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What Should an Athlete Running Track Eat & Drink?

by
author image Sylvia Cochran
Based in the Los Angeles area, Sylvia Cochran is a seasoned freelance writer focusing on home and garden, travel and parenting articles. Her work has appeared in "Families Online Magazine" and assorted print and Internet publications.
What Should an Athlete Running Track Eat & Drink?
Healthy nutrition is a lifestyle choice for an athlete. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Overview

Healthy nutrition is a lifestyle choice for an athlete. Proper nutrition is important throughout the training cycle. It is not possible to make up for daily unhealthy food choices the week or night before a major track meet. Instead, seasoned and professional runners carefully build a balanced meal plan that accounts for healthy proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Hydration choices are also important factors in the overall meal planning.

Seafood and Chicken

What Should an Athlete Running Track Eat & Drink?
Salmon is a healthy main course choice for the protein and omega-3 fatty acids it contains Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

Salmon is a healthy main course choice for the protein and omega-3 fatty acids it contains. Health benefits of these fats include balancing the body’s inflammatory response, which helps counteract running-induced asthma attacks. Because of the danger of mercury contamination, athletes should choose wild caught fish for extra safety.

A 4-oz. serving of chicken can fulfill as much as half of a runner’s daily protein requirement, which exceeds that of non-runner’s by 50 percent to 75 percent. This protein assists with rebuilding muscles and also a speedy recovery after a particularly strenuous workout or event.

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Whole Grains

What Should an Athlete Running Track Eat & Drink?
A runner needs to ingest at least “three to six one-ounce servings” of these grains each day. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

"Runner’s World" says a runner needs to ingest at least “three to six one-ounce servings” of these grains each day. Keep an eye open for the 100 percent whole-grain notation, which differentiates the product from one that might contain refined flour in addition to whole grain. Remember that this kind of food is a lot denser than refined flour products, and it might take time for taste buds to adjust. Whole-grain products help runners with weight and blood sugar level control.

Hydration and Sports Drinks

What Should an Athlete Running Track Eat & Drink?
As a general rule of thumb, drink a few cups of cool water 10 to 15 minutes before starting the track workout. Photo Credit Berc/iStock/Getty Images

Before the run, fluid intake needs depend on weather conditions. As a general rule of thumb, drink a few cups of cool water 10 to 15 minutes before starting the track workout.

Opt for sports drinks right after a run. These beverages contain sodium, electrolytes and carbohydrates, which assist the body in replenishing these substances that are lost with sweat.

When used during the run—as might be the case for a track runner training for a marathon—as little as a half-cup of sports drink every 15 minutes can potentially help with the energy required to finish strong. Keep a close eye on the carbohydrate solution of the drink; depending on a runner’s individual metabolism, the sweet spot lies somewhere between a 4 percent and an 8 percent solution.

Nutritional Supplements

Athletes ideally derive all the required vitamins and minerals from a balanced meal plan. The University of Illinois Extension agrees that female athletes might—at their physician's suggestion—supplement with iron, but overall the danger of long-term vitamin supplement overuse outweighs the benefits. Only a physician or nutritionist can evaluate an individual athlete’s need for supplementation and make a recommendation.

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References

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