11 Super Foods Every Runner Should Eat

I hate to sound like a broken record, but the type of food you eat (before, during and after each run) has a significant influence on your running performance and overall health well being.

In fact, the kitchen is a major piece of your training arsenal. If you fail to address your nutrition needs, then expect mediocre performance, trouble, injury, you name it.

That’s why today I’m writing this…

Top Nutrient-dense Foods only

This is a list of the top nutrient-dense foods you can get you hands on.

Most of the foods on the list are high on quality carbohydrates—the stuff your muscles need to fuel for your runs—as well as healthy fats, lean protein, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins.

These foods will help you shed the extra pounds for good, speed up your fitness gains, and boost your health and wellbeing. They will also help you fight the damage of the effects of hitting the pavement as well as speeding up recovery between runs.

 The Best Super Foods 

Without further ado, here are the 11 super foods that every runner should eat on a regular basis.

  1. Beans

Beans score high on fiber—key for taming hunger—and protein, which is essential for speeding up the recovery process (and putting on muscles if that’s what you want). In fact, a cup of beans has about as much protein as two cups of milk.

They are also a significant source of energy. One cup of cooked beans has an energy dose of 30 to 40 grams of the complex, slow release carbohydrates—key energy source for runners.

As a result, make beans a part of your diet to help refill and replenish your energy tanks and strengthen your muscles.

  1. Lentils

Scoring high on starch and trigger digestive thermogenesis, lentils are truly a metabolic powerhouse.

As a runner, you need a high dosage of iron; the good news is lentils are jam-packed with this essential mineral. If you are iron-deficient, you will get tired easily, dizzy, and have pale skin and a weak immune system.

And the benefits of getting your iron from legume/lentils is that, unlike meat, lentils have no saturated fat or cholesterol.

Furthermore, these tiny vegetables score high on Vitamin B and Potassium, and other valuable nutrients.

In addition, lentils are convenient and relatively easy and quick to prepare. They can be taken out of the bad and be ready to service in less than a half an hour.

Fresh Avocado sliced over vintage wooden background close up.

  1. Avocados

Here is a funny story about the origins of the word avocado.

Although avocados score high on fat, according to study, avocados actually can help lower levels of artery-clogging LDL—what’s known as the bad cholesterol—and boost levels of HDL—what’s known as the good cholesterol.

Avocados are also rich in monounsaturated fat, which is both good for the heart and satiating. Plus, these fats are also vital for absorbing fat-soluble vitamins and helping you feel fuller for longer, which can help you control hunger and lose weight.

What’s more? This powerful fruit has more than 20 vital nutrients in its arsenal, including choline—key for brain functioning, Vitamin E, Vitamin B and so on.

The fruit is also rich in zinc, copper, and antioxidant pigments that reduce inflammation—especially post-run inflammation.

Plus, avocados are rich in this excellent runner-friendly nutrient: potassium. This powerful electrolyte plays a key role in your running and exercise since it helps in regulating heart and muscle contractions—essential for runners of all ages and levels.

Please keep in mind that avocados deliver a big calorie punch: One avocado packs roughly 220 calories and 20 grams of monounsaturated fats, but that’s not bad news, isn’t it?

Here is my full guide to avocados for runners.

  1. Eggs

In my opinion, eggs are the best source of protein. They contain all the essential amino acids that can help you speed up recovery and repair muscle damage.

In fact, one egg packs about 10 percent of your daily protein needs—of course depending on your fitness level and training goals.

One egg also packs about 30 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin K, which is crucial for promoting and keeping good bone health.

Also, eggs are also rich in choline, a brain nutrient that’s key for maximum brain functioning.

And if you are worried about cholesterol, then fret no more. Studies have shown that egg consumers are at a lower risk for heart-related problems than those who avoid eating eggs.

Not only that, research has also linked eating eggs for breakfast with sustained weight loss other health benefits.

By adding eggs to your breakfast, you can prevent blood sugar from spiking—a root-cause of craving and hunger—helping you control your appetite for the rest of the day.

So if you are dealing with any weight loss issue, then eggs are an “eggcellent” choice 😉

  1. Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes are jam-packed with the antioxidant beta carotene—a vital nutrient for athletes in all fields, not just runners. These delicious vegetables are also loaded with Vitamin A. These two vital nutrients are critical for keeping eye health, preventing sun damage, and boosting immunity.

And if you are looking for a convenient pre-run meal, then look no further than sweet potatoes.

A cup of mashed sweet potato packs about 55 grams of carbohydrates, which will quickly provide energy for an hour of running.

In fact, mashed potatoes are also the ideal mid-long-run snack; just don’t forget to chase with water.

