Cheap nutrition ideas for runners
Financially friendly runner snacks
With such a vast array of products on the market, sports nutrition can often seem like a minefield. Whilst hydration, energy and recovery products can be beneficial to performance in training and racing, they can certainly burn a hole in your pocket. However, the good news is that if you're on a budget you don't have to spent the earth to meet your nutritional needs. Check out these alternative smart snacks that are financially friendly.
Sports drinks are an effective way to stay both hydrated and fuelled, however that ready made convenience will cost you money. Essentially sports drinks simply contain sugar, salt and water. The sugar helps to prevent a drop in blood glucose levels, the water minimises the effects of dehydration and the salt helps to absorb and retain the fluid.
There are two main ways to make your own sports drink. The first is to simply use table sugar. Add 60-80g of table sugar to a one litre bottle, half a teaspoon of salt, some no added sugar squash and then top up with water to make 1 litre. Alternatively you can use fruit sugar found in fruit juice. Add 400-600ml of fruit juice to a one litre bottle, half a teaspoon of salt and solute with water to make 1 litre.
Refuelling post-run is essential if you want to optimise your recovery and get the most from your training. Ready made recovery drinks and powders are convenient, however one of the best alternatives might just be sitting in your fridge. Milk has an ideal protein to carbohydrate ratio and is rich in electrolytes, making it the perfect recovery beverage.
Numerous studies have shown that chocolate milk contains a three-to-one ratio of carbohydrate grams to protein grams which enhances glycogen replenishment, as well as far more potassium, calcium and vitamin D than most sports drinks. Most importantly, it appears that milk contains a fantastic balance of fast-absorbing proteins such as whey protein (which pumps essential amino acids into the bloodstream promoting muscle growth and repair), and slow-absorbing proteins such as casein (which keeps amino acids in the blood stream many hours later, reducing the amount of muscle breakdown).
Written by Louise Damen
Louise is a two-time England Cross Country Champion and a former European XC Trials winner. She has also represented GB at various international events and her marathon PB is 2:30:00.
Homemade energy bars
Sports energy bars are unlikely to be the cheapest item in your shopping basket and many are highly processed. However it's really easy to make your own nutritious alternative for a fraction of the price. Simply blend together equal proportions of mixed nuts, dried fruit and maybe some cocoa nibs if you fancy a little treat in a food processor for some great tasting energy bars.
Flapjack is packed with carbs, making it great for pre-run fuel, however standard flapjack also tends to be high in fat and heavily processed sugar, which isn't the healthiest. You could however try this tasty homemade alternative that uses healthier ingredients. Replace the butter with mashed ripe banana, add oats and then swap the golden syrup or sugar for agar nectar. Spoon the mixture into a greased tin lined with parchment paper and bake in the oven at 180c/160c (fan) for around 25 minutes.
Energy gels provide a great source of carbohydrate that is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and are a staple for many runners during longer training runs and races. However their consistency and price can be tricky to digest. Jelly Babies however make an ideal alternative to energy gels or energy chews.