When the temperature dips below zero and there’s nothing outside but snow filled streets, it can be difficult to crave anything but comfort foods.
While we love eating anything that brings us comfort, it’s important to remember that in order to maintain a healthy and balanced diet, we have to eat nutritious whole foods, too. After all, keeping your diet in check will not only keep you out of a winter slump and make you feel great, but it can also help to improve your performance as a runner.
Here are some ways to help clean up your winter (running) diet:
Limit Processed Foods
It’s no secret that packaged foods are quick and easy, but that doesn’t always mean that they’re healthy – despite what the package promises. If there’s a ton of ingredients that you can’t pronounce, it’s likely that whatever is inside, is full of additives and hydrogenated fats. Instead of grabbing the quickest meal you can get your hands on, set aside some time to prep your own meals and snacks, that way you have the ability to control every ingredient that goes into your body. Making your own protein energy balls or filling snack bags with whole grain crackers and cheese is a great alternative to anything processed.
Watch Your Sodium Intake
Runners need sodium to help regulate fluid levels, but too much salt-intake isn’t always a good thing, especially if your potassium levels are low. According to Health Canada, the average person actually consumes twice the necessary amount of sodium they need on a daily basis. While it can near be impossible to eliminate sodium altogether from a diet, keep a closer eye on food labels to keep your daily intake between 1500 – 2300 milligrams.
Stock Up on Fresh Produce
This seems obvious, but sometimes it can be hard to remember just how important it is to consume a healthy dose of fruits and veggies every day. A few of the most beneficial produce items for runners are: cooked broccoli and brussels sprouts can help to regulate your body’s vitamin K and D levels – especially in the winter, when circulating levels of vitamin D are low. Collard greens are an excellent choice as they are high in magnesium and potassium, which are two very crucial minerals for healthy blood pressure. Studies have also found that the nitrates found in collard greens may improve blood flow to exercising muscles. Even onions, both red and yellow are great additions to your diet, as they’re rich in quercetin, which helps to at combat inflammation resulting from heavy workouts. Other great vegetables to include in your diet include: winter squash, kale, cauliflower, cabbage and sweet potato.
Organic foods, especially produce, carry less pesticide residue and carry fewer contaminants. Choosing dairy and meats that are organic is a smart and easy way to avoid any harmful antibiotics.
As a runner, clean eating is especially important to help build endurance and keep your body strong. When you eat clean, you feel great, and when you feel great, your body performs at its best!
Source: Runner’s World