Whether this is your first or tenth marathon, you know that training isn’t easy. You may be experiencing an extra level of soreness, fatigue, lethargy, or a negative trend in your training performance. Sometimes you need an extra boost to get you over these hurdles.
Did you know that nutrition plays an integral role in your training regimen? Read as Jeff Lucchino, MS, RD, CSSD, Director of Sports Nutrition for UPMC Sports Medicine, explains his top 3 underutilized performance foods for marathoners to help you to stay on track and make the most out of your marathon training.
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1. Tart Cherry Juice
Tart cherry juice has steadily evolved in the past five years. This juice packs some good carbohydrates and electrolytes like potassium. Another benefit is that it’s packed with anthocyanins.
Anthocyanins are a pigment found in these cherries that give them their bright purple color. The performance benefit of these pigments is how effective they are at reducing inflammation that many runners experience throughout training.
Be sure to drink one, 8-ounce glass of tart cherry juice a day to help deal with inflammation, as well as replenish those carbohydrates and electrolytes.
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Another food that can help when preparing for a marathon is dates. While they are more common than tart cherry juice, they are often overlooked as a performance food. Just two dates contain over 30g of carbohydrates, which is quite a lot of energy.
Dates aren’t only packed with energy. They’re high in fiber, antioxidants, magnesium, and B vitamins. Dates are versatile when it comes to incorporating them in food and drinks. They can be used in smoothies, oatmeal, desserts, or just eaten by themselves.
Quinoa is another source of powerful nutrition, yet it’s not talked about much when discussing an athlete’s nutrition plan.
Quinoa is a gluten-free seed that can be a great substitute for typical carbohydrates, such as pasta. In addition to being a great source of carbohydrates, quinoa is a complete protein that contains all nine essential amino acids. That’s one of the main reasons why quinoa is an outstanding addition to your daily nutrition plan. Altogether, it provides carbohydrates, fiber, and protein, and is a good source of fiber and B vitamins.
Consider giving some of these foods a try after your next run to experience all of the benefits they can have.
To make an appointment with Sports Nutrition at UPMC Sports Medicine, please call 724-720-3081.
To learn more, visit UPMC.com/SportsNutrition.
About Sports Medicine
Sports and physical activity bring with them a potential for injury. If you are looking to prevent, treat, or rehabilitate a sports injury – or improve athletic performance – UPMC Sports Medicine and the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program can help. We serve athletes and active people of all ages and experience levels. Our experts partner with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers, and about 100 other high school, college, and regional teams and events throughout Pennsylvania – working daily to build better athletes.