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Runners Nutrition

Updated on December 7, 2011

Eating well is vital for great workouts

As a runner you need to take extra care in preparing a suitable diet which can benefit you.

Nutrition directly affects how a runner can feel and work so there has always been a strong emphasis on improving our diet.

The most universally accepted aim is to have a balanced diet which consists of various food types. In each of my categories below you will find some great ways to improve your running by reading my explanations about nutrition.


Water makes up over half of our body weight!

Every single cell in our bodies constantly uses water for functioning. Due to the nature of running we put a lot of stress on our body and the supply of water will slowly diminish.

Without water your body could not regulate it's temperature. Sweating is an important process of cooling the body down, the more water we hold the more we can cool down.

To maintain good all round wellness drinking roughly 8 glasses of water a day is the recommended amount for the average person. During exercise you should consume more water - but most of all try to remember to drink before, during and after every workout! Here are some liquids to increase hydration.

  • Water!
  • Fruit Juices
  • Isotonic Sports Drinks
  • Milk
  • Tea/Coffee


The amount of carbohydrates you consume should be around the 60-65% mark of your total calorie intake. (Look out for your average daily guidelines if you don't know your calorie intake).

Carbohyrates are definitely where you'll get most of your energy. Carbohydrates are essential for great running performance because the energy from carbs are slow releasing giving you energy for longer periods. Our bodies harvest the energy the best from carbohydrates than any other food type.

Examples of great slow-releasing carbohydrates:

  • Pasta
  • Potatoes
  • Bread
  • Rice
  • Starchy Veg


Protein is used for growth and repair within the body.

Protein should take around 20% of your daily calorie intake. In addition to protein being one of the essential nutrients it also keeps you feeling full up for longer which is great if you're trying to lose weight.

Examples of food high in protein:

  • Lean meats: Chicken, Turkey or Fish
  • Whole Grain Foods
  • Dairy Products
  • Poultry
  • Beans


No more than 20% of your remaining diet should be fat.

A diet high in fat will pack on excess weight making running tougher. Avoid foods which are high in saturated fat, as well as foods high in cholesterol. The sort of fats you want to consume are omega oils, particularly found in fish.

Examples of food related to fat intake:

  • Avoid Junk Food / Sugar
  • Avoid Confectionary
  • Limit Dairy Intake
  • Fish (Omega Oils)


You wont actually receive energy from vitamins but they are still an essential part of your diet which cannot be over-looked. Getting your vitamins from whole foods such as fruit and vegetables will increase your wellness. However try to avoid vitamin supplements as there is no evidence that they really support improving wellness so I would steer clear from artificial productions.

Examples of food high in vitamin content:

  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Grapes
  • Strawberries
  • Carrots


A couple examples of minerals which will help your wellness are calcium and iron.

Calcium is known for strong bones and it will do exactly that when you consume it. Running is a high-impact exercise and many runners are prone to bone injuries such as shin splints therefore calcium will help prevent this.

On the other hand you will also need Iron. This mineral is important as it delivers oxygen to our cells. If you have a deficiency in iron you will be prone to feeling weak and fatigued and find running particularly hard.

Examples of foods which include Calcium and Iron:

  • Dairy Products (Calcium)
  • Whole Grain Cereals / Lean Meat / Beans (Iron)


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    • Sottway profile image

      Infopedia 6 years ago from Worldwide

      Hey jbrock2041!

      Ahh yes I totally agree that running is the enjoyable part and nutrition is the hard part. I sometimes find healthy eating is a chore on bad days - nevertheless I've kept up with it for a great period now :)

      And yes I'm a runner, are you? I'm no marathoner though, I do my running for military fitness tests. Such as: 3 miles in 20 minutes and 1 mile in 6 minutes. I think 8 miles is the furthest I've ran.

      Thanks again for a great comment.

      Take care!

    • jbrock2041 profile image

      jbrock2041 6 years ago from Park City, UT

      Running is the easy part, nutrition is the hard part. It always sounds so easy to get good nutrition but then when something tasty comes along, self-control goes out the window. Good information. Are you a runner yourself?