It goes without saying that to achieve optimal performance and to help prevent illness and injury, your training should be supported by good nutrition. Good food choices can even help to maximise the adaptations that you get from a training stimulus.
Your everyday eating plan needs to provide enough carbohydrate to fuel your training programme and to optimise the recovery of muscle glycogen stores between workouts. Foods rich in protein are important for building and repairing muscles, but a varied diet containing everyday foods will generally supply more than enough protein.
Eating well and eating healthily doesn't have to be boring. There is a common myth that runners only eat pasta, but a varied diet is important and that includes eating a variety of forms of carbohydrate, especially when you need a lot of it! With that in mind I've put together 12 runner-friendly meal ideas.
Moroccan lamb tagine with chickpeas and couscous
Both lamb and chickpeas provide a good source of iron and protein, whilst chickpeas are packed full of the essential nutrients, folate, phosphorous and magnesium.
Salmon & sweet potato wedges
Salmon is an excellent source of Omega 3, needed to help lubricate your joints and maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins A, C and B6, potassium and manganese.
Chilli con carne with brown rice
Beef and kidney beans are good sources of iron, which is essential for oxygen transport and energy production within your body. Brown rice has a lower glycaemic index than white rice, meaning that it provides a more sustained energy release.
Turkey stir fry with mango and chilli & noodles
Turkey is a lean protein packed full of carnosine, a natural substance that can help to counteract muscle fatigue, making it a great choice for athletes.
Vegetable goulash with brown rice and French bread
This is a great dish to use up any vegetables at the end of the week and provides plenty of carbohydrate, whilst brown rice not only provides plenty of carbohydrate but protein and B vitamins too.
Baked quinoa with chicken, apricots and orange
If you fancy a bit of a change then quinoa is a great alternative to other types of grain. It is a great source of protein, fibre and phosphorous and is also high in iron and magnesium. It’s also gluten free and easy to digest.
Homemade pizza with low fat mozzarella
Homemade pizza is actually pretty simple to make and tends to be lower in fat and salt than bought versions. Plus you can select the toppings according to your tastes.
Chilli bean burrito
This dish is great to knock up when you have limited time after training as it is quick and easy to make. Again, you can add whatever vegetables you have in your fridge or cupboard.
Steak, new potatoes & roasted vegetables
Steak is actually a fairly healthy meat for runners so go ahead and treat yourself to a post-race sirloin! Not only is it a great source of muscle repairing protein, it is also high in zinc, which is essential for a healthy immune system. Steak is also packed with iron, an essential component of haemoglobin found in red blood cells and B vitamins, which help convert carbohydrates into fuel.
Butternut squash risotto
Butternut squash is a super healthy food. It provides high levels of potassium, important for bone health and vitamin B6, essential for the proper functioning of both the nervous and immune systems. What’s more with just one average serving of butternut squash you get nearly half the recommended daily dose of anti-oxidant rich vitamin C!
Spaghetti carbonara with crème fraiche
Half fat crème fraiche makes a great low fat alternative to cream, which makes it a healthier option for runners. Go for whole wheat spaghetti which contains unprocessed whole wheat flour, meaning that its natural bran, germ, fibre, vitamins and minerals remain intact.
Chicken fajitas with mixed vegetables
Fajitas don’t have to be unhealthy. If you opt for lean, muscle re-building chicken and plenty of vegetables that are packed with vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants, you can make a meal that is both tasty and nutritious. Just go easy on the cheese and sour cream!
I hope these meal ideas give you some inspiration to try something new. Happy training and happy eating!