Due to the hard work they need to put in by attending high intensity workout sessions and practice sessions day in day out, runners have special nutritional needs. One food type that must be a part of a runner’s diet is nuts. Nuts are the best options among various calorie dense foods available on the market as they contain healthy fats. Read through the section below to know how nuts can benefit runners.
What you’ll learn in this article:
– Why runners should eat nuts
– The best nuts for runners to consume
– The benefits of different kinds of nuts to runners
– Some delicious ways to fit nuts into your diet
Why do nutritionists recommend nuts to runners?
Nuts not only act as rich sources of calories; they are also rich sources of hard-to-obtain nutrients which are not found in any refined food. Studies have shown that the daily diet of nut eaters have greater overall nutrient quality than those who don’t consume nuts. Nuts contain nutrients like manganese, copper, magnesium, and vitamin B. In addition, they also contain beneficial phytochemicals like resveratrol. All these compounds ensure that people who consume nuts are healthier.
Nuts protect human body against age-related diseases. According to the findings of a recent study, individuals, who consume peanut butter or nuts at least five times a week, lower their risk of suffering from diabetes and heart disease by over 20%. Another study suggests that consuming a handful of nuts with pretzel on a regular basis helps in maintaining a healthy weight.
Experts believe that when having nuts for recovering after a high endurance practice session one should also consume some carbs. While the healthy fats and protein present in nuts help in abating hunger and building muscles, the carbs do the vital job of re-fueling the muscles. Some great carb and nut combination for runners include banana and peanut butter, dried fruits and cashews, and oatmeal and almonds.
The protein content of nuts is not very high. For instance, two tablespoonful of peanut butter contain just 8 grams of protein. That’s nothing compared to the daily protein needs of active men and women. While active men must consume 80-120 grams of protein a day, active women should get 60-90 grams of protein from their daily diet. This makes it mandatory for vegetarian runners to consumer high quantity of peanut butter and nuts on a regular basis. Non-vegetarians, of course, can use nuts as secondary sources of protein (the primary sources being eggs, lean meat, and fish).
Nuts runners should consume on a regular basis
Walnuts are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids, nutrients that boast the ability to reduce inflammation through production of various anti-inflammatory compounds. This allows the body of runners to heal and recover faster after strenuous workout sessions. Walnuts have been found to work particularly well in reducing post-run muscle soreness.
Human body is not capable of producing omega-3 fats; this makes it extremely important that we get it from the foods we consume every day. The type of omega-3 fatty acids found in walnuts is called alpha-linolenic acid. Consuming 32 grams of walnuts every day would provide runners with around 91 percent of their daily omega-3 fatty acid requirement.
A runner must consume cashews on a regular basis for ensuring that he or she is taking enough magnesium. Just 100 grams of this nut contains as much as 82.5 milligram magnesium, which makes up around 21% of a runner’s daily magnesium requirement. Consuming magnesium is essential for preventing fatigue, soreness, muscle spasms, and high blood pressure. The mineral also has vital role to play in converting foods consumed into usable energy. We all know that runners need a lot of energy to practice hard and run faster, which makes it important that their daily diet includes magnesium is adequate quantity.
According to the findings of a study conducted in 2004, pecans are among the 15 best food sources of antioxidants. The said study ranked hundred different foods based on their antioxidant capacity. Another study revealed that the antioxidants found in pecans help in preventing LDL (bad cholesterol) buildup in arteries. Very few nuts are as rich in phytosterols as pecans. For those who don’t know, this nutrient plays a critical role in protecting human body against various cardiovascular conditions. Having a healthy heart is mandatory for runners, which makes consuming pecans essential for them.
Almonds are widely used as post-run or post-workout recovery snacks thanks to the high quantity of potassium, magnesium, and calcium they possess. This nut type is also a rich source of proteins. Here, it must be noted that consuming protein rich food items is extremely important after a run as protein helps in rebuilding the muscles that broke down during runs. Consuming a handful (around 32 grams) of these nuts would provide a runner with around 13 percent of his or her daily protein requirement.
A runner must make Brazil nuts a part of their daily diet as these nuts are rich natural sources of selenium. Human body need selenium for producing essential antioxidant enzymes called selenoproteins. Studies conducted over the years have shown that selenoproteins can offset cell damage caused by free radicals during high intensity training and endurance exercise.
No other nut is as rich in vitamin K and potassium as the pistachios. Potassium is a vital mineral for runners as it helps in keeping muscle tissues healthy. A runner must make sure that he or she doesn’t become deficient of potassium as that might cause severe fatigue, muscle weakness, and cramping. Consuming 100 grams of pistachios would provide runners with around 29% of their daily potassium requirement. The vitamin K in these nuts, on the other hand, helps runners in maintaining their bone health.
These nuts are rich sources of thiamine or vitamin B1. Thiamine is known to play a vital role in metabolizing carbohydrates into usable energy, a physiological process extremely important in the lives of runners.
Hazelnuts contain maximum concentration of folate or vitamin B9 among all nuts. This B vitamin has been found to reduce one’s chances of developing heart disease and depression, conditions that can cut a runner’s career short. Hazelnuts also contain moderate quantities of magnesium, calcium, and potassium, minerals that must be a part of a runner’s daily diet.
