For runners, getting the right nutrients and enough calories on a vegetarian diet can sometimes be a worry. However, with the right food choices and enough variety, a vegetarian diet can be a healthy option for runners. Nutritional advisor Charlotte Dorman recommends four foods runners should target when going meat-free to ensure a high-fuel diet, rich in nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
Eggs are one of nature’s most perfect foods and a wonderful source of easily accessible, high-quality protein. After a workout. your tired muscles need a combination of protein and carbohydrate to restore glycogen stores and provide the building blocks to aid muscle recovery. Try scrambled or poached eggs with Nairn’s oatcakes for a light recovery snack.
Another great source of protein are legumes (also known as pulses): including beans, lentils, chickpeas and soy. They are important due to their plant protein and amino acid content, for example they have three times the protein content of rice! They contain only around 1% fat (soy and peanuts are the exception) and can also provide iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, calcium, selenium and B vitamins.
Chia seeds have been used by humans since at least 3500 BC. The Aztecs relied on chia to help keep their civilisation healthy. Chia seeds are loaded with protein and contain all eight essential amino acids the body needs to fully utilise its protein. They are also packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fibre and the nourishing omega 3 fatty acid called alpha-linoleic acid. Add to porridge, yogurt, protein powder drinks, smoothies, juices or salads.
Quinoa is higher in lysine than wheat, which is an amino acid that is scarce within the plant kingdom. It has a lower sodium content and is higher in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese and zinc than wheat and barley or corn. Plus it is especially high in iron (more than any other cereal grain), with a decent amount of fibre too. Use quinoa in place of rice, as a base for stir-fries or veggie casseroles and add to salads and breakfast cereals – the possibilities are endless!
Charlotte Dorman’s top tip:
“No single fruit or vegetable provides all of the nutrients you need to be healthy. Eat a variety of types and colours of produce in order to give your body the mix of nutrients it needs. Try dark leafy greens, brightly coloured red, yellow and orange vegetables and cooked tomatoes. To boost my vegetable intake when I’m in a hurry I love the Amy’s Kitchen meals and soups. They use a variety of organic vegetables and all natural ingredients. My favourites are the Gluten Free Vegetable Lasagne, or the Hearty Spanish Rice and Red Bean Soup.”