Whether you are new to running or an avid marathon runner, the foods you eat before, during, and after exercise are crucial to optimizing your performance and recovery. These are some of the top food choices I recommend for runners and endurance athletes.
Almonds – high in antioxidants and healthy fats, these make an excellent filling snack to tide you over in between meals. Sprinkle sliced almonds over salads, oatmeal, or yogurt for additional healthy fats and protein. 1 serving = 23 almonds.
Bananas – loaded with carbohydrates and potassium, these make excellent snacks before, during, or after workouts. If you aren’t typically eating before early morning workouts, or if you skip breakfast altogether, try something as simple as a small banana to jumpstart your metabolism.
Chocolate milk – an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D, this snack is the perfect recovery combination of carbohydrates and protein while also rehydrating you post-workout.
Cottage Cheese/Yogurt – skip the protein powder and choose low-fat cottage cheese or yogurt for protein post-workout. Add fresh berries & granola to yogurt; diced vegetables or peaches to cottage cheese for more flavor. Bonus: calcium & vitamin D-rich foods help strengthen bones & prevent fractures!
Dates – low in fat and high in nutrients and carbohydrates, these are perfect post-run. Check out my recipe for fruit & nut bars for the perfect recovery snack.
Eggs – and no, not just the whites! Egg yolks contain several vital nutrients for brain and bone health. Whether hardboiled or scrambled, add eggs to your diet for a high protein snack or pair with whole wheat toast for a meal. For a simple to-go snack all week long, try my recipe for mini quiches.
Frozen mixed berries – rich in antioxidants, these make great additions to yogurt or smoothies for a sweet treat post-run. Frozen mixed berries are just as nutritious as fresh ones, but they last longer in your freezer and are cheaper to buy. Make sure to buy unsweetened berries to avoid unnecessary added sugar.
Oatmeal – low in fat and high in fiber and carbohydrates, this is the perfect pre-run fuel. It will help keep you full and give you the energy you need to complete your workout. Try my recipes for overnight oats, crockpot steel cut oats, and homemade granola.
Oranges – rich in vitamin C, these fruits have excellent healing powers. Add them to your diet to reduce muscle soreness and boost your immune system.
Peanut/Almond Butters – this snack is an excellent source of protein and heart-healthy fats. Have on whole wheat bread or fruit after workouts or in between meals for a filling snack. Tip: Look for nut butters that list only “peanuts” or “almonds” on the ingredient label! Several brands add sugar and salt. Read my blog on choosing the best nut butters.
Pretzels – this salty snack is a good choice for runners who need to replace sodium lost through sweating during their run. High in carbohydrates and low in fat, it makes for a good alternative to potato chips.
Sweet Potatoes – these antioxidant-rich potatoes are an excellent source of carbohydrates for runners. Eat pre or post-workout for energy. Try my recipes featuring sweet potatoes: Sweet Potato & Crisp Apple Salad, Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers, Veggie Tacos, Sweet Potato Turkey Chili.