How Food Can Be A Runners Secret Weapon To Recovery


Have you just completed a big race or season of multiple races? Are you not bouncing back from your runs as quickly as you’d like? Do you have some big goals for power and performance you’d like to reach during your next race? Then read on to find out how food can be the key to better recovery.

Common runners ailments such as anemia, burnout, respiratory infection, digestive distress, inflammation, and muscle aches can be prevented with quality nutrition. The reason … due to the stress of running on the body, the nutrients your body needs to recover are quickly depleted. 

In fact, runner’s body needs more antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals than most.  This is true not only to crush your next PR, but to set yourself up for a lifetime of health and happiness.  

We are not going to argue here about carbohydrates versus protein, the perfect time window for refueling after a run, or the latest diet trend.  We are going to talk about real whole food and how we can use our choices around food to train, perform, and live a healthier life. 

1. Cut Out Processed Foods

These are the food items that come in boxes and bags with a long list of ingredients you can’t pronounce. They provide calories and mass but not sustenance.  They won’t fuel your body for performance now, and in the long-term deficiencies can occur due to lack of proper nutrients. These nutrients that are critical in rebuilding tissues damaged during a run. 

2. Eat More Fat

Let’s agree not to be afraid of fat anymore! In fact, many vitamins and minerals can’t be absorbed without fat. Energizing fats improve brain health, cardiovascular strength, and build lean muscle.  This is so important for recovery, especially for a runner who wants a strong heart and lean muscle mass to optimize their performance. 

3. Choose healthy fats 

More on fat . . . it isn’t’ all created equally.  The healthy fats (omega 3s) found in nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut, and olive oils are what we are looking for.  They balance hormones and decrease inflammation that is caused during a training session.  In fact, one study found these fats to be as beneficial in decreasing muscle and joint pain as ibuprofen.  

4. Load Up On Veggies

When training, we tend to run to whole grains to fuel our workouts and protein to recover.  However, we are missing out on the most important ingredient to performance and recovery. We need the high density of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients found in vegetables to build strong bodies, a robust immune system, and prevent digestive distress. 

5. Eat Slower

We all find ourselves throwing back a protein shake or grabbing a bar on the go from time to time.  In addition to being highly processed, eating these foods on the run decreases our bodies ability to utilize the nutrients to repair and recover our bodies. So sit down to eat, take time to relax, and thoroughly chew your food to allow your body to absorb all the good stuff. 

In conclusion, the major contributor to good athletic performance is good health. . . and the major contributor to good health is good nutrition. As you look to recover your body from a training run, the big race, or a season of working your body over time, consider your food choices.  Use what you put on your plate to improve your lean muscle mass, heart health, and decrease inflammation causing aches and pains. 

If you have a set back from illness or injury, how you fuel your body is even more important.  For further assistance in recovering your active lifestyle through movement, mindset, and nutrition contact our Fitness Nutrition Specialist in regards to individualized wellness coaching.  Find out more by clicking the link below.