From a health and nutritional view point as a runner, our aim is to ensure we are fuelling our bodies appropriately to maintain our performance throughout the run….but also to support efficient recovery afterwards.
What we eat beforehand may also help reduce the risk of cramping and injury during or following our run.
In this episode we will discuss 4 foods to support your Pre-training fuelling.
We will outline the nutritional properties of each and consider how they may be added as part of your meal plan with some menu ideas.
The 4 foods we’ll be discussing today are
- Maple Syrup
Finally we’ll share a 1-day menu plan using these 4 foods.
Discover Aileen and Karen’s “Go To” Pre-Running Meals and Snacks
Maple Syrup is a great vegan alternative to honey, which can be used in exactly the same way pre-training. The reason we are recommending it here is for its Carbohydrate content in the form of simple sugar, which is required for immediate energy. To let you see how beneficial this food could be for pre-training (endurance running lasting more than 90mins)100g of maple syrup contains 67.1g of CHO of which 59.5g is sugar…mostly glucose. Now as glucose is the raw material required for producing energy its uptake and utilisation is going to be far more rapid than if it was oats for example, which would need to be metabolised and broken down into glucose, which is going to take time.
Maple syrup could be an excellent food choice if there is very little time between eating and running. However if someone was leaving at least an hour between eating and running then a slower release CHO choice would be more beneficial….like the oats mentioned.
Eggs are a “complete protein” food, in that they contain ALL 9 essential Amino Acids (AA’s) , which the body cannot produce. It is the egg’s protein content we are considering here. As runners we need protein for building lean muscle as well as muscle repair and recovery. Protein is also important for maintaining soft tissue strength and suppleness, again helping reduce the risk of injury. The Branch Chain Amino Accids (BCAA’s Leucine, Iso-leucine and Valine) are the principle AA’s for muscle protein synthesis (MPS) and as eggs are a complete protein, they contain these AA’s. From a practical point of view eggs are fast to cook and for most people easy to digest which again is important for pre run timing.
Flaxseed is known to be a potent anti-inflammatory food due to its Omega-3 Fatty Acid content, in fact it is one of the principle foods for vegans and vegetarians as a source of Omega 3’s.
Exercise, especially endurance exercise (or high impact exercise) is known to be pro-inflammatory, therefore it is important to try and counteract this by eating foods that could diminish or limit the pro-inflammatory effects. Inflammation, if not addressed could increase a runner’s risk of injury but also illness, especially URTI and UTIs, which are common complaints in runners, especially in distance runners.
The Omega-3 content of flaxseeds are in the form of Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) rather than the DHA and EPA form found in oily fish. The forms found in oily fish are highly bioavailable to the body, however ALA requires converting into DHA and EPA.
This process requires an enzyme, which, in some people, is less available. Also, it depends on certain nutrients being present so nutrient deficiencies could limit the conversion too.
So, although flaxseed oil contains twice the amount of Omega-3 as fish oil, its anti-inflammatory benefits are generally less potent due to potential limitations on the bioavailability of DHA and EPA. However, for vegetarians and vegans flaxseed is an important source of Omega-3 PLUS it contains several other nutritional properties important for good health.
Avocado - The reason we have chosen avocado is for its natural levels of potassium. ½ an avocado contains 680mg of potassium which is significant when you think that the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for potassium is between 1.9g and 5.6g.
Potassium is an important electrolyte that can become diminished in distance runners or when running in intense heat or in runners with a high sweat rate if not replaced sufficiently.
A recap on the Nutritional Properties of each food we have discussed
The principle Nutritional property of Maple Syrup in supporting a runner pre-training is its CHO content. Specifically, its simple sugar content, which is predominantly in the form of glucose so a great source of quick to access energy.
The principle Nutritional property of Eggs to support a runner pre-training is the PROTEIN content. Adequate intake of the essential amino acids, especially the BCAAs could reduce the risk of injury and also support muscle recovery and repair as well as MPS.
The principle Nutritional property of Flaxseed to support a runner pre-training is the Omega 3 FAs content. Omega-3 is a potent anti-inflammatory nutrient so could help reduce the risk of injury and illness, both of which are common in runners.
The principle Nutritional property of Avocado in supporting a runner pre-training is potassium. Potassium has many functions in the body including glycogen storage and is one of the electrolytes that is known to be lost in sweat. Low potassium levels are known to lead to significant symptoms if not addressed.
(22:13) Ideas on how to use these 4 ingredients in your food plan
Food ideas for Maple Syrup: banana and maple smoothie, Greek yogurt with maple and seeds
Food ideas for eggs: Huevos Rancheros, Boiled eggs on oatcakes with wholegrain mustard
Food ideas for flaxseed: mixed salad with flax oil, fruit and flax smoothie
Food ideas for avocado: oatcakes with banana and avocado, guacamole with crudités
Check out our 1-day Menu Plan Suggestions using the 4 foods spotlighted today
Maple Syrup’s key nutrients is Carbohydrate, Maple syrup is good for providing quick release sugars ideal for promoting energy ahead of run training.
Eggs key nutrient is Protein good for building lean muscle, as well as muscle repair and recovery and is also important for maintaining soft tissue strength, suppleness, and helping reduce the risk of injury when running.
Flaxseed– key nutrients is Omega 3 Fatty Acids which are anti-inflammatory and may support reducing the risk of injury and illness common in runners.
Avocado – key nutrient is Potassium supporting electrolyte balance and good for promoting glycogen storage important for energy production.
The suggestions we make during this episode are for guidance and
advice only, and are not a substitute for medical advice or treatment.
If you have any concerns regarding your health, please contact
your healthcare professional for advice as soon as possible.
Aileen Smith and Karen Campbell met at as nutrition students (Institute for Optimum Nutrition, London) and became lifelong friends and nutritional buddies! Both have a love of running and a passion for nutrition, delicious food and healthy living.
Together they host RUNNERS HEALTH HUB. A place for like-minded runners who are looking for simple ways to support running performance, energy, endurance, and general great health.
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