What Are The Best Nutritional Choices For Long-Distance Runners?

Nutritional Choices For Long Distance Runners
Nutritional Choices For Long Distance Runners

Putting your body up for some serious exercise takes a lot of energy. If your favorite type of exercise is heavy weightlifting, you should know that preparing your body for the exercise is the most important part of the process. Your body needs to be ready to endure whatever you’re about to put it through. That is exactly why it is necessary for you to eat well before any type of exercise.

However, depending on the type of exercise you’re about to do, you should eat different foods. For instance, there are some pretty specific choices of food you should go for when you’re about to go running. Here are some of the main nutritional choices every long-distance runner should consume and foods where they can find them. 


The first thing every runner needs is, of course, water. Not only runners, all of us – human beings – rely heavily on water and it is simply impossible to go throughout the whole day without drinking enough water. H2O is definitely a very important nutrient and you shouldn’t avoid consuming it regularly! 

Before you go running, make sure to drink two or three cups at least two hours before running. A full cup fifteen minutes prior to start is also a pretty good idea. Another thing you should do is stay hydrated. Namely, these cups of water won’t keep you hydrated throughout the whole run, which means that you should find ways to stay hydrated during running. For instance, you can drink two cups of water during your run, if the run is an hour long.


The first thing that comes to mind when calories are mentioned in the fuel and that is exactly how calories work for your body. They bring you the strength and help you endure throughout the whole race. Depending on the distance of your route, you should determine the number of calories you’ll take in.

For instance, if you run one hour to an hour and half a day, you should consume 19 – 21 calories per one pound of bodyweight. If you run for up to two hours a day, make sure to increase your calorie intake. The best amount for two hours long exercise is 22 to 24 calories per pound of bodyweight. Depending on your running habits, make sure to decide what the best calorie intake is for you. 


Another nutrient that gives strength to your body is protein. You should take protein seriously if you want to achieve some great results and make your exercise worth it. The easiest way to consume this amazing nutrient is to add protein powder to your shakes. This is a great way to lose weight and prevent muscle loss, but it is also very important when it comes to exercising. 

Protein will improve your exercise performance immensely and it will also help your body recover from the exercise. However, it’s not just important how much protein you’re going to consume. What’s even more important is when you’re going to do it. For instance, it is believed that consuming protein right after the workout is the best way to help your muscles repair. When the amount of protein is concerned, you should know that 15-20 grams is the right amount for an hour-long exercise. 

The next important nutrient every runner should consume regularly is fiber. Fiber is not the type of nutrient that provides us with energy. However, it is far from being insignificant in a long-distance runner’s life. Fiber is pretty important because it promotes digestion, regular bowel movements, and helps lower cholesterol. 


As an active long-distance runner, you should always include fiber in your diet. However, if you could spare some time and plan ahead your fiber intake, you’ll do yourself a big favor. If you run early in the morning, you should definitely avoid eating high-fiber foods for breakfast on the day of the race. Even the dinner the night before should be free of such foods. Cramping is only one of the issues eating fibre high foods on the day of the race and that is definitely the problem you don’t want to have on such a big day. 


Finally, long-distance runners need to consume enough carbs. Carbohydrates are molecules containing carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen atoms. These macronutrients are very important since they provide you with the energy necessary to endure all of the heavy exercises you put your body through. Fiber is a type of carbs, as well as sugars and starches. You could consume whole or refined carbs, where whole carbs are unprocessed, while refined are processed and are usually linked to health issues such as obesity or type 2 diabetes. 

A long-distance runner who passes 60 minutes running needs to ingest 30 to 60 grams of carbs per hour. If you don’t know which foods contain carbs, you can always turn to bananas, dried fruit, pasta, yogurt, or quinoa. All of these foods will do amazing things for you and your body and you should make sure to implement them into your diet. 


To help your body function efficiently during your afternoon run, you need a proper high-carb energy booster. The best way to get this type of booster is by eating a banana before going on a run. Bananas contain high amounts of potassium which is extremely beneficial for your body when you need to run or do any kind of exercise. Around 400mg of potassium that can be found in a banana can give you enough energy to help you last a long-distance run.

It can also help you regain lots of valuable minerals that your body tends to lose through sweat in hot summer temperatures. Potassium, just like many other minerals such as magnesium, chloride, and sodium, helps your body make up for this kind of loss while lowering your blood pressure simultaneously. 


