For all runners, a diet is vitally important. The food you eat as a runner serves as fuel that plays a major role in your energy while you are running and your performance as a runner. Whether you are an avid, competitive runner or you just prefer running around your neighbourhood for fun, you should know the right foods and supplements to eat, and when to eat them. Nutrition options like plant protein can make a huge difference to you as a runner. 

This blog deep dives into the right clean, plant-based nutrition for runners and how the right nutrition can enhance your performance and help you experience better runs than ever. 

How nutrition for runners differs from others 

If you are a runner or want to feed a runner, understand the basics of runners’ nutrition before you begin to grocery shop and prep. 

There are three primary macronutrients important for an overall diet, and they each play a key role in your muscle recovery and how they function during the run. They are – carbohydrates, protein and fat. 

  1. Carbohydrates – Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the body and are crucial for long-distance running. When you consume carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into sugar glucose. The body needs glucose to produce adenosine triphosphate, which is the energy currency. During a run, your body sends glucose to the muscle cells as an immediate source of energy. If your body has additional glucose, it is sent to the liver and muscle to use as glycogen. Your body pulls glucose from the blood during a run to power muscles. If your glucose levels dip, the body converts stored glycogen back to glucose. Your body’s access to oxygen supply decreases during high-intensity exercise, so your body depends on carbohydrates to get the oxygen to keep going. For intense sprints, your body uses carbohydrates as the primary fuel source. As a runner, your diet should consist of 45-65% daily carbohydrates. Sports beverages also contain glucose sources. Complex carbs: Pasta, bread, pretzels, cereals and dairy. Simple sugars: Fruit, sports drinks, goos and gels.
  2. Fats – Stored body fat serves as the best fuel source for long-distance lower-intensity runs longer than 10km. Get 20-30% of your daily calories from unsaturated fats. Your body breaks down fats into triglycerides, which then break down into glucose. This process is called fat oxidation. Do not depend on fats to be the primary fuel source for high-intensity runs, as it takes time to generate. Depend on carbohydrates for that. However, consume fats as part of a balanced diet to support healthy joints, healthy nerves and general health as a runner. Eat a mix of fats: saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated. Find saturated fats in butter and coconut oil, polyunsaturated fats in seeds and avocado and monounsaturated fats in olive oil, avocados and some nuts.
  3. Protein – Unlike fats and carbohydrates, protein is not a primary fuel source during runs. Its effects are much more long-term and long-lasting. The body uses protein to support muscle growth and regrowth, tissue repair, injury prevention, faster muscle recovery, and production of oxygen-carrying red blood cells. If you consistently run, your muscles break down and need to rebuild efficiently. Muscle breakdown can lead to muscle wasting, more injuries, and bad performance. Consume around 1.4-2.0 grams of protein per kg per day. So if you weigh 60 kgs, you will need to consume 84 grams of protein as a runner every day. For your protein requirements, plant protein may be a better idea. Consume your protein around 20 minutes post your run. Sources of plant protein: Quinoa, soy, barley, protein powder (such as plant protein powder). 

Some general tips for nutrition for runners 

  1. As a runner, especially if you are training for a performance, you tend to feel hungry more as running increases your appetite. This feeling is called “runger”. Fight it by spacing out your food into five smaller portions to help your body maintain steady blood sugar. 
  2. Keep healthy snacks on hand such as a handful of nuts, apples and bananas 
  3. Try and try again to figure out the “ideal diet” for a runner. 
  4. While each athlete has different needs, here are the most important micronutrients you also need to consume. Calcium, Vitamin D, Iron, Antioxidants, 

How Plant Protein Impacts your runs and performance 

Some people make the mistake of thinking that plant protein is just for bodybuilders and weightlifters. In fact, plant protein can be a huge part of a well-rounded post-workout recovery strategy for runners, including ultra-marathon runners.

As a vegetarian or a vegan runner, be assured that plant protein is just as important and effective a source of protein for you as animal-based protein. Even if you are not a vegetarian or vegan, you might prefer plant protein for its many benefits for runners: 

  1. Pea protein, for example, contains all nine essential amino acids (some of which cannot be made naturally by the body). These amino acids control the following factors in runners’ bodies – fat metabolism, immune function, muscle growth and regeneration, appetite, sleep, mood, wound healing, energy function and sleep-wake cycles. Plant protein in general is also rich in iron, which is very important for runners to produce enough oxygen 
  2. Hemp protein, as another example, is much easier to digest as a plant protein than other protein powders. It also has plenty of fibre, minerals and saturated fats to use as fuel sources. 

Whether you are a casual runner, endurance athlete or triathlete, plant protein is the perfect choice for you. Now check out the power of complete plant protein below. 

Bioactive Plant Protein 

OZiva Bioactive Plant Protein contains 25g of plant protein per serving, drawn from high protein foods like Pea Protein, Mung Bean and Brown Rice. Plant protein contains several amino acids that are essential to signal muscle growth/repair and act as a substrate during muscle protein synthesis. Pea protein is able to promote better muscle growth and rice protein is associated with increased power, strength and body mass.

This bioactive plant protein contains an Advanced Recovery Formula which is a combination of MD-ZenPro, and Ashwagandha. MD-ZenPro is a blend of a clinically proven active, which includes Curcumin, Green Coffee and Protease (a digestive enzyme). This bioactive ingredient Gremin in this vegan protein contributes towards 4X Muscle Recovery* from muscle damage and pain. Protease also helps in 59% Faster Protein Absorption^ due to improved protein hydrolysis to amino acids.

Ashwagandha helps the body to adapt to stress and thus assist recovery. It speeds up muscle growth, relieves pain and improves athletic performance.

Final Notes

This plant protein for runners makes use of bioactive ingredients for optimal muscle health, better endurance, muscle recovery, and for better sleep. This plant protein improves athletic performance due to the presence of 100% RDA of vitamins and minerals. Vitamin D helps in growth and muscle maintenance, Vitamin B12 improves muscle growth and coordination. Iron is critical for optimal athletic performance and endurance because of its role in energy metabolism, oxygen transport and acid-base balance.

*Protein digestibility^ and recovery claims* based on scientific study & clinical study respectively on active ingredients published* in the Journal of Food Technology & Nutrition Sciences.

Read more on Bioactive Plant protein here.

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