Hi No Meat Athlete readers! This is Megan from The Runner’s Kitchen (http://runnerskitchen.wordpress.com). I began blogging as a way to document my two passions: long distance running and eating/cooking/baking! In the past year I’ve run the New York Marathon and the Boston Marathon and I’ve realized that it takes a lot of food and nutrients to fuel a hungry runner. Read on for information about the specific nutrients runners need to be extra vigilant about.
Calcium: Running is a weight-bearing activity that makes bones stronger by causing a small amount of stress. After a run, your body will repair itself and the bone will become stronger than before. However, if you are not consuming enough calcium your bones won’t be able to repair themselves and they could become brittle and result in stress fractures. Low-fat milk and yogurt are your best bets for filling your daily calcium requirement. An 8 oz serving of either contains about 30% of your RDA. Try mixing your morning yogurt with strawberries or orange slices – the vitamin C will assist in calcium absorption. If you don’t like or can’t eat dairy. try a calcium supplement with added vitamin D (to assist absorption). I love adora brand supplements! Fortified soymilk, fortified cereal, canned salmon, and broccoli also contain a good amount of calcium.
Iron: This nutrient helps power aerobic activity because it’s necessary for the production of hemoglobin. Your body needs hemoglobin to carry oxygen from the lungs to the muscles. Without enough iron, you might feel fatigued, overly tired, and listless. Over time iron deficiency can result in anemia and low blood volume. Anemia is more common is runners due to iron loss through sweat and the constant pounding on the body which damages red blood cells in the feet and legs. Back in college I struggled with anemia (some of my main symptoms were fatigue, headaches, and a pounding heart) and had to take iron supplements for a few years. Iron supplements are annoying and can cause GI distress, so try to nip iron deficiency in the bud if you can! Men need an average of 11 mg per day and women need about 18 mg. If you eat meat, lean cuts of beef, dark poultry meat, and oysters are all great sources of heme (animal based iron). If you’re vegetarian, you can get iron from fortified cereals, beans, green peas, broccoli, and spinach. Try to eat some vitamin C with your iron-rich foods as it will help absorption. How about whole wheat pasta mixed with chickpeas, spinach, and vitamin-C rich red bell pepper? Yum! Also, avoid drinking coffee or tea immediately before or after meals as the polyphenols will interfere with iron absorbtion.
Magnesium: This trace mineral can be found mostly in muscles and bones. Magnesium assists with muscle contractions and the energy metabolism (i.e. turning food into energy). This mineral can be lost through sweating and studies show that low blood levels of magnesium are associated with decreased aerobic capacity. However, be careful about supplementation. Too much magnesium can cause diarrhea and might interfere with calcium absorption. Try to get your magnesium from food sources – leafy greens, whole grains, molasses, fortified cereals, and nuts.
Zinc: This mineral works with over 100 different enzymes in your body in metabolizing energy and supporting your immune system. This immune-boosting mineral is especially essentially for runners since our immune systems are temporarily weakened after intense workouts and races. Oysters and clams are great sources of zinc, but if you don’t eat seafood you can consume zinc by eating black-eyed peas, wheat germ, and fortified breakfast cereals. Sometimes when I feel a cold coming on, I pop a few cold-eeze (zinc lozenges). I’m not sure if they’re proven to work, but they always seem to shorten the duration of my cold!
Ice cream: Ok, ok – this is kind of a joke. But I love ice cream and I consider it a necessary part of my diet! As an endurance athlete I feel like I can afford a few extra calories, plus ice cream has a little bit of bone-building calcium. There’s nothing better than a big bowl of ice cream with sliced banana and some almonds after a hot, summer run. That’s what I call recovery food. 🙂
If you’re hungry for more, stop by The Runner’s Kitchen (http://runnerskitchen.wordpress.com).
Our 7-Day Kickstart Plan is unique in that it focuses on the highest quality whole foods (including the 7 foods worth eating every day), to make sure you get everything you need on a plant-based diet.
The Kickstart Plan includes:
The Kickstart Plan includes:
- A 7-day meal plan, built around the foods worth eating every single day
- 14 of our favorite recipes that pack in the nutrition, taste great, and are easy to make
- Focused on simplicity and speed, to minimize stress and time commitment