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Superfoods for runners: What to eat for endurance, stamina and energy

Whether your goal is to increase your daily running mileage or total weekly miles, you can improve your running stamina by following an effective training program. The best program combines weekly training runs and regular resistance training. Neither of these are going to be beneficial without proper nutrition. Each piece of the program provides an essential function in building stamina and strength.

Eat to boost endurance

Endurance athletes are no strangers to long, grueling workouts that take a toll on their body and mind. Performance starts with your fuel. To fuel for these workouts and recover afterwards it’s important for athletes to know which foods to consume.

The following are some of the super-foods which will make a great addition to any endurance athlete’s diet and allow you to stay strong until the finish.

images-1 Superfoods for runners: What to eat for endurance, stamina and energy

Oatmeal: Sports nutritionists recommend that runners get approximately 60 percent of their daily calories from carbohydrate to maximize workout performance. Starting your day with a high-carbohydrate breakfast is a great way to boost your overall carbohydrate intake. Old-fashioned oatmeal provides 27 grams of carbohydrate per 1/2-cup serving. It is a high-fiber, low-glycemic index food, so the energy it provides is long-lasting. A Penn State study found that men were able to exercise significantly longer after a breakfast of old-fashioned oatmeal than after a high glycemic index breakfast of puffed rice.

images-1 Superfoods for runners: What to eat for endurance, stamina and energy

Cherries a tremendous antioxidant-rich fruit. They contain particularly large concentrations of a type of antioxidants called anthocyanins. Antioxidants provide a host of health benefits ranging from maintaining healthy blood vessels to prevention of cancerous tumor growth. They’re also good for athletic performance. In one study, the addition of cherry juice to the diet of competitive rowers significantly reduced the amount of strength loss and muscle soreness they experienced after a strength test designed to cause muscle damage compared to a group of fellow rowers who received a placebo instead.

Kale: Kale is a member of the cabbage family. This popular leafy green is loaded with fiber and nutrients to lower blood cholesterol levels. It contains high levels of vitamins A, B6, C and vitamin K which helps with bone strength, as well as iron and calcium, and is one of the most antioxidant-rich vegetables. Kale also has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Low-grade inflammation resulting from exercise-induced muscle damage is a daily nuisance for many runners and can become a chronic issue in some cases. Maintaining a diet that’s high in anti-inflammatory foods reduces the risk of this problem.

images-1 Superfoods for runners: What to eat for endurance, stamina and energy

Bananas: Bananas are among the best pre-workout and pre-race foods for runners. Bananas are almost all carbohydrate. A large banana contains more than 30 grams of carbohydrate, just 1 gram of protein, and no fat whatsoever. Bananas are also extremely high in potassium (400 mg), which is lost in sweat during exercise. Their softness and light taste make them easy to consume even with pre-race nerves, and their natural “wrapper” makes them handy for eating on the road. Known as nature’s candy, the sweetness of bananas only adds to their glowing potassium credentials. They provide the perfect portion of smart carbs before a run to boost energy levels.

Chia Seeds: are incredibly versatile. One tablespoon of Chia seeds, or about 12 grams, contains 2.1 grams of ALA, 4 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein and 58 calories. ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) is a plant base for of omega-3 fatty acids. The daily recommendation of ALA is 1.6 grams for men and 1.1 grams for women. ALA is an antioxidant that is essential to energy production in the body. As a runner, keeping your energy levels high is absolutely necessary, and getting your nutrition from a food source that your body knows how to break down naturally is preferable. Consuming a single tablespoon of chia seeds a day will help your body utilize the food you consume more efficiently.

Whether mixed into oatmeal, drizzled on a salad or thrown into baked goods, these seeds contain enough omega-3 fatty acids and all 20 amino acids to keep you right on track running.

images-1 Superfoods for runners: What to eat for endurance, stamina and energy

I like to use Huma gel packs as they are specifically designed to help you get through tough exercise. Why they are so good.

*Glucose drives your muscles. Glucose comes from digesting food or from your body’s glycogen stores (glycogen=stored glucose).

*Glycogen stores last 60-90 minutes. Once they are gone your body can’t sustain effort above 60% max.

*Digesting carbs during exercise allows your glycogen stores to last longer.

*Choosing your carbs is key. Liquid carbs slosh around in your stomach, solid carbs require chewing and are slow to digest. People can digest 100-150 calories per 1/2 hour. Huma gels provide 100 calories of carbs which efficiently convert into glucose. It is great tasting and an all natural way to get the energy you need.

images-1 Superfoods for runners: What to eat for endurance, stamina and energy

Wild Salmon: is an excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, which help the body’s metabolic processes. Unfortunately we are sorely deficient in the average American’s diet. Omega-3 fats boost heart health by creating more elastic blood vessels and improve nervous system functioning. These benefits go beyond general health to affect exercise performance. A study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology showed that fish oil supplementation increased heart stroke volume (or the amount of blood the heart pumps with each contraction) and cardiac output (or the total amount of blood pumped by the heart) during low- to moderate-intensity exercise.

