Running has gained popularity in recent years, and for good reason.
It’s a powerful way to lose weight, increase strength and improve overall wellness. However, many novice runners make drastic dietary mistakes than do more harm than good. The result? They end up burning out, injuring themselves or not really losing weight.
Today, we’ll let you in on some tips to eat healthy as a runner. Plus, we’ll present you with a sample week meal plan with a little help from Women’s Health magazine.
Always eat a balanced meal
The ideal runner’s balanced meal is about 20% fats, 60% complex carbohydrates and 20% proteins. Achieve these through fresh, whole and nutritious meals everyday and you’ll never need a vitamin pill.
Meet the average daily calorie intake
Many make the mistake of skipping meals or eating far too less just to “hasten” the weight loss process. However, this is one of the worst ways of shedding off the extra pounds. The average calorie intake of a runner should be no less than 1,500 nutrition-packed calories a day.
Amp up your water consumption
Runners are supposed to drink at least two liters of water everyday. Sure, you can drink energy drinks, tea and coffee but be reminded that these fluids don’t hydrate you the way water does. Alcohol also dehydrates you. So if you can cut back on that, do so.
Sample meal plan
Here’s an ideal week meal plan for runners who want to start and end strong. Note that each meal was coded by letter based on its calorie count:
AA: 200 calories or less
A: 250-300 cal
B: 300-350 cal
C: 350-400 cal
D: 400-450 cal
E: 450-500 cal
F: 500-550 cal
G: Over 550 cal
½ cup dry steel cut oatmeal. Cook and serve with ½ cup skim milk
1 cup fresh blueberries
Sprinkle with small handful of raisins
Cup of coffee with 2 Tbsp Fat Free creamer (i.e. Land O’Lakes)
3 oz. light, water-packed tuna, mixed with 1 Tbsp light mayonnaise, 1 stalk chopped celery, and 2 Tbsp chopped sweet onion (i.e. Vidalia). Serve on lettuce with 4 slices ripe tomato
5 thin crispbreads (i.e. Wasa or Kavli)
1 cup fresh raspberries
6 oz. lean Pork Tenderloin, roasted
1 cup steamed green beans seasoned with garlic powder and dash black pepper
½ medium sweet potato, baked
1 cup natural unsweetened applesauce (i.e. Musselman’s Natural Applesauce)
Generous (2 cups) salad of mixed greens
Breakfast Smoothie: ½ cup unsweetened frozen berries, 1 small banana, 1 cup skim milk, 1 cup non-fat yogurt, 2 cups ice cubes. Combine in blender and process on high until smooth.
2 cups (8.6 oz) Healthy Choice Soup: Roasted Chicken with Garlic (or other soup with 120 cal/cup)
10 slices peeled jicama, 1 large red pepper cut into strips
¼ cup hummus
Small salad of mixed greens and raw veggies
Lean frozen entrée which contains 260 calories or less:
Examples: Lean Cuisine Comfort Classics Baked Chicken, Spa Cuisine Chicken Pecan, Spa Cuisine Pork with Cherry Sauce, Café Classics Chicken Teriyaki and Chicken Caesar Bowls, Healthy Choice Roast Turkey Breast or Beef Merlot, Lean Gourmet Shrimp Scampi, Budget Gourmet Beef Pepper Steak with Rice, Stuffed Pepper Casserole.
½ baked medium sweet potato, top with cinnamon and drizzle of maple syrup
Spread 2 Tbsp fat free sour cream on 3 large crispbreads (i.e. Wasa)
Top with 3 oz smoked salmon. Sprinkle with, capers and chopped onion.
Serve on lettuce and garnish with 1 medium tomato, sliced
Hard-boil 3 eggs and let cool. Cut in half and scoop out yolks. Mash yolks with 1 Tbsp reduced fat mayonnaise and a bit of black pepper. Replace yolks in egg white and sprinkle with paprika.
½ cup pinto beans seasoned with chili powder
3 ribs of celery and 4 slices of red or yellow bell pepper
Tender Chicken Packet:
Place 4 oz chicken breast on piece of aluminum foil. Top chicken with 2 lemon slices and a splash of lemon juice, some paprika and garlic powder and a handful of chopped fresh herbs i.e. mint and basil. Fold foil into a packet leaving a bit of room at the top for steam to rise. Seal well. Bake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Open packet carefully.
