I remember when I first started running over a decade ago, I read and fell in love with the book called “Born to Run.” If you are a seasoned runner you may be familiar with it, if you are just starting out I highly recommend it.
Why I bring this up is that one section of the book that really stuck with me is how simple running can be. Without giving the story away, the book is about a group of men in Mexico who are hugely successful ultra runners that use rubber tire pieces strapped to their feet and fuel with beans and tortillas.
Sometimes I think we over research and complicate things with regard to our sport. The human body is designed to move, but there are a few simple things we must remember when it comes to peak performance. What you fuel your body with really does matter. If all you are eating is junk, then you’ll most likely have some pretty junk runs to go along with that. Keeping your body nourished with real, whole foods is what keeps you feeling your best on those difficult training runs and endurance races.
There are specific foods that are particularly good for runners, whether to reduce inflammation or simply to give you the sustained energy to finish a tough workout or endurance race. I try and have a balanced diet with a variety of these foods, but even if you incorporate a few, you can reap some benefits. I’ve put together a list of the top foods for runners.
Top 12 Foods for Runners
Beans – For those of us who don’t eat a tremendous amount of meat, or are vegans, beans are one of the number one sources of protein. What I love is that they are also one of the most affordable foods! Beans are high in antioxidants, fiber, protein, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, and zinc. Beans are a wonderful double whammy of slow burning carbohydrate that allow you to have sustained energy and quality protein to rebuild muscles post-workout.
Whole Grains – I know grains have gotten a bad rap recently with many modern diets and I realize that some people may feel better not eating them, but for runners, high quality whole grain breads, pastas, oatmeal, brown rice and barley are great choices. Both Brown Rice and Oatmeal are gluten free options. Runners require more than the average amount of total carbohydrates in their diets (about 50%), especially in the days leading up to a marathon or other endurance race.
Beets and Beet Greens – Beets are high in Vitamin C, and essential minerals like potassium (essential for healthy nerve and muscle function) and manganese (which is good for your bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas). There is some evidence that beets can increase your blood flow, muscle contraction, neurotransmission, and oxygen flow, which may improve your performance.
Nuts – Nuts are packed with protein, healthy fats (Omega’s) and fiber, especially walnuts and almonds.
Fresh Fruit – Bananas, cherries, berries, apples, oranges, and most fruits are full of water and contain a natural occurring sugar called fructose. Runners need carbs and fluids, so fruit is a natural winner.
Seeds – Pumpkin, Sunflower, Chia, Quinoa, Hemp, there are many seeds to choose from and many contain vital Micro-nutrients and Omegas. Seeds like Chia are high in fiber, protein, and Omega 3’s. Many seeds are high in Selenium and Vitamin E.
Wild Caught Salmon – Full of healthy fats, omegas, and protein.
Turmeric Root – A powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory Turmeric is not a food that you can’t eat outright, but a spice to flavor up your next meal.
Tart Cherry Juice – Also a an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory this juice can be taken post-workout to help aid in recovery.
Garlic – Can reduce inflammation, boost your immune system and add tons of flavor without many calories.
Healthy Fats – Coconut, Avocado, and Olive Oil are just a few of the healthy fats to add into your diet. Loaded with Omegas, unsaturated fats that helps lower cholesterol. Healthy fats also keep you feeling “full” longer.
Sweet Potatoes – Orange is the new white. Sweet potatoes are considered a “Super Food” and contain high levels of beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of vitamin C, potassium, iron, and the two trace minerals manganese and copper. The trace minerals are important to healthy muscle function and often times runners have low levels of these.
Leafy Greens – We all know that eating our greens is good for us, but greens are especially beneficial to runners. That pretty green color is chlorophyll. Chlorophyll has been shown to stimulate the production of hemoglobin, increase your oxygen uptake, and energize your body, something all runners could use more of! Add a handful to your next pre- or post-run smoothie!12 Foods Every Runner Needs to Feel Their Best! #FitFluential #Beanfit #ad Click To Tweet
That is a lot of food! So you may be asking how do incorporate these things into my daily eating habits? I’m going to help you out! Here is ONE example of how you can create smaller meals but still include MANY of these foods. These Honey Chipotle Black Bean Burgers contain FIVE of the above foods, and can be made ahead of time and placed in the freezer for up to three weeks. Pull one or all out to cook for a speedy lunch or weeknight dinner. Can be served on a bed of lettuce or as a burger like I’ve shown you here.
What You’ll Need
2 16 oz. cans of S&W black beans drained and rinsed.
1 small sweet potato about 1/2 cup
1/2 cup of quick barley
1/2 cup of raw cashews
1 T. Cumin
1-2 T. of Jarred Chipotle’s in Adobe sauce.
1 T. of Local Honey or Agave
2 cloves of garlic
1-3 T of Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
How to Make It
Take your washed sweet potato and pierce it with a fork several times on the skin. Place in the microwave for 7-10 minutes or until flesh is soft. Set the Sweet Potato aside and allow to cool.
While the potato is cooking, in a small sauce pan cook your Quick Barley per package instructions. Set aside and cool.
Place raw cashews in a food processor and pulse a few times until they are course chopped (Don’t over process or you will make cashew butter). Add the beans, garlic, honey, Chipotles, Salt, Pepper, and Cumin to the food processor and pulse until your mixture has a thick and chunky consistency.
Take your cooled sweet potato and slice an opening at the top. Scoop the flesh into the food processor along with the cooled Barley.
Continue to pulse until the mixture is well blended. It should be very thick and chunky. If it is too thick for the mixture to blend, add olive oil one tablespoon at a time as needed (don’t add too much oil, you need it to be thick so the patties will stay together).
Once blended, form the mixture into patties. Makes four large burgers, eight smaller, or twelve sliders.
Spray a grill pan with non stick spray and heat to medium high. Place burgers in the hot pan and allow to cook about 5 minutes on each side or until a crisp crust has formed.
Serve immediately with your favorite burger toppings or on it’s own.Looking for a post workout meal idea? check out these- Honey Chipotle Black Bean Burgers #Ad #BeanFit Click To Tweet
This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of S&W Beans.