Sports Nutrition for Runners

Sports Nutrition Summary Prepared By: Matas Nakrosius ND The Runner’s Academy 

 How should I eat as a Runner? 

Eat between 2 and 6 hours before with a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein with a goal of fueling for the exercise. 

  • Example Meal: Nut Butter and Banana sandwich (this would equal about 60 grams of carbohydrates, 14 grams of protein and 10grams of fat). 

After exercise should be immediately afterwards, to 2 hours later. You should consume a 3 to 1, carb to protein ratio, this includes approximately 20-40 grams of protein. 

  • Example Meal: Rice and Bean with a salad (this would equal about 100 grams of carbohydrates, 30 grams of protein and 18 grams of fat). 

 How should I hydrate as a Runner? 

  • The night prior to exercise you should consume around 500ml or 2 glasses of water. 
  • The morning of exercise you should consume about 2 more glasses of water up to 30mins prior to your exercise. 
  • After exercising you should hydrate as needed. This might be between 1 and 4 glasses every hour. 

 Things to avoid as a Runner

  • Avoid large quantities of fibre before intense exercise. Examples of high fibre include; Kale, beans, bran cereals and berries. 
  • Limit inflammatory foods after exercise, and in general. Examples of this include; alcohol, dairy and processed foods. 

 Foods to promote recovery

  • Antioxidants are great for promoting recovery, this includes blueberries, red or concorde grapes, kale, turmeric, and ginger. 
  • Foods more specific for immune support include, oranges, bell peppers, potatoes, ensuring that you are getting enough calories and increasing protein by about half each meal when feeling run down. 


  • Carbohydrates. Research suggests that this is the most important nutrient with respect to endurance exercise and is essential for peak performance. Sources of carbohydrates include; 1 banana is equal to 20 gram of carbohydrates, 1 cup of blueberries is about 20 grams of carbohydrates, 1 potato is about 35 grams of carbohydrates, 1 cup of cooked rice is about 45 grams of carbohydrates, 1 cup of cooked oatmeal is about 50 grams of carbohydrates and 1 cup of cooked quinoa is about 34 grams of carbohydrates. 1 slice of bread is 20 grams of carbohydrates. In order to consume great carbohydrates, try eating fruit, starchy vegetables and grains. Try to avoid processed foods, candy, doughnuts and cookies where possible. 
  • Fat. One palm size portion of nuts and seeds daily, or fish such as salmon will give you sufficient fat consumption in addition to the fat content of other foods that are likely consumed in a day. Try to eat foods like, chia seeds, walnuts, flax seed and salmon. Try to avoid too much other meats, vegetable oils, peanuts and dairy. 
  • Protein. Protein consumption per meal should be around the 20-40 grams per meal mark. Ideally we are always trying to consume protein immediately after a workout. Try to eat more plant based proteins. Examples include, 1 cup of beans is about 15g of protein, 1cup of lentils is about 18 grams of protein, 1 cup of meat is about 14 grams of protein. 2 tablespoons of nuts or seeds is about 7 grams of protein, 1 cup of rice is about 4 grams of protein and 1 cup of quinoa will be about 8 grams of protein. Try to eat things like beans, lentils, salmon, and tofu. Try to avoid too much protein from animal sources. 

 Food and Nutrient Resources 

You can also try to search foods in google followed by the word “nutrition” and this should bring up further resources. 


  • Magnesium. This is known for its ability to relieve muscle cramps and spasms and can also help with sleep and general recovery. The Magnesium bisglycinate form has been specifically linked to enhances muscle metabolism, the other forms are typically not as effective for muscle specific complaints. Adverse effects of loose stool can occur, however, the bisglycinate form has the least gastrointestinal effects.
  • Sodium. Salt is very valuable with respect to hydration, especially when sweat rates increase in hotter temperatures. Adding some salt to foods at this time can definitely be warranted. 500 grams per day of salt is a typical dose. Most people eat much more than this typically. 
  • Zinc. Zinc has been shown to offset the negative immune system effects from intense training. Zinc can therefore be useful during times of intense training when a runner is more susceptible to illness. Short term use may be advised because zinc can cause a copper deficiency. Zinc can also be hard on the stomach, therefore should be taken with food. 
  • Iron. Iron intake for athletes is recommended at a dosage of 1.3 to 1.7 times greater than the general population. This equates to about 25 to 35 milligrams per day. The best dietary sources of iron are; dark leafy greens, meats, and cooked beans. Combine iron with vitamin C containing foods to increase absorption and avoid tea or coffee and dairy products at the same time as your sources of iron because this can decrease absorption. 
  • Creatine Monohydrate. Creatine monohydrate can be an effective source of fuel for short bursts of energy like sprinting. It can also help with increasing muscle mass, preventing dehydration and it is very safe to use. 
  • Caffeine. Caffeine has been found to potentially increase one’s pain threshold and delay time to fatigue. 1 to 3 milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight consumed at about 30 to 60 minutes prior to a race can be helpful. You can try using caffeine in training to monitor for any gastrointestinal upsets, jitters or problems with concentration. 
  • Turmeric. Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory and helps with muscle and joint damage and recovery. It can be very effective when you are injured. There are theoretical negative interactions with blood thinning medication so be sure to check with your physician if this is the case. 
  • Glucosamine Sulfate. This can be used to limit the effect of osteoarthritis and has been shown to reduce pain and long term damage of osteoarthritis. This can take up to 2 years however, to show these effects. 


  1. Kerksick CM, Wilborn CD, Roberts MD, Smith-Ryan A, Kleiner SM, Jäger R, Collins R, Cooke M, Davis JN, Galvan E, Greenwood M. ISSN exercise & sports nutrition review update: research & recommendations. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2018 Dec;15(1):38. 
  1. Moughan PJ, Rutherfurd SM. Gut luminal endogenous protein: Implications for the determination of ileal amino acid digestibility in humans. British Journal of Nutrition. 2012 Aug;108(S2):S258-63. 
  1. Sherman WM, Jacobs KA, Leenders N. Overtraining in sport. Carbohydrate metabolism during endurance exercise. Human Kinetics Publisher. Champaign. 1998:289-308. 
  1. Cermak NM, van Loon LJ. The use of carbohydrates during exercise as an ergogenic aid. Sports Medicine. 2013 Nov 1;43(11):1139-55. 
  1. Lockwood C. An Overview of Sports Supplements. InEssentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements 2008 (pp. 459-540). Humana Press. 
  1. Beard J, Tobin B. Iron status and exercise. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2000 Aug 1;72(2):594S-7S. 
  1. Lockwood C. An Overview of Sports Supplements. InEssentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements 2008 (pp. 459-540). Humana Press. 
  1. Suhett LG, de Miranda Monteiro Santos R, Silveira BKS, Leal ACG, de Brito ADM, de Novaes JF, Lucia CMD. Effects of curcumin supplementation on sport and physical exercise: a systematic review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2020 Apr 13:1-13. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2020.1749025. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32282223. 
  1. Knapik JJ, Pope R, Hoedebecke SS, Schram B, Orr R, Lieberman HR. Effects of Oral Glucosamine Sulfate on Osteoarthritis-Related Pain and Joint-Space Changes: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Spec Oper Med. 2018 Winter;18(4):139-147. PMID: 30566740. 
  1. Poolsup N, Suthisisang C, Channark P, Kittikulsuth W. Glucosamine long-term treatment and the progression of knee osteoarthritis: systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Ann Pharmacother. 2005 Jun;39(6):1080-7. doi: 10.1345/aph.1E576. Epub 2005 Apr 26. PMID: 15855241.