​Fuel Your Run With Nutrient Density, Not Quick Carbs

Updated on February 27, 2019

For years, runners were told that carb-loading before races and long runs was the way to go. The premise behind this was simple — runners require a lot of energy to keep up with their bodies’ demands so carbohydrates were considered the most suitable, quick energy foods.

However, thanks to advances in modern food and sports science, we now know that a runner’s body needs nutrient-dense food, not just lots of bread and pasta.

What Are Nutrient-Dense Foods?

Simply put, nutrient-dense foods are those that deliver generous amounts of one or more nutrients in relation to the number of calories per serving. Take for example a bag of pretzels and an apple. While they both contain roughly the same number of calories, the apple has higher nutrient density since it also provides vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Eggs are another good example since they supply vitamins, minerals, and protein in proportion to their calories.

How This Relates to Runners

As a runner, you probably know that your body has a high energy demand (some runners require up to 4000 calories a day). Since there’s only a limited amount of food you can put away in a day, it makes sense to spend your daily calorie budget wisely. If you follow outdated beliefs, you would opt to bulk up on bread, rice, and pasta. Unfortunately, these aren’t the best choice for a runner’s diet.

Your body doesn’t only need carbs to function. You need foods that provide calories as well as vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fiber. For example, B vitamins are vital sources of energy during a run while minerals and electrolytes help to ward off leg cramps. You also need to include adequate fiber in your diet — and at the right time — if you want to avoid digestive tract issues that plague many runners.

Foods to Consider Before Your Run

To get the right dietary balance to fuel your run, you need to focus on consuming nutrient-dense, low-carb foods. Keep in mind that not all carbs are created equal. Bread and pasta might be excellent sources of carbs but they also have a high glycemic index. This means that they are quickly digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, causing rapid changes in blood sugar levels.

In order to prevent this and to give your body a stable supply of energy, steer clear of highly-processed and carbs as well as refined sugars. Instead, choose whole, nutrient-complex foods. This will help you cut back on the simple sugars in your diet as well as cutting down on your processed carbs.

Other nutrient-dense foods to fuel your body include:

  • Greens. Think kale, spinach, broccoli etc. taken raw or lightly steamed.

  • Nuts or seeds. Peanuts, almonds, macadamias, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds etc. are healthy snacks and make great additions to any meal.

  • Eggs. They store well when boiled and are perfect snacks after a workout.

  • Avocado. This tastes delicious when spread over whole wheat toast and is a vegetarian source of protein and healthy fats.

  • Greek yogurt. Add this to your protein shakes, smoothies or yogurt parfaits for a tasty, high-protein treat.

  • Fish. Especially fatty fish like salmon for all the omega-3s you need, as well as protein.

Gone are the days of carb-loading. Now if you want to maximize your performance, to fuel your run and achieve your goals, you’d do well to include nutrient-dense foods in your diet.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Kevin Jones JJ


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, caloriebee.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)