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8 foods that are essential for runners

Runners, perhaps more than any other athletes, understand that food isn’t just something that fills the tummy – it’s the fuel needed to get from point A to point B.

A healthy diet is essential to any fitness enthusiast’s performance, but if you are a runner, these are the 10 foods that are indispensable in your diet.

1. Oats

One popular local brand calls it “the breakfast of champions”, and oats really are the perfect way to start your day before heading to the road or trail. Oats are chockfull of carbs and fibre, but have a low glycemic index, which means that this breakfast won’t cause a sharp spike in blood sugar levels, and will provide you with energy over an extended period of time.

2. Bananas

Adding bananas to your oats in the morning will add an extra boost of carbs. The potassium in bananas, together with other minerals like magnesium, chloride and sodium lowers your blood pressure and compensates for mineral loss through sweat.

3. Broccoli

Broccoli contains loads of vitamin C, helping to prevent the risk of sore muscles post-workout. Broccoli also contains vitamin K, folic acid and calcium, which help to build strong, healthy bones.

4. Peanut butter

Peanut butter is the ultimate runner’s snack. It contains protein for building muscle and lots of the antioxidant vitamin E. The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in peanut butter aids post-run recovery and helps to prevent injury, and can also help lower cholesterol levels in the blood.

5. Wholegrain pasta

Did anyone say, “Carbo-load”? Wholegrain pasta adds to your glycogen reserves, while also containing additional B-vitamins to build muscle and improve performance and endurance.

6. Potatoes

The other carbohydrate, potatoes are lower in calories than rice is, and also provides runners with potassium and vitamin A (in the case of sweet potato).

7. Plain yoghurt

After a run, a bowl of plain yoghurt can do wonders. With a biological level of 85% – this means it has a high percentage of the essential amino acids that must be obtained through food, as it isn’t synthesised by the body – plain yoghurt can protect your muscles by speeding up recovery. The calcium in it protects your bones, and the probiotics in yoghurt helps to boost your immune system.

8. Dark chocolate

Sure, chocolate tastes good and makes us feel good, but did you know that chocolate with at least 70% cacao contains flavanols that help to reduce inflammation? As with all things, moderation is key here – combine two or three blocks with some nuts for an indulgence that you don’t have to feel bad about.

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