Running not only clears the head, it is also the ideal sport to kill a few superfluous kilos. But the diet must also be right, otherwise you’ll be exhausted after just a few metres. “Runners often limit themselves too much when it comes to eating,” says Shawn Dolan, long-distance runner and professor of sports science at California State University. “This can lead to a shortage of essential nutrients.”
In studies Dolan found out: Runners who are afraid of eating too much fat tend to avoid dark meat and nuts. They also eat little or no dairy products. This can lead to their body getting too little iron, vitamin E and calcium. And this affects their mileage.
The optimal nutrition for female runners
But even with a balanced diet, an undersupply can occur, as these vital substances are only contained in larger quantities in a few foods. Therefore, it is important to focus not only on a sufficient supply of healthy carbohydrates (which give you power), but also on your vitamin and mineral balance.
Race you to the girls? Those who are optimally supplied with nutrients leave everyone else behind © SunKids / Shutterstock.com
With our tips you can improve your nutrient intake in no time at all:
First iron: That’ll keep you going…
In order to achieve the best performance when running, a good oxygen supply is absolutely necessary – and iron provides exactly that. Animal iron from offal, meat, fish and eggs can generally be better utilized by your body than iron from plant foods.
These foods contain particularly high levels of iron
In order to push the absorption capacity even further, you need a few extra helpers: Vitamin C, for example, improves the absorption of iron. So always combine iron-rich foods with a glass of orange juice. Proteins also help the body to dissolve the iron from the food in question. You should also reduce your coffee and tea consumption. Their polyphenols (secondary plant compounds) can block the absorption of iron.
2. calcium: ensures strong bones and joints
99 percent of the calcium stored in the body is in our teeth and bones, where it provides stability. The remaining percent of the mineral is dissolved in tissue and blood, where it supports the interaction between muscles and nerves, promotes blood clotting and spares us from nasty muscle cramps.
How to cover your calcium needs
Just one portion of yoghurt, quark or a glass of milk covers about 30 to 40 percent of your daily calcium requirement, which is around 1000 milligrams. Dairy products also contain vitamin D, which additionally improves the body’s absorption of calcium. You should also eat calcium-enriched products such as energy bars. They contain more calcium than vegetable foods.
Milk, cheese and quark are top sources of calcium © Africa Studio / Shutterstock.com
Vitamin-C -By the way, foods rich in iron increase not only the absorption of iron, but also of calcium. For example, mix strawberries, blueberries, kiwis or other vitamin-rich fruits with milk or yoghurt to make a calcium-rich shake.
3. vitamin E: protects and strengthens the cells
Vitamin E is one of the so-called antioxidants. Antioxidants protect us from free radicals, i.e. aggressive oxygen compounds that damage our cells. This reduces muscle damage after training and improves running performance. But vitamin E is also important for blood circulation and elasticity, has an anti-inflammatory effect and strengthens our defences.
Food with a lot of vitamin E
Just a handful of almonds, sunflower seeds or hazelnuts, a tablespoon of sunflower or safflower oil provide about 20 to 40 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin E. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means that for the body to be able to absorb vitamin E optimally, fat must be absorbed at the same time. Fortunately, fat is already included in nuts and vegetable oils.
Nuts provide abundant vitamin E © id art / Shutterstock.com
Vitamin E can work even more effectively if sufficient vitamin C is also available, because vitamin C regenerates vitamin E consumed in the body.
With a balanced diet you can increase your running performance in a completely natural – and delicious – way. We like that!