A woman drinking water before a run.
Sports / Orthopedic

A Runner’s Nutrition Guide: Increase Your Energy & Performance

Apr 30 2021
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Runners often wonder how diet impacts their performance, endurance and recovery. While there are thousands of options in the grocery store, many of us tend to stick to familiar foods and brands.

However, if you’re looking to fuel up for your next run, here are a few more healthy food options to add to your shopping cart.

Power foods for runners

  • Almonds are rich in protein and vitamin E, an antioxidant that is rare in food sources. These nutrients help runners recover, lower their cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Runners are recommended to eat three-to-five handfuls of almonds each week.
  • Eggs contain approximately 10 percent of the daily recommended value (DV) for protein and 30 percent of the DV for vitamin K, two important nutrient sources for healthy muscles and bones.
  • Sweet potatoes add healthy carbs and various wholesome nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, copper, iron and potassium. They promote powerful muscle movement.
  • Oranges contain high levels of antioxidant vitamin C, which reduces muscle soreness and fatigue.
  • Whole grain bread, pasta and cereal are good sources for carbohydrates and fiber. Runners who eat these carbs feel full for a longer amount of time and they release higher amounts of energy during workouts.
  • Canned black beans provide 30 percent of the DV for protein, 60 percent of the DV for fiber and 60 percent of the DV for folate in a single cup. Black beans also have naturally timed releases of carbohydrates that control blood sugar levels and preserve energy.
  • Chicken is a powerful source for protein, selenium, niacin. Working in synchrony, these three nutrients regulate fat burning and protect muscles throughout intense workouts.
  • Dark chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants that reduce inflammation and lower runners’ risks for blood clots.

5 nutrition tips for runners

  1. Practice fueling your body. When training for a race, you practice your running form. Be sure to also practice fueling your body with whole foods and proper hydration throughout your training process.
  2. Don’t try anything new on race day. Stick with the food choices and eating times you’ve been practicing during your training.
  3. Make hydration a part of your normal routine. Once you’re dehydrated, it’s hard to play catch-up. Focus daily on hydrating – consuming water, milk as well as certain fruits and vegetables can help.
  4. Do a hydration check. If your urine is darker than a half lemonade, half water drink then you need to increase your daily water intake.
  5. Sip slowly. Sipping your water slowly throughout the day will help your body absorb the water better than chugging down a large bottle in one gulp.

We hope you keep these healthy tips in mind – especially those currently preparing for the Mercy Health Iron Mom Half-Marathon on Saturday, May 8 in Paducah, KY. If you’ve been training but have yet to sign up, there is still time to register.

You can also volunteer or form a spectator group to cheer on the runners. Sign up and check out the race route ahead of time. 

And if you are experiencing any issues during your training, our Mercy Health — Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Team is here to help.


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2 Comments

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Suzanne Wambold

I have been following the research at www.healthylivingrevolution.com/live and consuming Juice Plus to bridge the gap in the my plate.gov recommendations of 7-13 servings of dense fruits and vegetables. I am also following Dr. Kristi Funk and her recommendations. Thus I would like to see you share info on the benefits of soy and and soy vs. whey. the marathon event at UT was very nice. Loved seeing the amount of kids that came out for the event.
May 01st, 2018 | 5:53am

Mercy Health

Happy to hear you're prioritizing healthy living, Suzanne! That's a great idea for a blog post. Let us know if you have any additional questions or are interested in seeing a doctor closer to home!
May 01st, 2018 | 8:26am

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