Best Foods to Eat for Runners – Nutrition for Runners
Written By: Lucy McCrickard
Everything we eat and drink has an impact on performance. However, despite our best intentions, busy lifestyles can mean that healthy eating slips by the wayside. Our in-house nutritionist, Lucy McCrickard, gives us her practical tips on how to manage your nutrition and optimise your diet for maximum performance
KITCHEN CUPBOARD BASICS
Stock up your kitchen cupboard with a selection of non-perishable basics to ensure you always have something to hand to create an affordable and simple meal.
- Tinned foods
Sweet corn, tomatoes and pulses (chickpeas, kidney, berlotti, broad, butter and haricot beans) can provide the basis to many quick and nutritious meals; particularly for vegetarians. Pulses can be pureed and used as dips or to eat with pitta bread. Tinned tuna, salmon or pilchards can quickly be converted into a sandwich or added to salads, as can old-fashioned corned beef.
- Jars and bottles
Curry paste, herbs and spices will add flavour to most meals. Capers, peppers and artichoke hearts are also good sandwich and salad fillers; oriental sauces and sun-dried tomatoes can be included in stir-fries and pesto added to pasta. Keep a supply of good quality Virgin Olive Oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, tabasco and Worcester Sauce. Grow your own herbs to add flavour and nutrients.
Stock up on carbohydrates by buying pasta, noodles, couscous and rice. Lentils and split peas will provide instant protein, and nuts, seeds and dried fruits are great for instant healthy snacks. Include stock cubes to add to one-pot meals.
- Frozen foods
Frozen prawns and vegetables can be quickly thawed in a colander under running water to knock up an instant meal. Frozen berries are a cheap way to add your vitamins and antioxidants - defrost a handful overnight and add to your morning porridge or pudding. Don't throw out leftover vegetables; freeze these to use later with meals or in homemade soups and stocks. Finally, don't forget to keep a supply of eggs handy; nutritious, inexpensive, versatile, and one of the best 'fast foods' you can have!
Keeping control of our food choices when we are at home is one thing, but managing to eat well and healthily on the move, or when staying away from home is a whole separate challenge. Our preferred choices may not always be available and eating schedules can be disrupted, resulting in gaps between normal meal times, tempting the cravings and snacking to kick in.
Some tips to managing on the move:
- Plan ahead: make your own snacks and take them with you to avoid the petrol station temptations.
- Take your own breakfast with you, such as microwave packets of porridge or your preferred muesli or cereal.
- Check ahead as to what will be available where you are staying. Call and tell them if you have any special dietary requirements and find out if you have a fridge, kettle and any cutlery or crockery in your run. If not, pack your own.
- Find the nearest local supermarket so you can stock up on favourite foods.
- Try and stick to a familiar eating regime - particularly if you are travelling for an event which requires particular foods at special times.
HEALTHY CHOICES IN CAFES AND RESTAURANTS
It's all too easy to eat too much salt, sugar and saturated fat when you aren't cooking your own meals; and portion sizes can also go awry. The odd treat on a special occasion won't do any harm, but there are some easy ways to opt for healthier choices when eating out regularly.
- Choose bagels, scones and currant buns over pastries and croissants.
- Brown and wholemeal breads in sandwiches are better choices than white.
- Opt for tomato or vegetable sauces, instead of those made from cream or cheese.
- Order Meg-style with extra salad and vegetables on the side (served with separate dressing)
- Steamed and boiled rice are better for you than pilau and egg fried varieties.
- Choose two starters instead of one with a main course; or share a main with a fellow diner.
- When eating from a buffet, use a side plate to avoid piling up the portions.
- Chips are tempting, but resist and choose mash or baked potatoes instead. Look for dishes which are grilled, steamed, baked or poached, and beware anything deep fried.
- Puddings can be the trap so resist from ordering until after your main course. You may decide you don't actually need it! If you still do, go for sorbet, fruit salad or low-fat yoghurt.
Other good tricks are to check the menu online before arriving at a restaurant. Choose what you want ahead and don't be swayed by others when ordering. Also, have a healthy snack before you leave since this can take the edge off your hunger and help you make better decisions at the table.
Photo credit: Unsplash.com
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