The right diet on top of a proper training plan is important if you want results in your running performance. You’ll be surprised at some of the performance-enhancing foods you can find easily find on the shelves of your local supermarket.
Peanut butter is great at keeping the hunger pangs away –credit its rich protein and unsaturated fat content. As such, it boasts an extremely low glycemic index. Plus, it’s a very accessible and flexible food – no preparation needed.
Spread it on wholemeal or wholegrain bread for an even more powerful low-glycaemic index boost. What’s more, the stuff is filled with heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat (nearly 70 per cent in fact), which can lower the levels of LDL cholesterol (bad) and raise levels of HDL cholesterol (good) in our bodies.
What peanut butter lacks however, is potassium (only about 90mg per tablespoon) so grab a banana to go along with it. Bananas contain a lot of potassium, about 422mg per serving. Pair them up in your gym bag for a nutritional power combo. Elvis may have had the right idea, except we don’t recommend you consume peanut butter and bananas in a pan-fried sandwich.
They may be a hassle to peel, but oranges are worth it: They’re a great source of vitamin C (one orange supplies nearly100 per cent of your recommended daily intake) that can combat oxidative stress caused by exercise. What’s more, the layer underneath the fruit’s skin contains herperidin, which can help regulate blood pressure, lower cholesterol and have anti-inflammatory effects among many other benefits. The kiwifruit, mango and guava are some other fruits that pack a vitamin C punch.
When it comes to vegetables, experts recommend you eat a wide variety of brightly coloured vegetables to get the best nutritional kick. If you have the stomach for only one – go for brocolli. It’s packed with calcium, vitamins a and C, and high amounts of sulforaphane, which has cancer-fighting and anti-inflammatory properties – great news for runners.
Research says coffee rocks, and so do we. It is credited with improving alertness and increasing your focus. Caffeine pumps up your nervous system, increasing heart rate and breathing, which primes your body for peak performance. Research even suggests it can delay fatigue. Just make sure you down your cuppa about half hour to an hour before a hard workout, as it can possibly upset your stomach.
A study by the International Society of Sport Nutrition found that runners need to eat more protein, not calories. To regenerate and rebuild muscles after a workout, protein is the more important element; the study authors found that eating sufficient protein could help prevent injury and strengthen the immune system.
This is important because after an intense bout of exercise, your immune system is weakened for a few hours. Go for 1g to 1.6g per kg of bodyweight a day (that means 70g to 112g of protein a day). Good sources of protein per 100g: chicken breast (29g), peanut butter (28g) and beef (31g).