Variety, wholesomeness, and moderation are the three fundamental rules for a healthy diet—the key to running success. Following these rules will ensure that you eat a balanced diet that provides you with plenty of energy. In general, foods consumed in their natural state provide good nutritional value and contain few unhealthy ingredients. If you follow the first two rules, the third one usually follows—although allowing yourself a small treat now and then won’t affect your performance, and can even be a good motivational tool.
VITAMINS AND MINERALS
Vitamins and minerals are essential for healthy body function, and runners in particular need to consume sufficient quantities to ensure peak performance and avoid weakness, fatigue, and injury. A varied diet that encompasses the six key food groups opposite should provide most of the vitamins and minerals you need. The most important ones are listed in this table.
|CALCIUM||Helps build strong bones, regulate muscle contraction, and ensure that blood clots normally.||Milk, cheese, leafy green vegetables, soybeans, tofu, products containing fortified flour, fish bones (as in sardines)|
|IRON||Important in the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body.||Liver, lean red meat, beans, nuts, dried apricots, leafy green vegetables, brown rice.|
|VITAMIN D||Keeps bones and teeth healthy.||Sunshine is the best source. Food sources include oily fish, dairy produce, eggs, fortified breakfast cereals.|
|VITAMIN E||Maintains good cell structure by protecting cell membranes.||Nuts and seeds, wheatgerm, cereals, leafy green vegetables.|
Works together with vitamin B12 to form healthy red blood cells.
Helps reduce the risk of central nervous system defects.
|Broccoli, brussel sprouts, and other leafy green vegetables, asparagus, peas, liver, chickpeas, lentils, brown rice, citrus fruits.|
|POTASSIUM||Controls the balance of fluids in the body and helps lower blood pressure.||Bananas, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, fish, shellfish, beef, chicken, turkey, bread.|
|VITAMIN C||Maintains healthy cells. Necessary for the maintenance of healthy connective tissue.||Oranges and orange juice, strawberries, blackcurrants, broccoli, brussel sprouts, potatoes.|
|ZINC||Helps make new cells and enzymes. Processes carbohydrates, fat, and protein in food. Aids in the healing of wounds.||Meat, shellfish, milk and other dairy products, bread, wheatgerm.|
A HEALTHY DIET
The easiest path to healthy eating is to follow the guidance provided by this food pyramid, which illustrates the essential food groups and optimal servings. This will ensure that you consume the required intake of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other basic nutrients necessary for good health.
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