Sweet Potato: They are a vegetable rich in vitamin A and C, which are both powerful antioxidants that work in removing free radicals from our body. They help lower blood pressure and are a super-food for athletes because of its high vitamin and mineral content. The potassium, iron, manganese and cooper are minerals that many athletes lack. Manganese and copper being crucial in healthy muscle function.

images-1 Superfoods for runners: What to eat for endurance, stamina and energy

Walnuts are plant based protein rich in fiber, B-vitamins and antioxidants, such as vitamin E. They contain the most omega-fatty acids than any other nut and the anti-inflammatory nutrients are great for bone health. Walnuts have also been shown to lower LDL cholesterol, are beneficial for a healthy heart and make a great health, energizing snack on-the-go.

images-1 Superfoods for runners: What to eat for endurance, stamina and energy

Squash: Underneath their tough exterior, squashes are loaded with key nutrients every runner needs. Butternut, acorn, spaghetti, Hubbard, banana, turban, and pumpkin are just some of the many types of squash available in your produce section at any time of the year. While the exact nutritional stats vary from squash to squash, they’re all nutrient-packed. Cancer-fighting carotenoids: One cup of cooked squash contains about 100 calories with more than 100 percent of your daily value for vitamin A in the form of carotene, as well as other cancer-fighting carotenoids. Runner-friendly electrolytes: Squash contains more potassium per serving than one banana. This mineral helps maintain healthy blood pressure and fluid balance. Filling fiber: You’ll also get 6 grams of fiber in a single cup of cooked squash. All that fiber helps keep you feeling fuller longer. They also have a good dose of vitamin C and a range of energizing B vitamins. Runner-friendly electrolytes: Squash contains more potassium per serving than one banana. This mineral helps maintain healthy blood pressure and fluid balance.

Whey Protein: Whey protein isolate is the purest form of whey protein ans is a complete protein that contains all of the essential amino acids. It’s absorbed quickly and efficiently into the body, making it ideal for athletes. It doesn’t contain any fat or schoolmaster. The protein and array of amino acids are essential in muscle re-building, especially after strenuous workout or race for athletes. It’s a great fat recovery method because it helps prevent muscle break down  and is the fastest digesting protein.

Green tea is on its way toward becoming the beverage of choice among runners, and with good reason. Green tea contains a high concentration of a class of antioxidants called catechins. A couple of Japanese studies showed that green tea extract supplementation increased endurance in mice. It appears that it worked by increasing the muscles’ capacity for fat burning during exercise by reducing the activity of free radicals that inhibit fat metabolism.

images-1 Superfoods for runners: What to eat for endurance, stamina and energy

Beet juice: Studies have shown it can help you exercise 14% longer. Why? They are high in nitrates which quickly deliver oxygen to your muscles, so they can push you through that tough final stretch. Beets also aid in cardiovascular health because of their heart-healthy vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

images-1 Superfoods for runners: What to eat for endurance, stamina and energy


Honey: is a high-carbohydrate food. One tablespoon contains 60 calories and 17 g of carbohydrates, of which 16 g come from sugars.

It contains the purest form of glucose and fructose to keep your body running at its peak. Honey is actually feeding your brain with enough sugar to keep it happy, which in turn prevents your central nervous system from warning your body that it should slow down. Keep the brain happy, and the body will follow. Combine honey with water, which is easiest on your stomach’s gastric intake process, you have all the nutrition you need to succeed on race day.

Drizzle a teaspoon on a banana to benefit from the slow release of natural sugars, which your body converts to energy.

Bell Pepper: During distance exercise, your body taps into stored fat and carbs for fuel. To access fat and ward off fatigue you need a good supply of vitamin C in your blood. Bell peppers have more than twice the amount of an orange.

Lentils: They are loaded with iron which helps you produce hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in your blood. A lentil salad 30-40 minutes before a work out can provide you with endurance to go that extra mile.

When you are exercising it is essential that you nourish your body, so it can perform safely and at its maximum capability. Eating well is so important, you won’t get the long term results you want if you don’t. It is so much harder to exercise off excessive calories from a bad diet.

Consuming carbohydrates before and during exercise can help improve your performance. Before exercising, these carbohydrates should be in the form of a snack, while during exercise it should be a sports drink. Following exercise, protein and carbohydrates should be consumed within two hours. Not all carbohydrates successfully serve this purpose. This is because different types have varying affects on the delivery of carbohydrates to your muscles and elicit different hormonal responses, according to the February 2002 issue of “Strength and Conditioning Journal.”

It is important to consume a nutritious diet firstly, which is high in carbohydrates, moderate in protein and low in fat to ensure you have enough energy to complete your run. The diet of a runner should be made up of 60 to 70 percent carbohydrates, 12 to 15 percent from protein and no more than 30 percent from fat sources, according to MarathonGuide.com. Runners must also focus on staying well hydrated, drinking water regularly throughout the day and before, during and after workouts.










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