Food and exercise go hand in hand. To perform well, you have to eat well, and to recover properly, you need to rehydrate and refuel with water and nutrient-dense meals. But the thing is, some foods are better than others when it comes to boosting athletic performance, especially running. In fact, according to the results of a new study, members of #teamcardio are often prone to digestive troubles. But the good news is, there are plenty of foods that are good for runners to stock up on to combat these irritating symptoms before they even have a chance to flare up.
The new study comes from Anglia Ruskin University in England, where researchers recruited 16 "healthy, recreationally active runners" to participate in an experiment, per the research article published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. According to the university’s official press release, the volunteers were randomly assigned to eat either a low or high FODMAP diet for one week.
Let's pause for a moment. Are you clueless as to what the hell FODMAP even is? Don’t sweat it. For those who don’t know, the FODMAP diet, the study's press release explains, typically includes lactose foods (think dairy), fructans (bread-y carbs like pasta and cereal), galactic-oligosaccharides (legumes, beans), excess fructose (found in fruits like pears and veggies like asparagus), and polyols (a food additive). Low FODMAP diets are often prescribed to people experiencing digestive health issues, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), so don’t feel too bad if the term didn't ring any bells. The only reason I know what the FODMAP diet is, is because I try follow it to keep my own IBS symptoms in check (spoiler: it’s not easy).
Anyway, back to the study: To track their progress, the volunteers completed surveys both at the beginning and end of the week. According to the researchers’ findings,69 percent of those who’d followed a low FODMAP diet reported that they were able to run more frequently and perform better overall. The only downside is, the low FODMAP diet is pretty restrictive, and unless you’re working closely with a dietitian or nutritionist, it can be difficult to navigate.
Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD, a registered dietitian based in New York City and nutrition partner with KIND, tells Elite Daily that the reason why runners sometimes struggle to figure out the best foods to eat after training is because, during this type of physical activity, blood is diverted away from the gut as it works itself into the muscles. "If you eat a large meal shortly before an intense workout, chances are the food is going to sit undigested in your stomach and cause distress," Rizzo explains. "The same can happen if you eat fatty foods before a workout because they take a long time to digest, as well as sugar alcohols or high fiber foods, which can both cause bloating and gas."
So what are the best foods for runners, FODMAP or no FODMAP? Here's what the experts suggest you shop for if you're a fan of pounding the pavement.