon training sesh, it’s hard to go wrong with this fruit. Bananas are one of the best foods for runners since they’re low in fiber and easy to digest. Bonus: This portable fruit contains loads of potassium, which regulates blood pressure and reduces the risk of stroke.
Your legs can take a pounding from high-impact activities like running; soreness you feel after a hard run may be caused by micro-tears in the exercised muscles. That's why, in addition to their high fiber content, berries are a good option for runners: the vitamin C and potassium they contain help the body repair itself.
This nutritional powerhouse has vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and phytochemicals, all key for peak performance and health, says Clark. Try this top food for runners in a salad or a broccoli (or broccoli rice!) stir-fry.
Running and other weight-bearing exercises can help you improve your bone density. But calcium is an essential part of the equation, and many runners don't get enough. One cup of this best food for runners contains a third of your recommended daily intake of calcium. Plus, yogurt (especially Icelandic and Greek yogurt) has protein—important for building muscle and recovering from tough workouts.
In addition to being a strong protein source, this nutritious food for runners contains loads of heart-healthy omega-3 fats, which can counteract inflammation and fend off disease. (Up Next: The Best Anti-Inflammatory Meal Plan)