Furthermore, sweet potatoes are choke-full with Vitamin C, which can help you fight against oxidative stress and the free radicals released into the body by running.

  1. Blueberries

According to a 2008 study by the Cornell University, blueberries are in the top of the list of the antioxidant capabilities of 25 universally consumed fruits and berries. These delicious berries have the highest density of antioxidants per ounce of any other fruit or vegetable, According to study.

As a runner, you need as many as antioxidants as possible to fight against free radicals—which your body relentlessly produces through its metabolic processes.

What’s more? Blueberries are also rich in manganese, which is mineral implicated in converting carbs, protein, and fats into energy, so these berries can also boost your running performance.

Damn they are good.

  1. Kale

Low-grade inflammation caused by running-induced muscle damage can be a source of worry for many runners.

Nevertheless, making Kale a part of your diet can drastically reduce the risks of inflammation.

Plus, kale is also the best source for the vital vitamin K. In fact, one serving delivers about 700% of the daily recommended intake.

Why should you care?

Well, Vitamin K is essential for the orthotropic process—bone development and strengthening. In other words, kale will keep your bones healthy and humming—especially if you do too much intense running and worry about the health of your bones.

Let’s sweeten the deal even more.

Kale is also rich in Vitamin C. One serving has about 200% of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin C; this vitamin boosts immunity and can help you ward off infectious agents, like colds, and speed up muscle repair after a hard run.

Kale scores high in vitamins A, B6 C and K, as well as iron and calcium, and it’s one of the most antioxidant-rich vegetables you can eat.

Just wow!

  1. Spinach

Popeye’s favorite meal is not just a cartoon’s figment of the imagination. The gains in strength that come with spinach consumption have been scientifically proven.

According to research, Spinach contains nitrates, a compound that’s been shown to boost running performance by maximizing oxygen and nutrients delivery to the circulatory system and muscles.

According to the research, nitrates increase running speed and performance because they help speed up the transfer oxygen and nutrients to your circulatory systems and muscles

Plus, spinach also scores high on Vitamin K—essential for keeping healthy bones—and peptides, which is has been shown to lower blood pressure.

Also, spinach contains an extensive list of other important ingredients, like Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and iron.

  1. Wild Salmon

Another great source of protein for runners, in fact, wild salmon is one of the most nutrient-packed proteins.

After all, this fish is known as the king of fish because of its high-quality protein. A four-ounce serving of wild salmon packs about 30 grams of protein, which is huge.

Plus, wild salmon is crucial for promoting cardiovascular health since it scores high on selenium—an antioxidant—and other heart-boosting ingredients.

Furthermore, this excellent fish is rich on Omega-3’s, which can help reduce inflammation in the body after a workout along with a host of other health benefits, including the creation of more elastic blood vessels and enhance nervous system functioning.

And that’s not the whole story…

Wild salmon benefits can go beyond health and stretch out to the running field and athletic performance.

Fish oil supplementation can boost heart stroke volume— which is the amount of blood the heart pumps with every contraction—and cardiac output—the sum total of blood pumped by the heart—during low to moderate intensity exercise, according to a study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology.

That’s why this is so valuable for runners.

  1. Watercress

According to study, this leafy green tops the list of the nutrient-dense foods list. It’s without contest the perfect plant that makes kale and blueberries look like ordinary food.

In fact, the federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention dubbed this leafy green as the most nutrient-dense produce in its latest ranking of la crème de la crème of vegetables and fruits.

According to the new ranking of what it’s called “powerhouse fruits and vegetables,” the CDC states that this humble leafy green is the highest nutrient-dense produce item that’s out there.

Watercress is packed with antioxidants, Vitamin K and best of all, it scores low on calories so you can eat them as much as you like without worrying about weight gain.

  1. Walnuts

In my humble opinion, walnuts make for the best energizing snack on-the-go. Why? Well here are some reasons.

Walnuts are jam-packed with the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid ALA; this ingredient can reduce the type of inflammation that can wreak havoc on arteries, as well as reduce the breakdown of bones.

And if the high-fat content of these little nuts scared you away, then fret no more. Walnuts contain mainly the heart-healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats. According to study, walnuts can reduce LDL cholesterol levels—the bad cholesterol, which is vital for a healthy heart.

These plant-based nuts are also high in fiber, Vitamin B and antioxidants, such as vitamin E.

Walnut are so rich in nutrients, they could be dubbed nature’s nutritional supplement pill.


Here you have it.

Thank you for reading my list of the foods every runner should eat.

Please leave your suggestions, comments, and questions in the section below.

Have an awesome day

David D

Featured Image Credit – Arya Ziai through Flickr.

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David Dack



  1. These are some great suggestions….happen to love them all!