They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and for many reasons they are right. If you plan on going for a morning jog, your body needs to be properly “fueled”. That is why oatmeal is one of the best options you can go for. This is a perfect choice of breakfast before a run since it provides your body with the nutrients it needs for exercise. Oatmeal contains high amounts of carbs and fiber.

One serving can contain up to 25 g of carbs. In addition to that, oats have a very low glycemic index. In other words, oats will make your blood sugar level rise slowly and provide your body with the energy it needs to keep it running for a longer time. It will also have you feeling fuller for a longer time. If this didn’t convince you, you should know that an average adult needs about 50% of their total energy from carbs, and oats are perfect for providing that kind of energy in high amounts. 

Dark Chocolate

Even though candy should be avoided, especially if you’re a long-distance runner, having dark chocolate once in a while will actually do you good. Make sure to choose only quality chocolates with above 70% of cacao content to reap the full benefits. This will lower your blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and balance out your cholesterol levels. This is very important for long-distance runners, as it builds endurance, makes it easier to heal, and gives you energy.

Whole-grain pasta

If you’ve got a marathon first thing in the morning, the best thing you can do for yourself is have whole-grain pasta for dinner the night before. In fact, why not throw a pasta party with fellow runners? This will help increase your motivation and put you in the right mindset for running that marathon. 

High carbs are essential for any runner as your body stores up glycogen. In turn, you have more energy and your body has more fuel to burn while you run. Whole-grain is important as it keeps you full for longer periods of time and gives you more vitamin B. Not only does this improve your performance and endurance, but it also helps your body build muscle. 

To get the most out of your meal, it’s best to choose tuna or tomato sauce for your pasta addition. It’s healthier, lighter, full of calories, and full of additional vitamins. 


It’s no secret that caffeine gives you a quick burst of energy every time you ingest it. Drinking coffee before a marathon will help you set a better running time, as well as help you run faster in general. Of course, you shouldn’t go for the fancy sugary drinks we are all guilty of enjoying. Instead, drink pure black coffee.

To avoid the drawbacks of drinking coffee like having to go to the bathroom (which is very inconvenient during marathons), consider taking caffeine pills. They offer the same benefits with none of the drawbacks of a conventional cup of coffee.


There’s no better source of potassium than potatoes. The calorie content along with the potassium makes them a runner’s best friend. Potatoes are best ingested as a recovery meal, preferably with some salmon or chicken.

Sweet potatoes hold all these qualities, but they’re also a great source of vitamin A, making them an even better choice for any runner. Vitamin A will strengthen your bone tissue, boost your immune system, and it works as a great antioxidant.

Peanut butter

PBJ isn’t just the best breakfast ever; it is also a sort of fuel that you can get rather easily, but that will provide tons of energy, which is exactly what every runner needs, especially those running on long distances. However, you should pay attention to what kind of peanut butter you’re consuming. For it to have all of its benefits, it needs to be free of any additives, such as sugar, oil, or salt. Peanut butter is an amazing source of vitamin E – the most effective antioxidant of all the vitamins. 

Peanuts do contain a lot of fat, but they mostly contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. These are pretty significant when it comes to lowering cholesterol levels in your blood. Your immune system cannot function properly without these fats, which is just a reason more for you to consume more peanut butter. When it gets to recover your body after the run, peanut butter will help there as well, since peanut butter contains proteins and even helps your muscles grow. 

Plain yogurt

If there is the perfect combination of proteins and carbohydrates then plain yogurt must be it. Apart from being delicious, yogurt is a food of high quality by all means. It contains a protein that will help your muscles recover after the run, but it also contains calcium that will improve your bone health. The same way peanut butter does it, plain yogurt will also boost your body’s immunity. The perfect post-run snack is Greek yogurt, for example.

Greek yogurt tastes heavenly but it is also amazing for rebuilding fatigued muscles. Even though the flavored yogurt tastes better than the plain one, you should pay extra attention to what you’re eating. Many of these can contain excessive added sugar which is the last thing a runner needs in his diet.


Vitamin C is essential in a runner’s diet. A lot of athletes can have issues with sore muscles. However, a regular intake of vitamin C can prevent those issues, usually caused by intense workouts. Many people do not like the taste of broccoli, but you can find ways to include it in your diet without consuming raw broccoli. 

Broccoli is important because it is a source of calcium as well. You shouldn’t be concerned with your muscles only. You should also pay attention to your bones and taking enough calcium will leave you with some healthy bone structure.


Long-distance runners need to have a special diet. You need to give your body all of the energy it needs to endure an intense workout and with these foods, that is exactly what you’ll do!

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