Carbohydrates are a runner’s best friend.
The macronutrient is the body’s preferred source of energy.
In today’s article, I’m sharing some of the best carb-rich, energy-sustaining foods to keep your body running on premium fuel.
Some work best during and after running, while others are fantastic choices for regular meals and snacks.
Let’s get started.
One cup of Brown Rice – 45 grams of carbs
Brown rice, or cereal grain, is one of the healthiest sources of carbs.
It has lots of nutrients. Brown rice might be healthier than refined grains, such as white rice since it contains more protein, fibers, and vitamins.
Since brown rice is low on the glycemic index, it’s broken down more slowly, which helps provide lasting fuel as well as promote less fat storage.
One large banana – Roughly 30 grams of carbs.
If you find yourself often getting tired or lagging as you reach the end of your run, eating a banana before a run—or while running—can help.
Bananas are rich in potassium, a key electrolyte lost in droves while running. This electrolyte helps ensure that nutrients and fluids are moving through your body, preventing muscle spasms and delaying fatigue.
For the ideal post-run snack, have a banana with some protein, such as peanut butter to help speed up repair and recovery.
Planning to run longer than 90 minutes?
Then pack a handful of dried fruits, such as dates, dried apples, or raisin, to chew on as an alternative to gels or sports drinks. But please avoid the crispy and the fried ones.
Dried fruits are the ideal on-the-go source of energy since they’re quickly absorbed and can help restore your fuel stores.
Looking for the ideal post-run recovery option? Look no further than chocolate milk.
The stuff scores low on the glycemic index but will help you replenish fast and get the fuel back into your muscles after a hard run.
Thanks to its nearly perfect balance of carbs, protein, chocolate milk provides runners extra benefits in terms of recovery after training, making it the perfect post-run drink.
One sweet potato = 26 grams of carbohydrates.
If you’re looking for a quick source of carbs, sweet potatoes are both easy to throw together and full of healthy carbs.
Sweet potatoes are also rich in minerals and vitamins such as beta-carotene and vitamins C and E—all of which aid your immune system.
You can simply pop one into the microwave, add some salt, and there you have a fuel-dense healthy snack. You can also add the stuff to snacks like cookies or muffins, turning them into healthier treats.
Whole Wheat Pasta
One cup of whole wheat spaghetti = 37 grams of carbohydrates.
Whole wheat pasta, just like rice and other grains, is healthier than its white counterparts because of its natural, unbleached nutrition profile.
The stuff provides more nutrients, boasts longer-lasting energy, and contributes to less fat storage than regular pasta.
For a better nutrition profile, serve pasta with lean protein such as chicken as well as vegetables—your choice.
Low-fat yogurt – 12 grams of carbs
Yogurt is a fantastic carb option because it contains lactose—a type of natural sugars found in dairy products.
It’s also an awesome post-run choice, thanks to the high glycemic index.
Just be careful. Most yogurts in the market, even those with added fruits, pack in lots of added sugar, which can be less than healthy.
Read the ingredient list and choose brands with the least—or no—added sugar. Unsweetened plain Greek yogurt and Skyr are the best options.
One cup of oatmeal = 30 grams of carbohydrates.
A favorite pre-run breakfast choice, oatmeal is both easy to make and provides a ton of easily digestible carbs.
This is a fantastic source of carbs for runners and is high in fiber, which can help you feel fuller, longer.
The stuff is rich in complex carbs, but the sugar absorption is slowed by fiber.
Whole Grains Bread
If bread is a staple in your diet, go for the whole-grain variety.
It’s a better choice since it has more fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Whole-grain bread also has a lower glycemic index, which helps provide longer-lasting energy.
, just like yogurt, most whole-grain bread has added sugar, so choose brands with the least—or no—added sugar.
Apples are one of my favorite fruits in the world, thanks to their sweet flavor and unique crunchy texture.
The fruit also provides a host of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, antioxidants, and healthy plant compounds.
Apples do not spoil as fast as other fruits, such as bananas, so you can actually buy a big pile and store them in the fridge.
Thanks to the great mix of carbs, potassium, and fluid, watermelon is one of the best fruits for runners.
Watermelon has few calories and is a fantastic choice for two key plant compounds – lycopene and citrulline.
You can enjoy watermelon by itself or add watermelon into salads, smoothies, or juice—many options and guilty free.
Adding Carb-Rich Foods to Your Diet
To get the most out of these healthy sources of carbs, I’d recommend that you mix and match as many of these choices—the more varied, the better. So you don’t need to worry about deficiencies or having too many calories.