Reconstruct Your Diet

Boost cardio, prevent injury and maintain muscle with these supermarket staples

Reconstruct your diet


1 Use the category headings to identify the body benefits you’re after.

2 Select the various foods from within that category that best suit your needs.

3 Add the selected foods together to assemble your weekly shopping list, secure in the knowledge that you’ll be supplying your body with the most potent sources of the nutrients it needs to make you a better runner.


Boost Cardio

Champagne: Raise a glass to your heart, say Reading University scientists. Their studies found the polyphenols in bubbly reduce the loss of nitric oxide from the blood, improving circulation. Per week: 3 glasses
:Even if you hate it, try to love it for your heart’s sake: Bristol University scientists say the benfotiamine in the spread has a beneficial effect on your cardiovascular function. Per week: on toast x3
Tofu:Bean curd is a source of unsaturated fats. A study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that eating these fats post-exercise boosts blood flow by up to 45 per cent. Per week: 150g x2
Steak:Each footstrike damages red blood cells, lowering your levels of iron - key to getting oxygen to the working muscles. Heme iron in steak is easily absorbed, says sports dietitian Karen Reid1. Per week: 150g fillet x2
Apple:It’s crunch time. The quercetin found in an apple a day will improve lung capacity and protect against pollution, say scientists at St George’s Hospital Medical School, London. Per week: 5
Avocado:The sodium, potassium and magnesium found in the creamy fruit improved lung volume and oxygen flow in a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Per week: half x3

Prevent Injury

Blueberries:The polyphenols found in blueberries improve your bone strength, according to research published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. Per week: handful x3
Honey:The amino acids found in the sticky sweet stuff help your body absorb bone-boosting calcium effectively, say US scientists at Purdue University. Per week: 1 tbsp x3
Edamame:These beans contain soy protein, which is rich in isoflavones, plant hormones with anti-inflammatory properties. In a study at Oklahoma State University, eating soy protein daily for three months lessened knee pain in sufferers. Per week: 100g x3
Smoked mackerel:
The fish’s omega-3 fatty acids significantly reduce joint pain and shorten the duration of morning joint-stiffness – so say researchers at Harvard Medical School in the US.Per week: fillet x2
Red pepper:This packs a more powerful punch of vitamin C – crucial for repairing connective tissue and cartilage – than any citrus fruit, says performance nutritionist Drew Price2. Per week: 3 peppers
Pumpkin seeds:These are packed full of magnesium, which fights the ageing of cells that create collagen in your tendons and ligaments, found research in the Proceedings of the National Academies
of Sciences. Per week: 20g x3
Olive oil margarine:Spread it around: this is a great source of bone-building vitamin D, says Reid – especially important as research in the Archives of Internal Medicine found more than three-quarters of adults are D-deficient. Per week: on toast x3

Maintain Muscle

Pork fillet: A tasty way to get lean, mean, high-quality protein, says Price. It also contains thiamine, which is key to efficient metabolism of carbs into energy, and the repair of muscle fibres. Per week: 150g x2
Chocolate milk: Researchers at the University of Connecticut found runners who drank fat-free chocolate milk before a 45-minute run had markers of increased protein synthesis (rebuilding) three hours afterwards.
Per week: 330ml x2
Spinach: The nitric oxide in Popeye’s favourite was found to reduce the amount of oxygen needed to power working muscles by five per cent in studies at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. Per week: 300g x2
Egg protein is the most balanced food protein after human breast milk, which means it contains all the crucial amino acids your muscles need for recovery, says Price. One egg delivers 10 per cent of your daily protein needs. Per week: 3
Pomegranate juice: Ellagitannin, a phytonutrient found in pomegranates, reduces inflammation and post-workout soreness, according to physiologists at the University of Texas. Per week: 200ml x3
Sweet potato: It’s low GI for sustained energy, and has trace minerals manganese and copper – both crucial for healthy muscle function. Many runners fail to get enough, says Price. Per week: 3
Almonds: These nuts are one of the best sources of alpha-tocopherol vitamin E, which helps prevent free-radical damage to muscles after hard efforts. Per week: handful x7

