Runners are no different from other athletes. They require a healthy diet. That’s where the similarity ends. There are tweaks to make each diet more appropriate for the sport. Even within running, the pantry staples will vary from those who run marathons to people who run sprints. Marathon runners need carb-loading with meals that include pasta, while sprint runners, who also use carbs, need to focus more on fruits and vegetables for carbs. What does the average runner require for pantry staples? While it will vary based on other goals, here are a few suggestions that most runners should have.
Load the pantry with carbs and grains.
Keep whole grains on hand. Consider brown rice, oats, quinoa, or bulgar. Everyone immediately thinks of pasta for meals the night before marathons. Make it whole wheat pasta for more fiber, protein, and B vitamins. Both white and sweet potatoes should be staples. While lentils and beans could be under the heading of protein, they’re also a good source of carbs. One last item most people forget is whole grain cereal. You can eat it as a snack, too.
Get a protein boost for maintaining muscle mass.
You can stock up on protein by filling your cupboards with canned chicken, salmon, or tuna. If you aren’t into canned chicken, buy a whole chicken, boil it, and put it into individual serving-size bags. When you want a chicken salad or for a main course, thaw it in the refrigerator. Save the broth for chicken rice or chicken noodle soup. A go-to sandwich for protein and carbs is peanut or other nut butter. Keep several types ready to use. Avoid any with hydrogenated oils, palm oils, or added sugar. You can also make your own if you have nuts or have nuts ready as snacks.
Healthy fats and extras play a role.
What are the healthiest fats to have? Olive oil and avocado oil for a start. Pay close attention to shelf life. Most healthy oils have a 6 to 12-month shelf life that’s shorter once the bottle is open. If you don’t use oils frequently, only have one oil opened at a time. Tahini, which is used to make hummus, is another source of fat. Keep stock on hand by freezing the stock from boiled meat, vegetables, or poultry or using bouillon cubes or canned stock.
- The oil in nuts can become rancid if stored too long. Extend their shelf-life by freezing them. Cashews, Brazil nuts, pistachios, walnuts, and almonds stay fresh for up to a year, while pecans are good for two years in the freezer.
- Granola or protein bars without added sugar can be a mini meal or healthy snack. It should have at least ten grams of protein and a healthy carbohydrate. Some healthy fat and fiber are also necessary and can come from nuts or fruit.
- If you want to boost your protein intake, add protein powders. You can add them to smoothies or sweet treats like cookies. Also, keep honey or real maple syrup on hand as sweeteners.
- Don’t forget healthy herbs and spices. They add flavor and nutrients to your food. Vinegar is also a must. No matter what type you choose, you can use it for salad dressing and other healthy recipes.
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