Special Foods to Hit the Mark

It is a well-known fact that food is an important factor to perform better and recover soon. However, you require some special foods that are ideal for providing energy, building stamina and enhancing performance when you are participating in long runs like the marathon. There are special and nutrient-rich foods that offer instant and greater benefits for you to keep going through out the distance. Choose the foods that suit your requirements and taste starting from the day of training to achieve your marathon goal.1

Energy foods

Energy foods are the special boosters that are used to top up your energy levels instantly. They are available in various forms such as energy bars, gels, chews, milkshakes and smoothies. They help keep you energised and boost you to keep going. Before you start using them, it is advised to know how much and how often to take them with the help of your sports nutritionist.2

Sports drinks

Sports drinks are the specially designed fluids that provide balanced amounts of electrolytes and carbohydrates required for the run. Most of the commercially available sports drinks contain 4 to 8 g/100 mL carbohydrate and 23 to 69 mg/100 mL sodium. They serve the purposes of giving instant energy and promoting effective rehydration.3

Caffeine

Caffeine plays a prominent role in enhancing the performance as it acts as a stimulant and mood enhancer. Though beneficial, caffeine is recommended to be avoided or taken in moderate amounts during the training and run. If you are a habitual caffeine user and can’t cut down on it, have it in limited amounts to avoid dehydration problems. Studies have suggested that 4 to 5 cups of coffee a day have little or no effect on your hydration levels.4

Nutrient-rich foods

Nutrient-rich foods are the natural foods that offer enhanced benefits by providing high energy, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients. They are nutritionally dense and healthy foods that help improve the performance during run.5-8

Antioxidant-rich foods: Blueberries, chia seeds and green tea are excellent sources of antioxidants that help in cleansing your body by removing the free radicals/impurities.

Foods loaded with carbohydrates: To fuel up yourself with energy, include energy dense foods such as bananas, potatoes and sweet potatoes in your diet while training, during the run and for recovery.

Protein-rich foods: Oatmeal, milk and eggs provide abundant proteins to help improve your endurance.

Good fats: Get healthy fats from foods such as avocado, nuts and seeds. Cut down on fats such as saturated and trans fat from foods including cakes, cream, butter and deep-fried foods.

Low-fat dairy products: Include low-fat milk, milkshakes, yoghurts which are rich in calcium as well.

Vitamin- and mineral-rich foods: Eat a colourful diet with fresh fruits and vegetables to get the daily punch of diverse vitamins and minerals.

Probiotics: Probiotics like curd/yogurt can help boost your immunity and keep you healthy.

Choose your foods wisely by keeping a track on their portion size to achieve the maximum benefits.

Always prefer consulting your trainer or doctor or sports nutritionist to make sure the type of foods that suits you best as every person has a different requirement.
References
  1. Eight super foods for runners [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2016 Apr 29]. Available from: http://superfoodnetwork.org/eight-super-foods-for-runners/

  2. Energy gels for runners: how they work and when you should use them [Internet]. [Cited 2016 Apr 29]. Available from: https://runnersconnect.net/coach-corner/energy-gels-for-runners/

  3. Australian Sports Commission. Sports drinks [Internet]. 2014 [cited 2016 Apr 20]. Available from: http://www.ausport.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/594170/CORP_33413_SSF_Sports_drinks_FS.pdf

  4. 5 truths about running and caffeine [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2016 Apr 29]. Available from: http://www.runnersworld.com/fuel-school/5-truths-about-running-and-caffeine

  5. Women’s Sports Foundation. The 10 best super foods for athletes [Internet]. 2011 [cited 2016 Apr 29]. Available from: http://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/en/home/she-network/health/the-10-best-superfoods-for-athletes

  6. Top 10 superfoods for endurance athletes [Internet]. 2016 [cited 2016 Apr 29]. Available from: http://www.active.com/nutrition/articles/top-10-superfoods-for-endurance-athletes

  7. The best superfoods for runners [Internet]. 2014 [cited 2016 Apr 29]. Available from: http://www.runnersworld.com/nutrition-for-runners/the-super-diet-the-best-superfoods-for-runners

  8. Do probiotics improve running performance? [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2016 Apr 29]. Available from: http://www.runnersworld.com/nutrition-for-runners/do-probiotics-improve-running-performance