|Three hungry birds in our back yard two summers ago ...they prefer worms|
and none of this stuff, but I think the neighbor's cat got 'em a few days later.
I'm a firm believer that what I consistently put into my body is a huge factor with any running success I might have. But unfortunately it's the single biggest thing I struggle with in training. All of the "runner foods" I eat are those that help reduce inflammation and promote quick healing to my legs that take a daily pounding. Inflammation is the enemy of healing to the body, so the more we can reduce it, the quicker we heal.
Here are the top 10 foods I try to eat regularly when I'm managing my diet the way I should. They're listed in no particular order ...
1. Blueberries This is probably the food I eat most often on a regular basis. I usually have 1-2 cups per day, and usually immediately after workouts. Blueberries are very rich in something called pro-anthocyanin natural pigment anti-oxidants which greatly help reduce inflammation. The only down-side is blueberries can be fairly expensive. One option I use when they get really over-priced at the store is buy them frozen. Blueberries are always great raw, or added to a smoothie. HERE is a link from Runner's World about a study performed on runners who ate blueberries vs. those that didn't. I don't think they used a large sample size, but their limited results show that runners who ate blueberries during this time period performed better and had drastically less inflammation.
2. Quinoa (w/Honey, Cinnamon, & Ginger) Jason from Cook Train Eat Race actually turned me onto quinoa (pronounced "Keen-wah") a while back. It is considered a "superfood" meaning that it has a high level of many different nutrients such as calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, and is also a good carbohydrate source for runners. Quinoa can be prepared similarly to rice and actually take it's place in many meals. And quinoa has basically replaced oatmeal as my post-run recovery meal. I mix 1/2 cup quinoa with some honey, a few sprinkles of cinnamon & ginger (which both also help reduce inflammation), a few shots of extra virgin olive oil, and two cups of water - then cook in the microwave for 17 minutes. I usually start it, shower, and then enjoy on the way out the door. It really helps add back in some of the carbs I need for my next workout, without having to eat a wheat-based product which contribute to inflammation.
|These are the blueberries I had this morning!|
4. Bananas I start every morning with a banana, and usually have another one at some point during the day. They are another food considered a "superfood" because of all the nutrients they contain. They are a great carbohydrate source and contain very high levels of potassium, which help lower blood pressure, and aid in recovery from long workouts.
5. Spinach I have spinach on a sandwich or salad almost everyday of my life. It's not really one of my favorite tasting foods, but it's packed with a lot of great nutrients. Spinach has a very high amount of iron, which many runners are low in. In fact many female runners become anemic from an iron deficiency. Also, it contains a high amount of Vitamin A & C. I try to eat raw spinach as much as possible since cooking it reduces the nutritional value.
6. Salmon I go through spells where I eat a lot of salmon - right now is not one of them. But there are few, if any, meats that are recommended more for runners. While obviously high in protein, salmon is one of the best sources of Omega 3 fats that reduce blood clotting, and yes ... inflammation. It's also linked to preventing depression and protecting against the onset symptoms of dementia. I need to eat more salmon, but it's kind of an acquired taste, and I really don't enjoy it as much as other meats. But pound for pound, there's just no better meat for runners.
7. Black Beans One meal I love is Beans & Rice, as long as it's not too spicy. I'll mix a can of low sodium black beans with brown rice & chicken, and then add a little Cholula Hot Sauce ... Awesome! As part of the nutrient rich legume family, black beans are high in Omega 3 fatty acids, and a great source of heart-healthy fiber and folate. They are also a great source of molybdenum which helps with the body's energy production. I obviously don't eat them everyday because I don't want to over do it with fiber, but they are a big part of my diet.
|Naked Coconut Water in our fridge, mango peach flavor|
9. Coconut Water This is one of the latest things I've been consuming after a workout, but honestly, the jury is still out a little for me. Here is an excerpt from Active.com about coconut water ...
"Coconut water, the clear liquid found inside the fruit, contains none of the fat found in coconut milk and has a tangy, light almond flavor. Eleven ounces contain 14 grams of sugar and 670 milligrams of potassium-way more than sports drinks. 'Potassium works closely with sodium to maintain water balance and helps trigger muscles to contract and relax optimally,' says Suzanne Girard Eberle, R.D., author of Endurance Sports Nutrition. Coconut water has enough carbohydrates for an hour-long run but not enough sodium for longer efforts."
Coconut water is one of those trendy things right now that a lot of pro athletes are using for recovery. Bases on the nutritional label, it should be the ideal thing - but in my opinion it doesn't taste great, and I haven't really seen any real tangible benefits. But I'm gonna stick with it for a while.
10. Eggs There is no better complete food source of protein than eggs (apparently with the exception of breast milk). Body builders have known this for years, and while my aging, thin body will never be mistaken for a juiced up muscle-head, I eat plenty of eggs to help give my body as much protein as possible. While being high in protein, eggs are also packed with amino acids, Omega-3, and Vitamin K, which all promote healing to muscle fibers broken down after a workout. Carb replenishment is very important to runners, but something a lot of runners neglect is protein for recovery, and eggs are a great source.
Some of the other things I try to mix into my diet on a regular basis are broccoli, steak about twice a month, low sugar and as natural as possible protein bars, brown rice, quite a bit of extra virgin olive oil, avocados here and there, all natural peanut butter, and reluctantly ... salads. The tough part, of course, is not adding all of the other stuff that destroys my diet plan. It's on going battle. But these food definitely help provide energy and aid in recovery, and help make me a better runner.
... be great today!