Runners diet

Best Runners Diet and Food for Runners: Fuel Your Run

Your output is only as good as your input.  That is why properly fueling your run with the best runners food and runners diet is critical to your performance.  Eating healthy and purposefully are admittedly the supporting roles in a complete running training plan-they are not the gratifying moments of crushing a mile long uphill climb, or crossing a marathon finish line-but your journey to get to these monumental achievements will be much more effective and successful with the proper food for runners.  And you do not have to spend tons of money, shop at elite stores, or drastically change your lifestyle, to achieve the best diet for runners.  Your best runners food choices can be simple, straightforward, and realistic.


Fuel your body with the right foods for training

Disclosure: Below are some affiliate links-these are all products I highly recommend. I won’t make any recommendations on this page that I haven’t tested or personally used!



The very best first step you can take in committing to eating a better runners diet, is to create an intentional plan to do so!  Don’t just wing it or hope to incorporate better fuel into your everyday diet – be intentional, with a daily and weekly meal tracker like this one!



The Cornerstones of a Runners Diet:


  • Carbs
  • Proteins
  • Fruits
  • Veggies


The categories of a runners diet


>>>>Download your own copy of this helpful graphic HERE!


The Importance of a Runners Diet


The secret to the best runners diet is this.  There is no real secret.  Imagine asking someone what the best healthy diet is, and odds are the best healthy diet for any adult closely mimics the best diet for runners.  That is what makes runner’s food plans so realistic and simple.  They are foods that any health conscious adult should be striving to include in their meals, regardless of their activity level and training goals.



The best food for runners should incorporate a healthy balance of all nutritional essentials:  carbs, proteins, fruits, and vegetables.  As a runner, you should strive to incorporate as many of these categories into your runners diet each and every day, consistently.



That means, do not gorge on protein and fruit the morning of your big race, but neglect to disperse those foods into your regular meals.  Just as with every other aspect of a successful running training plan, a runners diet must be implemented regularly, consistently, and intentionally.


***How can you help yourself stay regular, consistent, and intentional?  Grab this handy weekly meal tracker!


And here is where it sometimes gets tricky.  What exactly are healthy carbs?  What proteins are the most beneficial to a runner’s diet?  Which fruits and vegetables provide the most energy for runners?  What are the benefits of dairy to a runner’s diet?  Again, the answers to these questions, as well as the food choices available, are simple, realistic, and straightforward.



The Best Food for Runners


Below are some suggested examples of the best food for runners in each category.



Carbs In a Runners Diet:


I’ll start with carbs, because for me, carbs are the most fun runner’s food to eat!  They also require the most self control, because there are a lot of bad carb options out there.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever eat that pepperoni pizza, but it does mean that you should include a lot of other healthy options in the mix as well (hopefully more healthy carb options than unhealthy ones)!



Examples of Healthy Carbs:


  • Whole Grain Bread
  • Whole Grain Pasta
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Oatmeal
  • Legumes


Best carbs for a runners diet



Proteins In a Runners Diet:


Proteins are building blocks that make up a healthy, active body, as well as a crucial component of the best diet for runners.  Proteins will help keep your body strong, as it endures the stamina that is involved in a running regimen.



Examples of Healthy Proteins:


  • Yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Nuts
  • Beans
  • Chicken
  • Salmon
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Peanut Butter


>>>>MORE:  Find out just why peanut butter is such an awesome runner fuel here!


Proteins are part of a runners diet



Fruits and Veggies In a Runners Diet:


A great way to inject beneficial vitamins and nutrients into your runner’s diet, is with daily fruit and vegetable input.  Always make an effort to include both a fruit and vegetable option in your meals.



Examples of Healthy Fruits and Vegetables:


  • Berries (Raspberries, Tart Cherries)
  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Tomatoes
  • Butternut Squash
  • Chick Peas


Fruits and vegetables make up the best diet for runners



Which Foods Should You AVOID on a Runners Diet?


It’s not always just about what you SHOULD eat on a runners diet, but what you should also avoid.  There are some foods that will make running more difficult, and here’s a few of the common culprits:


  • Spicy foods – some spicy foods can cause gastrointestinal upset, which is bad news for runners
  • Foods high in fiber – can cause bloating, gas, and camping
  • Foods high in fat – much like spicy foods, foods high in fat can upset your stomach
  • Caffeine – caffeine acts as a stimulant, so tread cautiously.  Many runners enjoy a cup of coffee before a run, but for some it can overstimulate.


What’s the Best Way to Stick to a Runners Diet?


The answer to that question is intentionality.  Being intentional is a key to successfully implementing just about every step of a long term running routine. 


Getting out there and running regularly has to be intentional.  Taking rest days and cross training days has to be intentional.  Making sure to include these healthy runner’s food options into each day has to be intentional.  If you just wing it, or hope to just happen to make these food choices by coincidence, your rate of success is bound to go down.


As with any other running training component, I think the best way to stick to a plan is to plan it out.  Start by making a rough schedule of what things you’d like to eat each day.  Remember, it not about eliminating all unhealthy choices, because that is unrealistic.  It is about looking for opportunities to include additional healthy choices to fuel your runs, or making a swap between a regular potato to a sweet potato instead, or regular pasta to whole grain pasta.  Or tossing some strawberries or almonds in your salad. 


Write down a quick list for the day, the week, or the month, and include a few choices that you will intentionally make an effort to include in your meals.


So, does implementing a runner’s diet and choosing the best food for runners really make a difference in running performance?


Yes.  It is gas for the running machine.  Ask anyone who has ever run 10 miles after eating healthy carbs versus empty ones, the difference it makes.  For the majority of us out there, including myself, running is not easy.  But you can make it easier.  And choosing the right food for runners is a big step.


You will absolutely notice the energy spike and the sustained stamina that comes from supplying your body with the right fuel it needs.   As you cruise along with your running routine, take note of which specific runners food choices “sit best” with your body.  These are the ones that you want when planning your week before, day before, and morning of race day meals.


Finally, when implementing your food plan, remember why you run in the first place.  For many runners, it is the spirit of determination, persistence, and grit.  And that includes how you fuel as well.


The basics of a runners diet


Ready to take on a half marathon or full marathon race?  A runner’s diet is just one part!  Get the other parts of my running training plan!

16 Week Half Marathon Training Plan for Beginners


16 Week Marathon Training Plan for Beginners





Get the right fuel for your training


The best runners diet

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