Diet for Athletes (Runners)

As a runner, your diet is an important element to help you maintain a good health and to stay fit. A diet with all the essential elements will help you to work hard and reach your goal. Learn more…

A balanced diet for healthy runners should include these essentials: carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Here are some basic guidelines for a nutritious and a healthy balanced diet.

Essential Nutrients Necessary for Athletes

Given below are some very essential nutrients that athletes (runners) require because of their tremendous physical exertion. These are:


Carbohydrates are the best source of energy. So, an athlete’ss calorie intake must consist 60-65% of carbohydrates. Quick and long lasting energy is provided only by carbohydrates. Foods that are rich in carbohydrates are boiled/steamed rice, whole grain pasta, potatoes, fruits and whole grain breads.


Protein is very effective in repairing tissues and giving some energy. Therefore, athletes – especially runners, should take 15 to 20% of protein in a day. But, always remember that you should have protein that is low in fat. Foods that are rich in protein are fish, lean meat/poultry, skimmed milk, beans etc.


Only essential fats like Omega3 are helpful for athletes (runners). Foods like cold water fish, nuts, extra virgin olive oil etc will provide Omega3 to your body.


Exercise generates certain compounds called free radicals, which can damage your cells. Vitamins C, E, and A are antioxidants and neutralize these free radicals. Thus, vitamins are also essential for your health.


There are a number of minerals that are very helpful for an athlete’ss health. These are:


Athletes are prone to injuries and thus osteoporosis, stress and fractures are common among them. A diet that is rich in calcium is very helpful for them. Foods that are rich in calcium are skimmed milk/ milk products, green/dark leafy vegetables, eggs and beans.


Deficiency of iron leads to fatigue and disability to perform for a longer period of time. Iron produces oxygen to your cells. Foods that are rich in iron are lean meats, leafy green vegetables, shrimp, nuts etc.

Sodium and other electrolytes:

A small amount of sodium is also required for an athlete. A balanced diet and sports drinks/energy drinks will do the job for you.

Dietary Habits for Athletes

The above mentioned nutrients are essential elements that should be included in your diet if you are an athlete or a runner. But there are some other important dietary habits that you need to follow in order to maintain a good health and body. These are:

Eat Regularly

Do not try to go on any kind of a fast and stop the intake of food. Eat a required amount of food every day.

Choose your Snacks

Always try to go for those snacks which are more than just calories. Eat more of vegetarian and low fat/oil snacks. Go for dry fruits, nuts etc.

Get Extra Food Energy

Try to get extra food energy from the food you eat. Foods like starchy vegetables, whole grain bread, rice, cereal etc will provide you extra energy.

Check your Diet Once a Week

Check your diet at least once a week. Ensure that you are eating the right food in the right quantity at the right time. If necessary, consult a dietitian. This will help you to keep a track of your food and your health in the long run.