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8 ways runners can make their meals healthier

A few added ingredients are all you need to make your meals work harder for you

Nutrition plays a big role in athletic performance, and as a runner, you’re probably already paying at least a little bit of attention to what you’re putting in your body. Even if you’re already eating a healthy diet, there are still ways you can amp up the nutrient content of your meals. Check out these eight tips to help you get more from your meals so you can recover faster and run stronger.

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Your morning oatmeal

Oatmeal is a staple among runners because it’s convenient, nutritious and generally easy on the digestive system. You can make this classic breakfast option work harder for you by stirring in some ground flaxseed for added omega-3s and topping it with a dollop of peanut butter for a bit of protein to keep you satiated during your Sunday morning long run.

Snack-time yogurt

Yogurt is already a great option for a healthy snack, especially if you go for the Greek variety, which is higher in protein to help your muscles recover after a hard run or workout. By topping it with berries and raw cacao nibs, you give your snack a hit of antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation in your body so that you recover quicker.

Salad

Salads are a great way to up your daily vegetable intake, but generally aren’t substantial enough to fuel your training. To beef them up, try topping them with roasted sweet potato cubes and a whole grain like farro to add some nutrient-dense carbohydrates, and some sliced avocado for a hit of healthy fats. Some chickpeas or other beans contribute a dose of protein to make it a full meal.

Your lunchtime sandwich

Sandwiches are a convenient, healthy lunch option for runners, and you maximize their nutrient density by choosing whole-grain bread and filling it with lean protein and greens, like arugula. This bitter leafy green is a good source of nitrates, and studies have shown that this compound improves blood flow to your working muscles and improves performance in endurance events.

Sunday morning pancakes

Do you ever like to tuck into a fat stack of pancakes after your Sunday long run? Up your post-run recovery meal game by stirring some matcha green tea powder into the batter for a hit of antioxidants and sprinkle them with hemp hearts for a boost of healthy fats and protein.

Friday night pizza

There’s nothing like pizza night on a Friday to end the workweek, but by adding some veggies in with your usual pepperoni you can sneak in a bit of nutrition, too. Spinach, tomatoes, peppers and mushrooms are classics, but don’t be afraid to get fancy by throwing on some arugula, artichokes, or even some cooked asparagus. Pair your slice with an electrolyte beer, and you’ve got the Friday night meal of champions.

Pre-race pasta

When you’re slurping down your pasta the night before your big race, make it whole-grain. By the time you get all your sauce and toppings on there, your taste buds won’t notice the difference, but your body will.

Wine and cheese night

Pairing a fancy cheese board with a nice glass of red is a lovely way to spend a quarantine night in, but yes, you can make this meal work for you, too. When you’re picking up a fresh baguette to go with your cheese, grab a can of sardines while you’re at it. These little fishes are packed with omega-3s, B vitamins and calcium, and are one of the few good naturally-occurring food sources of vitamin D. Sardines a little too strong for you? Smoked salmon is another great addition to a wine and cheese night.

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