Spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, carrots…
Maybe that doesn’t sound like it will satisfy after a long run, but what if instead we talk about bean and rice burritos, sweet potato quesadillas, pad thai, and baked falafel… Now we are talking! All of these meals made by following a whole-food plant-based approach can help you reach peak performance by replenishing glycogen and reducing muscle soreness quickly and more efficiently after your workouts!
Perhaps you are wondering
about getting enough protein as an endurance runner, because let’s face it, a runner’s nutritional needs are very different than the average person's! Or maybe you have been turned off in the past about eating plant-based because you worry about all the extra time it may take in the kitchen, prepping, planning and combining proteins. Worry less, recover quicker and run more with plants!
The big concern
is always around protein, are we getting enough as runners? However to reach our peak performance as endurance athletes, perhaps we are asking the wrong question. What if the limiting factor as runners was not about how much protein we get, but is actually about whether or not we are getting enough nutrients?
A report published in the British Journal of Nutrition says that adults require no more than 0.8 or 0.9 grams of protein per healthy kilogram of body weight per day. Another recent study states, people are more likely to suffer from protein excess than protein deficiency. The adverse effects associated with long-term high protein diets may include disorders of bone and calcium balance, disorders of kidney function, increased cancer risk, and worsening of coronary artery disease.
comes as a packaged deal, and since we need protein, let’s get it from a package that also provides great benefits rather than adverse effects. Water is essential for us, that doesn’t make Coke a good choice because it has water in it!
It’s all about the Nutrients
The research suggests that a more realistic threat to performance in the world of endurance is actually having too few micronutrients resulting from restricting calorie intake while consuming too much protein! Insufficient calorie intake among runners is rampant, and when you do not get enough quality calories, you also do not get enough micronutrients (or protein), so yes, this would limit performance as an athlete. Our easy solution to this: eat more plants!
FOOD should not make you gain weight, Food should make you gain energy! More and more runners are discovering that the key to their potential is better and more simple than they ever could have imagined. By following a whole-foods, plant-based diet, they do not need to restrict calories to keep race weight and also do not need to worry about protein! Eat enough calories from plants, and you will reach your ideal protein needs while maximizing micronutrient intake!
It is important to note that when speaking about eating enough calories from plants, we mean by eating whole-foods and not processed and pre-packaged foods. The key to unlock your peak performance could be obtained by eating foods high in micronutrients, rice, beans, lentils, sweet potatoes, whole-grains and more!
What to expect as a runner when you adopt a whole-foods, plant-based diet?
Recovery: Your recovery rate will improve.
Plants come packed with micronutrients, antioxidant, vitamins, minerals, etc… All you need to keep the machinery running well miles after miles.
Macronutrient wise, the carbohydrates from whole-plant foods will insure that your glycogen storage is replenished more quickly, which is key for a speedy recovery. Glycogen is the gold for athletes, and you cannot afford to fall short, especially as you start a race! Start with a full tank! (Our favorite glycogen replenishing foods are: baked sweet potatoes, fruit smoothies and bean, rice and veggie burritos)
Another huge recovery gain you can expect is reduced inflammation; flavonoids present in plant foods like berries and oranges will help reduce inflammation and accelerate your recovery from a hard training run. (Our favorite anti-inflammatory/ recovery meal is a fruit smoothie with berries, orange, banana, coconut water and fresh ginger and turmeric root.)
Your performance will improve.
With your glycogen storage topped up, you can perform at a higher intensity for a longer period of time. Whether you are running a 5k or a 100 miler, you will need to use glycogen to produce energy efficiently and perform at your peak. You will go through it more quickly in a 5k of course, but even at low intensities like during an ultra, you still need some. Since our glycogen storage is so important to produce energy, we must make sure we replenish it after every run. Plant-foods are an optimal choice to top-up glycogen storage (as glycogen can be replenished more efficiently with carbohydrates rather than fat).
Plant foods also have the amazing ability to improve oxygen transport throughout the body. This is done by consuming nitrate rich foods like beetroots and arugula. The more efficient we get at using oxygen, the better our performance!!
Here are 10 foods you should eat everyday to reach your full potential as a runner:
Eat real foods. If it comes from the earth in its whole form, eat enough of it until you get satiated.
Beans or lentils (burritos, indian dal, chili)
Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams (oil-free fries, mexican baked potatoes)
Fruit, especially berries! (smoothies, fruit salad)
Oats, rice, quinoa (oatmeal, paella)
Greens (salads, smoothies)
Cruciferous veggies (salad, stir fry, mexican bowls)
Nuts like walnuts, almonds (in smoothie or salad)
Seeds like flaxseeds, chia, pumpkin seeds (in a smoothie or chia pudding)
Spices like ginger and turmeric (in smoothie or soup)
- Cold brew Hibiscus tea to stay hydrated (Hibiscus tea is the highest antioxidant content drink!)
Jumpstart your running performance today
by downloading our FREE Runner’s Nutrition E-Book “Peak Performance Nutrition Guide for Endurance Athletes” HERE where you will find running specific recipes and cookbooks, meal ideas and plenty of inspiration to hit the trails!