As a runner, you know that what you eat can significantly impact your performance on the road or trail. Whether you're training for a marathon or just hitting the pavement for a daily jog, your diet plays a crucial role in fueling your body effectively. So, what should an ideal training diet consist of?

First and foremost, let's talk about carbohydrates. 

Carbs are like the gasoline for your body's engine, providing quick and accessible energy. They're stored in the body as glycogen, but our stores are limited, so it's essential to replenish them regularly. Opt for complex carbohydrates like whole grain pasta, brown rice, oats, whole grain bread, beans, and potatoes to keep your energy levels steady throughout the day.

The role of fats

While carbs are the primary fuel source, fats play a crucial role as well. Think of fats as your backup generator. When your carb stores are depleted during a run, your body turns to fat for energy. While it's not as efficient as carbs, healthy fats like omega-3 fats from fish, nuts, and seeds can help reduce inflammation and support overall health.

Protein, an essential nutrient

Protein is another essential component of a runner's diet. While it's not used for energy during runs, protein is crucial for muscle repair and recovery post-exercise. Aim to include high-quality sources of protein like chicken, fish, eggs, dairy, tofu, or beans in every meal to support muscle strength and reduce soreness.

Don't forget to "eat the rainbow." 

Fruits and vegetables provide vital vitamins and minerals that support overall health and aid in training and recovery. Aim for at least five servings of colorful fruits and vegetables each day to ensure you're getting a diverse range of nutrients to support your running goals.

By prioritizing complex carbs, healthy fats, quality protein, and colorful fruits and vegetables, you can fuel your runs effectively and perform at your best on race day. Remember, nutrition is key to success both on and off the road, so make sure to prioritize your diet as part of your training regimen.

Written by Jamie Sheahan, MD, RD, Director of Nutrition at The Edge Sports & Fitness, where she also doubles as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. As a registered dietitian, Jamie regularly works with endurance athletes to develop day to day meal plans as well as fueling plans to optimize performance.