Get Lean

Green tea: EGCG – a compound found in most green teas – speeds up your metabolism so that you burn more calories, says Price. Jasmine tea has the same properties, he adds. Per week: 4 cups
Pine nuts: Korean researchers found consumption of pine kernels prompts your body’s release of cholecystokinin – a gastrointenstinal hormone that helps suppress your appetite. Per week: 3x 20g
Grapefruit: Eating grapefruit before their meals helped dieters lose up to 4.5kg in 12 weeks in research at Scripps Clinic, San Diego. A compound in the fruit lowers insulin, controlling your hunger.  Per week: half x9
Cayenne pepper: The capsaicin in chilli peppers can help manage appetite and burn more calories after your meal, say researchers at Purdue University, US. Per week: ½ tsp x3
Coconut oil: A study in the Journal of Nutrition found regular consumption resulted in a rise in metabolism, a higher rate of calorie-burning, plus reduced fat mass and overall bodyweight. Per week: 1 tbsp x3
Lamb: Have that Sunday roast. Lamb packs carnitine – a mix of amino acids that shuttles fat into the mitochondria (the cells’ power-producers), where it’s metabolised, explains Price.Per week: 150g x2

Stay Healthy

White button mushrooms: The humble button protects your immune system from invaders, say Arizona State University researchers. Per week: 100g x3
Kale: The prebiotics in this green are a type of beneficial fibre that actually helps feed ‘good’ probiotic gut bacteria, says Reid. Per week: 150g x2
Capers: US scientists from Appalachian State University found daily doses of quercetin, present in capers, reduced viral infections. Per week: handful x2
Walnuts: Omega-3 in walnuts helps reduce your cholesterol, found a study published in the             Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Per week: handful x3

Run Faster

Coffee: Runners who had caffeine one hour before an eight-mile run improved their times by an average of 23.8 seconds, in a study reported in the Journal of Sports Science. For maximum benefit, says Price, lower your intake by one cup a day, take 10 days off, then reintroduce before a race. Per week: 6 cups
Watermelon: Citrulline – an amino acid in watermelon – buffers muscle fatigue, which allows you to push harder in training, say Spanish researchers at the University of Córdoba. Per week: 300g x3
Beetroot: In a US study at St Louis University, subjects ran a 5K five per cent faster after eating beetroot than after scoffing cranberries. The root’s nitrate is credited for boosting blood flow.
Per week: 3
Bran flakes: Betaine in bran helps cell function and prevents dehydration, found US research at The College of New Jersey. The result: you can train harder, for longer. Per week: 30g x3

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Discuss this article

There's lies, damn lies, and then the contradictory advice of sports nutritionists.  So its champagne now we should be drinking, not red wine?  Make your bloody minds up!

In the meantime I'll continue to enjoy a healthy, balanced diet of fruit, veg dairy and occasional meat and fish.  

Posted: 13/11/2012 at 15:52

It's hardly contradictory advice because it doesn't say anything about red wine.

Conclusion: drink red wine and champagne.  Job's a good 'un.

Posted: 13/11/2012 at 16:42

By jove - I think Phil has it!

Posted: 13/11/2012 at 16:47

More wine!!!
Posted: 13/11/2012 at 16:55

Magners for me...
Posted: 13/11/2012 at 17:28

Fastest marathon runner I know personally (2:17) drinks pints and eats pies...not sure if they are linked but it's worth a try!

Posted: 13/11/2012 at 17:43

Choisty, is Alf Tupper still alive then?

Posted: 14/11/2012 at 15:08

 i am really liking the idea of drinking pints and eating pies to run 2.17 marathon, only problems i can foresee would be what type of pint and what type of pie, i think carring a back pack with all this while running a marathon might slow you down a bit, a realistic target would 2.30 to be fair.

will try it out tonight with 3 pints and a packet of crisp, do not want to over do it as i am not used to this type of training !!

Posted: 15/11/2012 at 16:33

I pb'd after Turkish Meal, red wine early evening finishing with Guinness and Kebabs on Oxford Street at 1.00 a,m at FLM

Posted: 15/11/2012 at 16:36

u said it soo true hahaha
Posted: 13/01/2013 at 21:53

well they do in paris marathon u may know if u have done one x wines and cheeses crazy
Posted: 13/01/2013 at 21:54

I'm not too sure drinking any alcohol is a good idea to be included in your training. Yeah sure have a glass of whatever to relax and enjoy yourself. But hey imagine...down the local off licence....a bottle of bubbly and a bottle of red...trying to stay healthy..jesus. What Bull


Posted: 16/01/2013 at 16:35

I'm interested in a raw fruit and veg diet. Heard it's amazing. Does anyone know where I can find details to fit in with a 10K training plan?

Posted: 18/06/2013 at 16:51

Very interesting , Has definitely changed my perspective on food

Posted: 20/06/2013 at 10:44

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