A well-planned running diet can be very effective even if it doesn’t include animal protein, writes Nandini Reddy
Runners need more calories and optimal nutrition to ensure that they have enough fuel for runs and recovery. All diets need not have animal products and vegetarian diets can be as effective for runners. What one needs to remember that the diet should have vitamins, minerals, fats and protein aside from carbohydrates and fats.
Why you should consider a vegetarian diet?
Vegetarian diets have a high amount of carbs and fibre and are rich in Vitamin C and folate. Runners who are vegetarians also find it easier to maintain a lower body weight thus their joints take less pounding when they run. A well-planned vegetarian diet will have your daily calories and nutrients coming from fruits, vegetables whole grains, nuts, beans, seeds and diary. A runner would need a 2500 calorie well-balanced diet with about 70% of the calories coming from carbohydrates.
- In your every day diet ensure that you include enough plant proteins from beans and diary.
- You can meet your daily protein requirements with protein drink that contain whey.
- Complex carbs like jowar and bajra release energy slowly and are great for runners.
- The biggest nutrient that vegetarians lack is Vitamin B12 which is essentially found in animal protein, but you can include fortified soya or rice milk to get your daily requirements.
- If you like rice, then you might want to switch out polished rice to unpolished rice or red/black rice.
- Palak or spinach is a great source of Vitamin C and iron, two ingredients that are essential for runner endurance.
- Curd is a great source of calcium and can be included as a lassi or buttermilk or during lunch.
- You need to ensure that you have fats in your diet. Olive oil, rice bran oil, avocados and nuts are great sources of fat.
- Natural fats help lubricate your joints and it is important for runners to have healthy joints.
- Nut butters are also a great source – you choose between peanut and almond butters. They can be added to smoothies or just spread on toast. If you are creative, then you can make a salad dressing with them.
- Diary and derivative so milk like paneer are good sources of protein but they have an upper limit of consumption every day. If you are looking at building body mass, then full fat milk should be included.
- If you are vegan the you can opt for almond milk and rice milk
- Sprouts make for a great snacking option
Sports nutritionists today are open to planning diets that are vegetarian and cover the protein requirement that is essential for runner endurance.