11 Vegan Foods that Will Help Your Marathon Training
Will you be one of the almost 600,000 people this year in the United States who will complete a marathon? Be sure you include these great vegan foods in your daily diet!
Once you have decided that you are ready for 26.2, your life changes. You sit down with a calendar and a marathon training plan and map out your weeks of building miles, incorporating speed work and hills into your plan, and leaving time for tapering.
But have you also thought about how important what you eat on a daily basis can be for your training as well? Nutrition is a key component in determining your performance on marathon race day.
Vegan Runners are no different from other runners – you need to ensure the proper balance of carbohydrate for energy, protein for healing, and fats for sustainability. You need to hydrate. You need to ensure that you incorporate micronutrients for both performance and recovery.
Here are 11 great foods to make sure you include in your daily vegan diet if you are training for a marathon or other endurance event:
Bananas - Potassium is a mineral that works with sodium (also a mineral) to balance the fluids and electrolyte levels in your body. And since steady fluid levels help to regulate your heartbeat and prevent muscles from cramping, potassium is of particular importance to runners.
Other great vegan sources of potassium include Apricots, Avocados (see below), Cantaloupe, Honeydew, Kiwi, Lima beans, Oranges, Prunes, Spinach and Tomatoes
Avocado – In addition to being a good source of potassium, avocados are also rich in monounsaturated fat—specifically omega 9 oleic acid (which is the same type of fat found in olive oil). These healthy fats also improve your cholesterol profile which translates into a lowered risk of heart diseases and stroke. Avocado also is a good source of carotenoid antioxidants, phytosterols and polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols, all of which can help reduce muscle and joint soreness and speed up recovery between hard runs.
Berries – All colorful berries are great sources of antioxidant nutrients, but blueberries in particular stand out in one study. Researchers at Appalachian State University fed a group of runners one cup of blueberries daily for six weeks, while a control group was given no berries. Volunteers who ate the berries had less inflammation and better immune health following long runs.
Dark Leafy Greens – What can’t these do? Dark Leafies provide Vitamin A for boosting the immune system, vitamin K for strong bones and vitamin C which may help lower heart rate during exercise which can reduce the perception of fatigue and exertion.
Dates – Many whole food/plant based runners use dates as a glucose source during long runs instead of gels. 2 medjool dates = 35 grams carbohydrate, which is just the amount you need to support an hour of running. They are also rich in Potassium, fiber, and iron
Beets - Research shows that beets are excellent performance boostes due to their abundance of nitrates which help runners’ muscles use oxygen more efficiently. Beets also contains betalains, potent antioxidants that help fight cell-damaging free radicals.
Tart Cherries – Researchers have found that tart cherry juice may help ease muscle pain associated with intense exercise. For instance, runners in two studies who drank Montmorency tart cherry juice before and after long-distance races experienced a faster recovery of strength and less muscle pain compared to those who drank a different beverage.
Pumpkin Seeds – Zinc is essential for a healthy immune system. Endurance exercise seems to reduce zinc levels in the body, which may be part of the reason why runners are more prone to colds and upper respiratory tract infections immediately following races or tough workouts.
Chia Seeds – Chia seeds are a good vegan source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Some research shows that omega-3’s may alleviate joint pain, common in runners. They may also help runners who suffer from exercise-induced asthma.
Quinoa - This South American grain contains a high-quality protein that helps support exercise recovery and muscle growth. Quinoa is also rich in magnesium, an often under-consumed mineral linked to improved strength.
Sweet Potatoes - Sweet potatoes provide runners with the necessary carbohydrates to help support regular physical activity, as well as high amounts of beta-carotene, which improves bone, immune and eye health. The potassium will also enables your body to convert carbohydrates to glycogen, the most important fuel for high-intensity exercise.
No Meat Athlete