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Video:Essential Nutrition for Runners

with Kaytie Sproul

Learn about essential nutrition for runners so that your body gets the fuel it needs for this form of exercise. Here's more information on essential nutrition for runners.See Transcript

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Transcript:Essential Nutrition for Runners

Hi, I'm Kaytie Sproul here for About.com, and today we're going to talk about essential nutrition for runners using information from About.com's Running and Jogging site.

Essential Nutrition for Runners Starts With Carbs

Running is an effective form of exercise, but it can take its toll on our bodies if we don't make healthy dietary choices. Here are a few guidelines to follow: First and foremost, runners need carbohydrates, which is the best source of energy for athletes.

If you're a runner, carbs should account for 60-65 percent of your diet, so stocking up on whole grain pasta, rice, potatoes, fruits, starchy vegetables, and whole grain breads are your best bet.

High-Protein Diets Are Essential Nutrition for Runners

Protein should account for 15-20 percent of a runner's daily intake of calories as it provides some energy and repairs tissue damaged during the workout. Concentrating on protein sources that are low in fat and cholesterol is the way to go, for example: lean meats, fish, low-fat dairy products, poultry, whole grains, and beans.

While runner's bodies need a diet comprised of 20-25 percent fat, a high fat diet can quickly pack on the pounds. Stick to foods low in saturated fats and cholesterol such as nuts, oils, and cold-water fish, which provide essential omega-3 fats. Most experts recommend getting about 3,000 milligrams of omega-3 fat each day as it's vital for good health and can help prevent certain diseases.

Take Vitamins to Get Essential Nutrition for Runners

Runners don't get energy from vitamins, but they are still an important part of their diet. Exercise may produce compounds called free radicals, which can damage cells. Vitamins C, E, and A are antioxidants that can neutralize free radicals, so be sure to take supplements if you're not eating enough foods that contain these vitamins.

Finally, runners need to make sure that they're getting sufficient minerals from the food and beverages they consume, or from supplements. 1,000 to 1,300 milligrams of Calcium is needed per day to prevent Osteoporosis and stress fractures.

Foods That Provide Essential Nutrition for Runners

Dark leafy vegetables, beans, and eggs are just a few sources that contain the calcium runners need. Runners also need at least eight milligrams of Iron per day to deliver oxygen to their cells. Lean meats, leafy green vegetables, shrimp, scallops, and nuts can provide the iron necessary to keep a runner's body in tip-top shape.

Lastly, sodium and other electrolytes are lost when we sweat during our runs, so drinking a sports drink or munching on some pretzels after a workout can help to replenish what has been lost.

Good nutrition is essential for runners who want to maintain a healthy lifestyle; giving your body the proper balance of carbs, protein, fats, vitamins and minerals is the best way to achieve this.

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