Runners tend to spend a lot of energy on watching what they eat, especially while training for a big race. Those runners that want to stay hydrated, reduce their recovery time, and generally enjoy a better performance should look at fruits.
Many of us should be eating more fruit but seem to be put off by how they are seen as a source of sugar.
That remains the case yet fruit tends to include antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and fiber, which are crucial components for performance.
In this guide, we will explain why fruit should be included in a runner’s diet and detail seven of the best ones to involve.
Why Fruit Is Important For A Runner
Keeping an eye on your blood sugar is important for anyone, whether they consider themselves a runner or not.
While fruit does contain sugar, this is in the form of fructose which acts as a naturally occurring sugar. Studies have shown that foods that contain fructose sugars typically do not cause a detrimental effect on an individual’s blood sugar.
You should still steer clear of those foods with added sugar like soda drinks, breakfast cereal, and candy so try replacing them with fruit either in slices or blitzed into a liquid.
Fruit is important for a runner as it provides sugar as a quick source of energy which is ideal for your working muscles.
As long as an individual remains active, if they are consuming fruit they should not suffer from unwelcome weight gain.
Certain fruits can be beneficial for a range of reasons; from recovery to gut health, brain power, and even weight loss. To enhance your performance, take a look at seven of the best fruits for runners.
For An Immediate Boost: Bananas
Anyone that has done an organized race should typically see tens, or even hundreds, of bananas.
Their health benefits are well-known to runners for how easy they are to snack on and how quickly they boost performance.
Bananas are full of healthy carbohydrates and potassium and can act as fuel during a race. Few fruits can top a banana for how well they can benefit a runner’s performance actually while they are running.
For Better Hydration: Cantaloupe
There are likely not many more pressing issues for runners than dehydration as it can quickly become detrimental to performance. Soon enough, your energy can feel like it has vanished and a long run can be rapidly curtailed.
Even just a 2% drop in body weight from dehydration can impair motor skills. Thankfully, cantaloupe can help and you can consume it in various forms.
From chunks of it in a salad to halves in a breakfast with some yogurt and granola to even wrapped slices in some delicious cured meats for an afternoon snack.
For Stronger Bones: Figs
You may believe that drinking dairy is the more preferred way to build up your bone strength. However, as a good source of calcium as well as vitamin K, figs are great for improving your bone strength.
The combination is also important as the vitamin K helps the bones cling to the calcium.
You can try some fried figs in cereal or even on top of a pizza while you can also make energy balls and bars from them for a great pre-run boost of energy.
Dried fruit is a great snack to include during a long race like a marathon or a half-marathon and figs can form a part of that. Maybe involve a mix with some other dried fruits such as currants or raisins.
For Losing Weight: Pears
If you need a more gradual improvement in your performance then look to lose some weight. Pears can help with that as studies have shown that those that eat pears are less likely to become overweight.
This is largely due to the impact that pears can have on an individual’s diet. Those that do eat pears benefit from less added sugar and more of those crucial nutrients like vitamin C, fiber, magnesium, and potassium.
Pears can be easily packed away as a snack to nibble on. You can also chop them up to add to yogurt and in oatmeal.
They even form a great component in salads to provide a fresh taste. For a treat, you can also include them as pies.
For Improved Sleep: Kiwis
A good night’s sleep is crucial to recovery and performance for any runner. Without one, it can prove hugely difficult to run to the best of your ability, even if you have followed a training plan to the absolute tee.
By prioritizing your sleep, you can quickly see improvements in your performance and that starts by eating the right food.
This is not just for the night before a race but the week before to ensure great rest going into a big performance.
Throw some kiwis into your diet and you should be able to reach the land of slumber easier. That’s down to the levels of serotonin involved in kiwis which is a brain compound known to regulate an individual’s sleep cycle.
More antioxidants like carotenoid can also help reach the recommended eight levels of sleep and eating kiwis can help.
Try chopping one up and adding dollops of Greek yogurt with some nuts as a late snack or add them to a fresh salsa to accompany fish or chicken for dinner.
For Quick Recovery: Cherries (In A Juice)
Some fruits are simply better delivered when blitzed and in liquid form. Try them in smoothies to create great tasting combinations yet tart cherries work best in juice form.
You may want to set aside the carton of orange juice to replace it with Montmorency tart cherries which can be great for recovery.
This is particularly important for women runners as studies found that drinking the Montmorency cherries dramatically aided recovery.
If you want reduced muscle soreness and improved muscle function such as jump height then try the cherry juice. The antioxidants included in the juice also look to reduce the inflammatory and immune stress you can see after a long run.
Studies have also shown that drinking cherry juice helps reduce the chances of upper respiratory tract infections.
Make sure that it is 100% tart cherry juice and you can drink a glass with breakfast or after a run with a smoothie.
For Increased Brain Power: Blueberries
Brain function also helps a runner’s performance and for that, you should look to sneak in some blueberries into your diet.
Not only will your memory function and ability to perform cognitive tasks improve, but blood flow to your muscles also should too.
The latter benefit is due to the flavonoid antioxidants that blueberries contain which are usually found in the berry’s skin.
Try to find the wild blueberries that are a little smaller as they should have more skin compared to flesh.
Get more of those compounds to aid your brain though you can also try them in frozen form instead of ice to blitz in a smoothie.
Sprinkle some into your breakfast cereal or oatmeal for a great start to the day. Blueberries are also great to have as snacks so grab a handful before you leave for your office and you can snack on them when you feel hungry.
There are also some ideal times to take certain fruits. For instance, avocados should be eaten ideally in the day or so before a long run to feel the most benefit.
For more immediate benefit just before you do start a run, consider a banana or an orange, even pomegranate seeds or pineapple slices can help too due to their vitamin C and B1 content.
Once you finish a run, nibble on some strawberries to help your recovery due to their manganese content though pineapples can also help.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which Fruit Is Best To Make You Run Faster?
If you want to simply run faster then you should try eating a banana before a run. Bananas are packed full of useful carbohydrates which the body can quickly digest into energy.
Try to drink some water while eating one and you should see a vast improvement in your focus, energy, speed, and also recovery time.
Try just the one banana as eating more than one can leave the digestive system feeling overwhelmed.
Are There Foods That Can Help An Individual Run For Longer?
Yes, in the days leading up to a race you should be looking to load up on carbohydrates to help you run for longer.
As well as being great for speed, bananas also help you run for longer. Try including some oats in your diet and whole-grain pasta can form the basis for a diet primed for endurance running.
Nibble on some dark chocolate and incorporate broccoli and peanut butter into your meals (hopefully not together) or as individual snacks and they should help too.