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This Is the Best Diet for Long-distance Runners, Expert Says

Before lacing up, it's key to know the best long-distance runner's diet that'll boost your performance.

If you're a long-distance runner, it's safe to say you have a zest for pounding the pavement and going strong for miles. But before you lace up your sneakers and get in those strides, it's crucial to know the food choices that will enhance your absolute finest performance. We have some expert input on the matter, so read on to learn about the best diet for long-distance runners. And next up, don't miss The 6 Best Exercises for Strong and Toned Arms in 2022, Trainer Says.

Runners need their energy, so making the right food choices is a must

fit female runner demonstrating the best diet for long-distance runners

We chatted with Melissa Pfeister, founder of the health and wellness brand Stripped with Melissa and a member of the ETNT Medical Expert Board, who explains, "Food is the most crucial element to getting the energy we need." It's important that your food choices are the right ones, though. Following the wrong diet and eating bad food items will not provide you with the energy you need to optimize your performance and help you achieve your workout goals.

So without further delay, let's get into what Pfeister has to say about the best diet for long-distance runners.

Related: These Are the Best Foods for Running Stamina, Says Dietitian

Lean protein should be a #1 choice for long-distance runners

grilled chicken, lean protein part of the best diet for long-distance runners

Pfeister tells us that lean protein is crucial. It's truly a number one choice for long-distance running. She says, "Protein is so beneficial for many reasons; it supplies the amino acids your body needs to build and repair your muscles."

Excellent sources of proteins include lean pork and beef, turkey and chicken, eggs, low-fat dairy items, nuts, and beans.

Related: The Beginner's Guide To Training For Long-Distance Running

Greek yogurt is a "rockstar" for runners

greek yogurt

Another food item that's an amazing choice is Greek yogurt. In fact, Pfeister calls it a "rockstar" for runners! She explains, "Not only does it supply you with protein for your muscles and carbs for energy, but it also provides an amazing amount of essential vitamins and minerals and [is] easy to digest."

The best part about yogurt is the fact that it's portable. It's so easy to put it in a container along with some other goodness like fresh fruit—specifically, berries, which are another winning item for runners!—and granola. Pfeister adds, "Out the door you go, all while enjoying a quick and easy meal before or post-run!"

Don't forget your carbs

whole grain pasta

Carbs are really important to eat as well—especially if you're running for one to three hours on any given day. When you're training vigorously, the majority of your diet should consist of carbs. Mayo Clinic recommends 2.7 to 4. 5 g of carbs for each pound you weigh, every day. That being said, a runner who weighs 135 pounds should consume between 365 and 670 grams of carbs every day—and we're not just referring to any carbs, they should be "high-quality." Examples include pasta, rice, cereals, and whole-grain bread, in addition to fruit, starchy vegetables, low-fat yogurt, and low-fat milk.

Healthy fats are also an integral part of a runner's diet. Examples of good healthy fat choices are avocado, seeds, nuts, nut butter, and olive oil.

Alexa Mellardo
Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa