When you’re running for weight loss, putting one foot in front of the other is only half of the equation. And when we say “half,” we really mean more like one-fourth. Maybe one-third.
That’s because while running certainly burns calories and the right running program can also build muscle to help you increase your metabolism, the calories that you consume still matter, says registered dietitian nutritionist Jessica Crandall, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a Denver-based runner. “Many runners overestimate how many calories they burn during their workouts, and end up over-fueling as a result, which leads to weight gain, not loss,” she says.
Meanwhile, how you get those calories (aka: what foods you eat) determines exactly how much fat you burn during every run, how your muscles recover, if your metabolism gets a boost from your workout and, ultimately, what you get out of your entire running routine.
So, if you’re running to lose weight, add these eight foods to your fueling plan:
These little powerhouse, orbs of energy are a runner’s best friend. That’s because, not only are they rich in protein, they are rich in the most bio-available protein known to man. That means that your body can absorb and use the protein contained in eggs more easily than it can protein from any other source, says Crandall, noting that this is doubly great because anyone trying to lose more weight needs more protein at breakfast.
A 2015 review published in “Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism”, concluded that Americans need to stop getting all of their protein at dinnertime, and instead space it out throughout the day in order to lose weight. Protein aside, eggs are also rich in energizing B vitamins and free radical-fighting antioxidants. Plus, the bulk of fat contained in eggs is actually of the unsaturated variety.
2. Full-Fat Greek Yogurt
There are so many reasons that full-fat Greek yogurt makes this list. It’s rich in filling fat, whole carbohydrates and protein, all of which your body needs to recover from your running workouts, Matheny says. “Protein is especially important as every run breaks down and slightly damages your muscle fibers. Protein is what helps them build back up and by increasing muscle synthesis, increases your metabolic rate,” he says. Before bed is another great time to dig into a bowl of yogurt, as Greek yogurt is rich in casein, a type of slow-to-digest protein that can keep your muscles fed and building all night long.
Apart from the fact that nuts are packed with both protein, fiber and unsaturated fat–and linked to lower levels of inflammation, improved weight loss and a longer life–nuts are awesome for runners because you can eat them on the go, wherever, whenever, Crandall says. Remember, though: No matter how awesome nuts are, they are rich in calories. So aim for eating one handful of nuts per day. Any kind will do the trick.
Move over, bananas. One cup of sliced avocados contains almost twice as much potassium as does a whole banana. Potassium, an important electrolyte that helps you run harder and longer, is lost through your sweat, so it’s important to refuel after your runs.