You can’t go wrong eating lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. But certain foods really give your diet – and your running – a boost. These favourite nutrient-packed picks (some familiar, some unusual) provide vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that will help you run your best.
The perfect on-the-go fuel is already in your cupboard; two tablespoons of raisins pack more than 30g of carbs, making them ideal for snacking during runs an hour or longer. New studies show that when eaten alone, raisins (unlike sweets) decrease mouth acidity, helping to prevent harmful bacteria growth that may lead to tooth decay.
From white button to the more exotic varieties, these fungi supply potassium crucial for body fluid balance. Mushrooms also contain an antioxidant known as L-ergothioneine not found in many foods and known to help fight off free-radical damage. Add to salads, soups, curries or sauté with olive oil as a side dish.
One tablespoon of this nutty oil supplies your daily need for omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids – essential for heart health, as well as controlling inflammation that may lead to diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. Heat and light can damage the fat in hemp oil, so store it in a dark container in the fridge and use for dipping, in dressings, or tossed with pasta or steamed veggies. R76.10 for 250ml. For stockists call 021 854 8862 or see www.credeoils.com
This high-protein meat is lower in saturated fat than beef but packed with many of the same nutrients runners fall short on. Each 100g serving contains more 30 percent of your needs for iron which is necessary for muscle function and recovery. Grill steaks or make ostrich burgers.
Whether you choose strawberries, blueberries or the more exotic acai and goji, all berries contain antioxidants called anthocyanidins. Studies show these compounds halt oxidative damage that occurs with ageing and may stave off muscle soreness.
Cooked and vacuum-sealed grains (such as Tastic Ready-to-Eat Brown Basmati Rice) offer a fast, healthy choice on busy nights. Just heat in the microwave. They provide fibre and B vitamins to energise your runs.
One of the best buys in the grocery store, a one-cup serving of most canned beans supplies over 25 percent of your daily for protein, almost 60 percent for fibre, and 20 percent for iron, along with a good dose of carbs. Eat them four or five times a week in soups, salads and as sides.