10-15 steamed green beans topped with small amount of Dijon mustard and sprinkle of chopped walnuts
2 Tbsp mango or fruit chutney
Small mixed greens salad
6 oz container plain Greek yogurt (i.e. Oikos)
Mix in 1 medium chopped apple, ½ Tbsp ground flaxseeds, 1 tsp cinnamon, dash nutmeg.
½ whole grain English muffin
½ Tbsp heart-healthy spread (i.e. Smart Balance)
2 slices of lean turkey breast spread with Dijon mustard. Roll each slice around 1 oz light string cheese. Wrap each roll in a leaf of romaine lettuce.
Handful baby carrots
8 cherry tomatoes
Generous mixed greens salad
Sprinkle a 6 oz halibut steak with pepper. Broil, about 5-6 minutes on each side, until fish is cooked through.
Combine 1 small, diced nectarine, 1 orange segment, chopped, ¼ small red onion chopped, 1 Tbsp minced cilantro leaves, one mint leaf, minced, 1 t. lemon juice. Serve over fish.
½ head of small cauliflower, steamed and tossed with 2 tsp curry powder and 1 Tbsp raisins
Small salad of mixed raw vegetables and lettuce
1 cup low sugar, whole grain cereal (i.e. Kashi GoLean)
¾ cup skim milk
½ medium banana, sliced
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 bowl (2 cups) Minestrone soup (or any soup that has about 120 cal/cup)
Large salad of mixed greens and raw vegetables
1 small whole-wheat pita
In 1 tsp olive oil, sauté 1 minced clove of garlic and one small chopped onion until soft. Add 2 medium chopped tomatoes, a splash of dry white wine, a shake of oregano and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Cook until tomatoes are soft, about 2 minutes. Add 8 medium shelled and cleaned shrimp. Turn heat to low and cook about 5 minutes until shrimp are pink. Remove from heat. Top with ¼ c low fat feta cheese and finish with a bit of chopped parsley
½ c cooked carrots
4 spears steamed broccoli
2 large eggs, scrambled
2 strips of cooked, extra-lean turkey bacon (i.e. Jennie-O)
2 Tbsp salsa
1 medium wedge cantaloupe
3 thin slices pineapple
LUNCH (D) Curried Tuna Salad
Combine 3oz water packed light tuna with 1 Tbsp light mayonnaise mixed with a bit of water, 1 small apple diced, 1 Tbsp raisins, ¼ c diced red onion. Add curry powder to taste
1 cup canned light fruit salad (or 1 cup fresh)
Large salad (2 cups) of mixed greens and your favorite raw veggies
2 Turkey Burgers (3 oz each), grilled on tabletop grill (i.e. a George Foreman)
Splash of Worcestershire sauce for seasoning
6 asparagus (fresh, steamed, or canned)
1 cup sliced carrots, steamed
1 cup light fruit salad, canned
2 cups mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, red onion
SUPER CONVENIENCE DAY
1 cup whole grain cereal (i.e. Kashi Go Lean)
1 cup skim milk
1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
Season with cinnamon and drizzle of honey if desired
Subway 6 inch Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki Sandwich on whole wheat bread (no cheese)
Other choices: Any of the 6” sandwiches with 6 grams of fat or less.
Veggie Delight Salad, Subway Fat Free Italian Dressing
Other choices: McDonald’s Salad with Crispy Chicken (use your own dressing) plus a serving of chicken noodle soup, Wendy’s Mandarin Chicken Salad (use your own dressing, no toppings or noodles) plus yogurt with granola cup
Lean Cuisine: Garlic Beef and Broccoli
Other choices: Any other frozen dinner with calories around 180
Large Green Salad with 2 Tbsp Crumbled Gorgonzola cheese and 3 Tbsp dried cranberries
1 container Fruit Sauce with no added sugar (i.e. Motts Healthy Harvest Country Berry)
image source: womenshealthmag.com