This is important for a runner not only to help maintain good health but also promote optimal performance. A balanced diet for healthy runners should include carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Balanced meals for runners should comprise roughly 20 percent fats, 60 percent complex carbohydrates and 20 percent proteins. Ensure that you consume plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
This is the major source of fuel for endurance exercises. It is stored in the liver and muscles in the form of glycogen and used up as one runs. Whole grain pasta, steamed or boiled rice, potatoes, fruits, starchy vegetables, sweet potatoes, bagels and whole grain bread are good carb sources. About 55 percent of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates, 25 percent should come from protein, and another 15 to 20 percent should come from unsaturated fats. Running out of glycogen in a run causes a condition that is now known hitting the wall.
As a runner, the body needs proteins to repair muscles, make red blood cells to deliver oxygen to your muscles, to make mitochondria in the muscles to produce energy aerobically, to maintain a strong immune system and make hormones and enzymes that maintain body functions. They should form 15-20% of a runners diet. Eat proteins that are low in fat and cholesterol such as lean meats, fish, low-fat dairy products, poultry, whole grains, and beans.
Fats are an integral part of a diet. Along with carbohydrates and protein, they provide energy for the body. Monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, flax seed oil, canola oil, and avocados are the healthiest fats to consume. They have been linked to a decrease in heart disease. No more than 20 – 25% of your total diet should come from fats to prevent weight gain.