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The Top 7 Foods for Runners

From repairing muscle to maintaining energy, runners' bodies have special nutritional needs. Here, seven great foods for runners -- peanut butter tops the list!

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bagels with peanut butter
Andy Lyons
Blaine Moats
Lynn Klapperich
Ted Morrison
Blaine Moats
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Small Bagel with Peanut Butter

For runners, food does more than just squelch hunger. It also fuels your muscles and keeps you healthy.

"Runners need quality foods that provide a 'spark plug' for their energy," says Nancy Clark, RD, MS, and author of the Food Guide for Marathoners. These seven "elite" foods for runners will help you feel your best -- and keep you up and running.

Small Bagel with Peanut Butter

If you're a morning runner, you know it can be tough to hit the road on an empty stomach. It's been several hours since your last meal the night before, and your energy stores are low. Eating a 100- to 300-calorie snack before your morning run can give you energy and staying power, says Clark. This quick-and-easy snack has carbs and protein, plus it's easy to digest.

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If you need a carb-packed energy-booster before an afternoon run, it's hard to go wrong with a banana. A bonus: Bananas contain loads of potassium, which regulates blood pressure and reduces the risk of stroke.

Try these healthy recipes:

Peanut Butter & Banana Smoothie

Whole-Grain Cereal with Banana

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Your legs can take a pounding from high-impact activities like running; soreness you feel after a hard run may be caused by micro-tears in the exercised muscles. That's why, in addition to their high fiber content, berries are a good option for runners: the vitamin C and potassium they contain help the body repair itself.

Try these healthy recipes:

Berries Vinaigrette with Mascarpone

Berries with Zabaglione

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This nutritional powerhouse has vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and phytochemicals, all key for peak performance and health, says Clark.

Try these healthy recipes:

Marinated Broccoli

Broccoli and Cheddar Soup

Broccoli with Toasted Garlic

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Low-Fat Yogurt

Running and other weight-bearing exercise can help you improve your bone density. But calcium is essential part of the equation, and many runners don't get enough. One cup of yogurt contains a third of your recommended daily intake of calcium. Plus, yogurt has protein -- important for building muscle and recovering from tough workouts.

Try these healthy recipes:

Greek Yogurt with Oranges and Mint

Yogurt with Almonds and Strawberries

Yogurt with Honey and Sunflower Seeds

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Lean Beef

In addition to being a quality protein source, beef is high in iron, an especially important element for runners. (Iron deficiency can lead to fatigue.) For vegetarians, beans, peas, green leafy vegetables, and iron-fortified cereals are good sources of iron.

Try these healthy recipes:

Portobello-Smothered Beef Medallions

Chunky White Bean Soup

Black Bean Couscous

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Wild Salmon

In addition to being a good protein source, salmon contains loads of heart-healthy omega-3 fats, which can counteract inflammation and fend off disease.

Try these healthy recipes:

Salmon with Sweet Glaze

Seared Salmon with Cherry Tomato Sauce

Broiled Salmon Fillets with Hummus Sauce

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What do you think? Review this slideshow!

aksanaelina wrote:

Workout helps to provide strength and power. But a good quality food described in this blog is beneficial. Computer take input and produce output, the same situation is true at our lifestyle as we must have to take good quality food after Surf Workouts.

3/12/2013 10:19:15 PM Report Abuse
jessica_yanez91 wrote:

yea! I knew for a fact that were supposed to eat something before going on the morning run because your body is barely starting up again. I've been looking for something that is going to benefit me in the long run, not slow me down or weigh me down. =]

5/5/2012 10:25:24 AM Report Abuse
museberry31 wrote:

So many of the diet training plans are designed for folks that can east gluten. Does anyone know of good gluten-free, or generally restrictive diet ideas for those of us trying to fuel through alternatives?

3/5/2012 01:25:22 PM Report Abuse
Zee503 wrote:

This morning I decided to have a runner's guide eating plan. I had multiwheat bread (toasted) with creamy peanut butter, fresh banana, and pomegranate raspberry natural tea (Stash). It was soooo delicious!!

10/20/2010 08:06:26 AM Report Abuse

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