Nutritionists recommend chestnuts to runners primarily because they are excellent sources of copper, molybdenum, and manganese. The other essential nutrients runners can get from these nuts include magnesium and folic acid.
It’s true that as a result of being a member of the same family as peas and beans, peanuts are technically legumes. However, as most of us believe that they are nuts, we have decided to include them in this list. One of the main qualities of peanuts is that they have low glycemic index, which means they take a lot of time to be digested and thus help in maintaining a healthy blood sugar level. Resveratrol, a phytochemical found in peanuts, on the other hand, prevent cardiovascular conditions.
Which nuts are the best?
While all the nuts discussed above make great sports snacks, the benefits offered by them vary. So, asking, “Which are the best nuts?” is like trying to find out “Which are the best fruits?” You must take different nuts for enjoying different benefits. The quantity of healthy fibers present in almonds is slightly more than fibers present in cashews. Walnuts contain slightly more polyunsaturated fats compared to hazelnuts. Unlike peanuts, walnuts don’t contain resveratrol. In spite of all these differences, you cannot call one nut better than another. So, instead of trying to determine which one’s the best nut, a runner should simple buy and consumer different kinds of nuts for getting different nutrients and enjoying different health benefits and flavors.
Some interesting nut eating ideas for runners
You can have a handful of walnuts along with your breakfast. A good idea would be chopping the walnuts and adding them to your oatmeal, cereal, or yogurt. Adding half a tablespoon of honey would make the combination even tastier. You can add walnuts cut into small pieces to salads, vegetables, and casseroles. These nuts particularly taste great when added to chicken salad. Adding tiny pieces of walnuts to brownies and cookies is also recommended. You can have them even with desserts like pudding and ice cream. Walnuts can be used for enhancing the taste of smoothies and increasing their health benefits. When blending a smoothie, add ¼ cup of the nut to the blender along with the other ingredients.
You can use walnuts to prepare a dip that unlike the store-bought options offers a series of health benefits. The ingredients you will need for preparing the dip include, a cup of thinly sliced walnuts, a teaspoon of mustard, half cup low fat plain yogurt, two tablespoons of canola oil, and two peeled garlic cloves. Put all the ingredients into a food processor or blender and pulse until you get a smooth paste. This dip tastes great with vegetable sticks and grain crackers.
For maximum benefits, you should buy walnuts which possess unbroken shells that look heavy. Store your walnuts in a dry, airtight container and keep it in a cool, dark, and dry place.
Almonds are extremely tasty, so, you shouldn’t complain even if you need to consume almonds as they are. The best way of having almonds is by soaking a handful of the nuts in water at night and then consuming them in the morning. Dry, roasted almonds also enjoy significant popularity among runners, both for their taste and ease of preparation. Other than that, you can bake up your own muesli bars at home using dried fruits and almonds. Preparing pasta using pesto, vegetables, and roasted almond slivers can be a good idea too. Almond taste great even when served with noodles and chicken. Runners can also think of adding a handful of sliced almonds to their breakfast cereal (along with mild).
Cashews are filled with healthy fats and calories. You can get as much as 160 calories just by consuming around 18 cashews. Consume a handful of this nut within 30 minutes of your practice or workout session; this will help your body to recover faster. Depending on your preference, you can choose to have roasted or raw cashews.
Pistachios do taste great with salt; however, if you are a runner, you must consume them without salt. By not adding salt to pistachios you would help them remain reasonably wholesome. Pistachios can be consumed alone; however, make sure you roast them before munching. If you don’t roast, you might fail to get the actual flavor of the nut. They can even be consumed along with yogurt, cereals, and vegetable salad. Adding pistachios to muffin and bread recipe would also be a good idea.
Never forget to toast your pecans if you want to bring their full flavor out. They taste particularly great when added to cinnamon raisin oatmeal. Tossing some pecans into guacamole or salsa dip would be a good idea too. Add a handful of toasted pecans and half teaspoon of maple syrup to baked acorn squash if you are interested in trying something different. You can sprinkle some chopped pecan to mashed potatoes flavored with a pinch of nutmeg powder; the dish would make your lunch/dinner more nutritious.
Begin your day by consuming 35 grams of roasted peanuts along with a glassful of carrot or spinach juice. Your breakfast can consist of crackers, waffles, or whole grain toasts with a dollop of peanut butter. Peanut butter can also be enjoyed with apples. For lunch or dinner, cook some brown rice with scallions, parsley, red pepper, sesame oil, and chopped peanuts.
Consuming 100 grams of the nut would provide you with 328 calories. You can have hazelnuts both as snacks and as an ingredient of various dishes you have for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They taste particularly amazing when consumed with cereal and oatmeal.
Each ounce of macadamia nuts would provide you with 200 calories; so, as a runner, you must be careful about the portion size you are having. Like most other nuts, macadamia nuts can also be consumed both after roasting and in raw state. As the fat content of these nuts is extremely high, it’s imperative that you store them well. If not stored properly, macadamia nuts might turn rancid. Ideally, you should keep them in an airtight container and place the container in your refrigerator.
Do you include nuts in your diet because of the benefits to runners? How do you fit nuts into your diet?