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Farm-Fresh Food to Fuel Your Run

Updated: Sep 6, 2019

By: Elisa Valade, Taste Alberta

Whether you are training for an upcoming race, or prefer the non-competitive, casual jog as your go-to form of exercise, the food you eat is so important for giving you the energy and endurance your body needs in this physical sport.

As a runner, I’ve trained for 10K races and half marathons alike. Although my food intake looks slightly different depending on the distance I am training for, I always have my go-to food sources that help me fuel for, and recover from, my training days. I’m a firm believer that fueling our bodies with a balanced diet consisting of healthy sources of carbohydrates, proteins and fats will give us the energy we need to move our bodies, improve our performance and help our muscles recover. While there are many excellent supplements on the market that help athletes get an adequate amount of their macro nutrients, I always advocate for fueling your body with fresh, whole foods first and foremost.

Dietitians such as Debra McLennan agree: “You can maximize the benefits of your training with the right nutrition. Eating a healthy balance of protein, fat and carbohydrate from a range of whole foods ensures you have the right nutrients before and after your training.”

Here are some of my favourite local, farm-fresh food sources that you can incorporate into your pre- and post-run meals to help fuel your body and support with recovery.

1. Eggs

With 6g of protein and only 70 calories per one large egg, eggs are one of the most nutrient-dense foods nature has to offer. Eggs are also major source of vitamins and minerals, including iron and vitamin D. These muffin tin frittatas are a great ‘grab-and-go’ pre-run snack, or cook up a single poached egg to add to this hearty breakfast power bowl. The opportunities are endless. If you are concerned about the high levels of cholesterol for your individual health reasons, we completely understand. According to Egg Farmers of Alberta, “healthy adults can enjoy an egg every day without increasing their risk of heart disease.” In fact, the “lutein found in egg yolks also protects against the progress of early heart disease.”

Still feeling concerned? Ditch the egg yolk and whip-up an egg white omelet instead to get that healthy protein in.

2. Canola Oil

We now know that, when consumed in moderation, dietary fat is essential for good nutrition. Oils that are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are important for providing energy and absorbing fat-soluble vitamins. According to Alberta Canola Producers, canola oil is claimed to be the world’s healthiest cooking oil, because it offers the best blend of fats for good health and it is low (7%) in saturated fat. Lucky for us Albertans, we are in no shortage of this healthy fat source, and because of its neutral taste, it’s easy to add to your pre- and post-run meals. Simply, drizzle it on a crisp salad with some balsamic vinegar for added taste, or lightly coat your seasonal veggies before grilling.

3. Chickpeas + Other Pulses

Pulses are becoming wildly popular, especially as fuel for fitness, and for good reason. Pulses, including lentils, chickpeas, beans and peas, are a very nutrient dense food, and a high source of both healthy carbohydrates and protein. Pulses are also packed with essential nutrients that support a healthy heart, including fibre, folate and potassium (which is particularly important for runners). These health-filled foods can be easily added as a side to any meal to help restore your energy levels and repair your muscles. They are also an excellent plant-based alternative for vegetarian/vegan runners looking to increase their protein intake. Try them in one of these great recipes from Alberta Pulse Growers after your next run:

1. Baked stuffed zucchini boats

2. Bean and berry power smoothie

Happy fueling!

Opinions expressed in this blog are those of Taste Alberta and do not necessarily reflect the provincial and federal governments.

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