4. 6 Nutrition Tips for Summer Exercise
High temperatures mean that eating certain foods before and after runs can help you perform your best as the temperature starts to soar.
Summer Workout: Best 6 Drinks & Foods for Runners in the Summer
1. Coconut water
Known as nature’s sports drink, coconut water is ideal for rehydrating after summertime runs instead of artificially sweetened sports drinks or plain H2O. Read the nutrition facts carefully, though: many coconut waters are packed with added sugars.
Coconut water is loaded with potassium. Potassium is one of six key electrolytes (the nutrients that are critical to preventing dehydration). Potassium also helps to keep blood sugar levels stable and assists with muscle function and relaxation. If you’re counting macros, note that coconut water is lower in carbohydrates than normal sports drinks.
Avocados are incredibly nutrient-rich and full of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B and vitamin C, which aren’t stored in the body and need to be replenished daily.
For runners, avocados are especially helpful: they’re full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats which reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure.(1) They are full of soluble fiber which helps keep you feeling full for longer — perfect for long run mornings.
Avocados have one more surprise benefit: they are actually one of the top plant-based protein foods! Regularly eating avocados in a balanced diet can contribute to the development of lean muscle mass. Try adding smashed avocado, herbs, and salt to a piece of whole-grain toast before heading out on a run.
These little nutrient-dense fruits are fantastic for runners. Blueberries have a high water content, so consuming them before working out in the heat will help you stay hydrated during extra steamy runs. They’re also high in antioxidants, protecting against numerous chronic diseases like heart disease.
In fact, one study found that when runners ate blueberries before a 5-kilometer run, their post-run “good” cholesterol levels increased while insulin levels decreased.(2) Luckily, blueberries are plentiful during the summer. Have a handful before heading out for a run, or try a smoothie with blueberries, Greek yogurt, and kale.
Did you know that kefir, a cultured dairy product, is one of the best sources of probiotics? Probiotics are beneficial gut bacteria that boost the immune system, help you maintain a healthy weight, and prevent the development of leaky gut syndrome. These are helpful benefits for any athletes, but when it comes to runners, kefir is great because of its ability to help improve allergies.
If you suffer from hay fever or other seasonal allergies, you might find that spending time running outside exacerbates your condition. Regularly consuming kefir, however, can help alleviate that, as the microorganisms found in kefir help the immune system naturally suppress allergic reactions.(3)
This seed’s popularity has skyrocketed in recent years and with good reason. It’s a complete protein source, meaning it provides all 20 amino acids the body needs, including the ten essential acids that our body doesn’t produce on its own. If you don’t eat meat or just want an extra protein boost, serving quinoa as a side dish or building a meal around it can help you boost your protein intake.
Quinoa is great in summertime because quinoa is also a complex carbohydrate, helping to sustain you during challenging runs while aiding in weight loss. Gluten free runners rejoice: Quinoa is a safe food for you! Enjoy it as an alternative to pasta the night before a big race or a longer run!
Spinach should also be on your shopping list when exercising in summer. Running or training in the heat can take a toll on your body. Luckily, this leafy green can help you reach peak performance.
One study discovered that nitrates, which are found in greens like spinach, can improve performance during short bouts of exercise, like sprints or interval running. In fact, after just five weeks of training, athletes given a nitrate supplement of 400 milligrams — the equivalent of about 2-3 cups of fresh spinach — improved their muscle fiber composition.(4) Improvements in muscle fiber allow athletes to train harder and boost performance. Enjoy spinach in a chia-seed smoothie before running or afterward in a Grecian spinach salad.
Choosing the right foods in the summer can make it easier to work out in the heat, both before and after your run. Integrate these nutrition tips into your summer diet to improve your running performance. Your body will thank you!