Best Foods for Runners

Photo Credit: Andy Wright

Running, especially long distance running like marathons, is enjoying increasing popularity. From 2009-2014 alone, worldwide growth was 23.25%, with Asia (92.4%) leading the way. Women have especially shown a renewed interest, with 26.9% growth worldwide, compared to just 7.8% for men.

Running offers an excellent cardio workout and a variety of health benefits, but to get the most out it, you have to add nutrition to the mix. Running requires the body to burn lots of fuel, so it’s important to make sure you give it the right kind. Let’s take a look at some of the best foods for runners of all ages and levels.

Proper Diet

A proper diet for runners includes a balanced amount of protein, carbs and fats. There is no magical supplement that will give you all the nutrients you need, instead do your best to get them naturally from fruits and vegetables. What you eat before and after a run matters too.


Choose a high carb food like bananas, which will also give you a hefty dose of potassium. Potassium is crucial for proper heart function and one of the minerals you lose a lot of when you sweat. Eating a banana before you run helps protect your body from losing too much.

Oats are another excellent choice. They are high in fibre and carbs, ensuring you’ll have plenty of energy for those long runs. Add a few sliced bananas to your bowl of oatmeal for a nearly perfect pre-run meal. Oatmeal also keeps blood sugar levels steady, so you won’t suddenly run out of gas.

If you want something a little more portable, try peanut butter on whole grain bread for quick, easy and long-lasting fuel. Other great pre-run meal choices include yogurt, vegetables with a lean protein source, whole grain pasta and yes, coffee.


After a run, you’ll need to not only replace lost nutrients and electrolytes, but you’ll also need to help your muscles recover and repair. For best results eat within 30 minutes after completing your run. Carbs are most important, but make sure you get some protein too. Pasta, potatoes or rice paired with chicken, fish or eggs make an excellent post-run meal. Stay away from high-fat foods particularly if you’re attempting to lose weight. If you’re on the go, meal or energy bars can be a good alternative, but read labels carefully as some are little more than thinly disguised candy bars. Smoothies are another excellent option, and will also help you rehydrate, which is also extremely important. Drink plenty of water, or if it’s a hot day and you really sweat hard, a drink like Gatorade.

While there is no magic food or meal that will make you a faster runner with better endurance, eating right will help you meet your speed and endurance goals and do so with a lower risk of injury. When you feel good, those long runs will feel good too!


Contribution from: Sally Writes