While many of us run purely to get fit and burn calories, eating the right food can be critical in getting the best out of your training. A great way to stay on track with your diet is to consume healthy snacks throughout the day, and both before and after a run.
Sports Dietitian John Swale, said: “The right snack can prevent premature fatigue on a run and can help keep blood-sugar levels steady, stopping bad moods that may cause you to tire out early”.
With this in mind, and with the help of several specialists in the field of health and nutrition, we’ve put together a list of the best and most healthy running snacks:
Porridge is the perfect snack for before a race, but it’s also good for whenever you wake up feeling hungry and ready for a hearty breakfast. Dietitian Roanna Freeman, said: “Porridge is a great way to start the day as it will make you feel fuller for longer meaning you are less likely to snack throughout the day.” Studies have shown that a bowl of porridge helps lower cholesterol, and it will also fill you with plenty of carbohydrates to boost energy and alertness.
Calories: 250kcal per bowl made from 45g dry oats and semi-skimmed milk
Honeyed banana and dried fruit porridge
2) Greek yogurt with fresh fruit
Low in fat and fairly high in carbohydrates, yogurt is an excellent source of calcium, protein and potassium. Its live and active cultures are good for the digestive system, and the fruit provides a variety of potassium and vitamins.
Calories: 250kcal per 200g of low-fat yoghurt and handful of fresh fruit
Bananas provide both carbohydrates and potassium, which help prevent muscle cramps. They’re easy to digest because of the simple sugars and low amount of fibre, making it the ideal pre-run snack (though make sure you give yourself at least 90 minutes to digest before running). Banana chips are also great to take on long runs for energy boosts.
Calories: 105kcal per medium-sized banana, 150kcal per handful of banana chips
Banana – the perfect running snack
Smoothies are packed full of calcium, potassium and vitamins C and A when made with fruit such as bananas orange juice and frozen berries. Smoothies can work well for breakfast, before a run, or as a refreshing, re-energising post-run treat.
Calories: Approximately 200kcal per 350ml
Ingredients for fruit smoothie
Though fairly low in calories, carrots are filling, making them an ideal snack for runners who are trying to loose weight. A great time to eat them is just before dinner, so you can satisfy your hunger, and avoid over-eating during the meal.
Calories: 30-40kcal per medium-sized carrot
6) Cereal bars
When you need a snack that’s easy to pack in your gym bag, cereal bars are a great option and work well as a pre-run snack (though make sure you eat it over 90 minutes before you plan to run). Be careful when selecting your cereal bars as some can contain as much fat and sugar as chocolate bars – choose ones with just a few ingredients, so you know they’re not filled with unnecessary additives.
Calories: From around 110kcal per 30g bar
7) Hummus and Pitta bread
Hummus and pitta bread is packed with protein, fibre, vitamin B6 and folic acid (but be careful: hummus can have up to 27.9g of fat per 100g, even though it’s almost all the ‘healthy’ kind). Hummus works well as a substantial mid-morning or afternoon snack, and can also work well as a healthier evening alternative to peanuts or other fried party snacks.
Calories: 280kcal per three tablespoons of hummus and one pitta
Homemade chilli hummus and pitta
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Swimming and running compliment each other in so many ways, and when it comes to fitness, recovery, and feeling good, an hour in the pool is worth as much, if not more, as an hour on the roads.
Swimming can be used by runners to develop lung capacity, strengthen core muscles, refresh workout routines and ultimately, improve running fitness. Runner’s World magazine calls pool workouts “hands-down the best cross-training for runners”
The resistance of water offers a cooling workout that taxes the body enough to maintain cardiovascular and muscular fitness, while zero-impact environment aids in recovery and injury prevention.
Below are a list of several ways you can integrate swimming into your regime:
Rather than plunging into longer, endurance-style swimming, initially try interval training using regular freestyle. Sprint 25 meters (one length), rest 30 seconds, then repeat four to six times. Eventually increase your sprinting distance until you can do 50 meters (two lengths) six times. Finish each set with a few slow, easy laps of freestyle or breaststroke.
Swim laps for stamina
Those who are used to running long distances but haven’t swum in a while may have a shock when hitting the water. Swimming uses muscles and fitness in completely different ways to running, so to start, time how long it takes to swim 10 steady laps,using a combination of breaststroke and front frontcrawl to avoid boredom. Try and improve on this time a few times. By swimming for long-periods will help build lung capacity.
Deep-water running provides cardiovascular benefits while strengthening thigh, ankle and calf muscles in a low-impact workout. Standing in chest-high water, run across the pool, using normal running form. The water provides resistance, so you have to work harder to run.
To gauge your pace, compare how you feel while running in the water with how you feel running on the road (your perceived exertion). Or use your land times as a guide. If you typically do an interval workout of 8 x 400, take your time, say, one minute and 40 seconds, and run 8 x 1.40 at a hard effort in the pool.