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Ingredients for Every Runner’s Pantry

Eating healthy and properly fueling your body starts in the kitchen – but, it’s hard to eat right if you don’t have the necessary ingredients.  Listed here are items that should be in every runner’s pantry. 

Protein is an important component of a runner’s diet because it helps rebuild muscle tissue.  Sources of protein should be lean, and do not have to be animal-based.  Ideal proteins include:

  • Chicken breast
  • Wild-Caught Salmon
  • Canned Tuna
  • Bison (ground, steaks ,or roast)
  • Turkey (lunch meat, ground, or breast)
  • Lean cuts of beef
  • Quinoa
  • Edamame
  • Split Peas
  • Eggs
  • Canned or Dry Chickpeas
  • Canned or Dry Black beans

Carbohydrates make up the bulk of a runner’s diet because they are most readily converted into usable energy.  Avoid quick carbohydrates and refined flours and sugars as much as possible.  Great sources of carbohydrates include:

  • Spelt flour
  • Teff
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Brown rice
  • Steel cut oats
  • Whole wheat gnocchi
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Buckwheat
  • Millet
  • Amaranth
  • Popcorn

Fruits provide runners with energy, in the form of carbohydrates, and they also contain necessary antioxidants that help to reduce cell damage caused by running.  The best fruits for runners include:

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Dates
  • Fresh or Frozen Berries
  • Fresh or Frozen Cherries
  • Dry Coconut Flakes

While vegetables should be a part of every person’s diet, vegetables are especially important for runners who require a nutrient and antioxidant-dense diet.  The best vegetables for runners include:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Mushrooms
  • Parsnips
  • Beets
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Corn
  • Cauliflower
  • Onion
  • Garlic

Runners sometimes try to avoid fats, but this macronutrient is extremely important for aiding nutrient absorption as well as muscle recovery.  In fact, most nutritionists recommend that 20 – 30% of a runner’s calories come from fat.  However, not all fats are created equally.  The following types of fats are recommended:

  • Olive oil
  • Avocado
  • Sesame Seed Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Chia Seeds
  • Ground Nut Butters (i.e. peanut, almond, and cashew butter)
  • Flax Seeds

For runners without sensitivities or diet restrictions, dairy is a great source of calcium, protein, and fat.  Fermented dairy also provides probiotics, which are important for gut health.  Sources of dairy include:

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Goat Cheese
  • Mozzarella Cheese
  • Quark

When it comes to seasoning your dishes, certain spices pack extra nutritional punch and are filled with antioxidants.  These include:

  • Turmeric
  • Cumin
  • Ginger
  • Cayenne
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Cinnamon

Don’t forget hydration!  The best drinks for runners include:

  • Coconut water
  • Green tea
  • Black coffee
  • Tart Cherry Juice
  • Chocolate Milk
  • Red Wine
  • Dark Beer