Tara Gidus

The Best Foods for Runners

Did you know that when you exercise more, you not only need more calories, but you also need more nutrients? The demands that exercise, especially long distance running places on the body raises our nutritional needs. During training you are focusing on improving form and increasing mileage, but a strong body is not achieved without a proper nutrition plan. Power pack your meals with the best fuel for runners to make sure you are not left in the dust.

BananasQuinoa– As a runner, you need carbs. Not junk carbs, but high quality whole grain carbs like quinoa. I love quinoa because it's high in protein too. It's considered a complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids needed to build and repair muscle. It's really easy to cook and tastes delicious!

BananasBeets– Researches have discovered that eating beetroot gives runners more speed. Beets are high in nitrates, which can aid in widening the blood vessels, increasing blood flow and endurance.

BananasSalmon– Salmon is loaded with omega 3s fatty acids which help to fight off inflammation. Just a 3-ounce serving of salmon contains almost 2000mg of these healthy fats. The type of omega 3s that fatty fishes have is DHA and EPA. The other source of omega 3s, ALA is found in plants and isn't absorbed as well.

BananasBananas– Runners should eat a banana every day! Bananas are packed with potassium, an electrolyte lost through sweat, and the natural sugars keep energy from dropping. They are nature's perfect energy bar, convenient, and easy to throw into your purse or gym bag.

BananasGreek Yogurt– Calcium plays a role in maintaining bone density. If the diet is lacking, the body will pull from bone calcium stores and may lead to injury. 1 cup of yogurt contains 1/3 of your recommended daily calcium, plus Greek yogurt has added protein benefits.

BananasLentils– One-half cup of cooked lentils contains 3 mg iron, or the equivalent of 3oz lean beef. Iron deficiency leads to early fatigue and decreased aerobic capacity and performance. The type of iron in vegetables is called non-heme and to get the best absorption, eat them with high vitamin C foods like tomatoes and orange juice.

BananasFresh Salsa– Nothing tastes better after a hot sweaty run than chips and salsa, and it's probably because salsa is high in sodium. Sodium is lost through sweat, and in general, healthy athletes should not be on a low-sodium diet. Salt is essential for preventing cramps and dehydration. Eating foods higher in sodium before long runs, especially in the heat, can help to improve performance.

Train hard, and eat smart! Questions or comments? Tweet me @DietDivaTara.

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.