Nutrition For Runners

If you are a runner your diet is vital  - not only for maintaining your health but also for ensuring that you can run faster or for longer depending on your goals.

Optimum nutrition and hydration levels are essential if you want to achieve peak performance and get the most from your running regime.

A balanced diet for runners should therefore include:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Lean protein
  • Healthy fats
  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Calcium
  • Iron


Foods rich in complex carbohydrates should make up around 60% of a runner’s diet, as they provide fuel and energy for your body. Whole grain breads and pasta, potatoes and brown rice are all excellent sources of carbohydrate rich food and will keep you feeling fuller for longer whilst also giving you the energy to run.


Protein is another essential part of your diet and should make up around 15 -20% of your diet. Protein is an essential nutrient that promotes tissue repair and gives energy – both vital for runners. What’s more protein helps you to feel full and helps to prevent overeating of the wrong kind of foods.

Stick to sources of protein that are low in fat such as lean cuts of meat, fish, low fat dairy products and beans or legumes if you are vegetarian. These will provide your body with protein without adding excess fat to the diet.

Healthy fats

A diet that is high in the wrong kind of fats will lead to weight gain so it is important to understand which fats are good for you. Fats are an important part of your diet and should not be totally avoided. Healthy fats include those that are rich in Omega 3 such as nuts, seeds, avocadoes and oily fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines.

Fruit and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables provide the body with essential vitamins and minerals and help us to stay healthy. What’s more they are low in calories and an excellent source of dietary fibre, which helps to maintain gut health. Aim to eat 5 or more portions of fruit and veg per day for optimum health and to enhance your running programme.


Calcium is essential for building strong bones and maintaining bone health. For runners calcium is essential for preventing stress fractures and osteoporosis. You can get your calcium intake from low fat dairy produce, juices that have been fortified with calcium, eggs, beans and dark, leafy green vegetables.


Iron helps in the delivery of oxygen to your body’s cells so it is essential if you are a runner to get an adequate intake. A lack of iron in the body can cause fatigue, weakness and breathlessness. Good sources of iron include lean cuts of beef and pork, scallops and prawns, dark, leafy green vegetables and nuts.