6 of the best ways to fuel your winter running

The best ways to fuel your winter running

As the winter approaches and the weather drops, as runners we often turn to heavy, carb-based meals for fuel. Yet according to Kim Pearson, a qualified nutritionist with more than 10 years’ experience, this isn’t always the best idea.

Related: 10 reasons to run when it’s dark and cold 

Here are six, nutrient-rich options to set you up for a run, or replenish your energy stocks at the end of the day:

1. Walnuts

what runners should eat in the winter - walnuts

Walnuts contain omega 3, so they’re a good way of getting those healthy fats into your diet if you’re not keen on oily fish. Omega 3 fats help reduce inflammation and can diminish post-exercise soreness. Walnuts are also a good source of magnesium, which helps build resistance to mental stress.

How to eat it: Take a few for after your next run, or sprinkle on top of a winter salad.

2. Beetroot

what runners should eat in the winter - beetroot

Beetroot is a great choice for runners, as it’s high in dietary nitrates. These are absorbed by the body and converted to nitric oxide, which can boost exercise performance.

How to eat it: Add it to a smoothie or roast in olive oil with whole garlic cloves and sprigs of thyme.

Related: How eating more protein can improve your 5K time 

3. Butternut Squash

what runners should eat in the winter - butternut squash

As well as being a source of slow-release carbs, butternut squash is rich in beta carotene, which helps protect the skin from sun damage. This can occur even in winter if you’re out on the road a lot.

How to eat it: Cook it in some vegetable stock with onions, celery and carrots, and then blend to make a warming, nutritious soup.

4. Kale

what runners should eat in the winter - kale

Kale is great as part of your post-run meal, as it’s high in antioxidant nutrients, particularly vitamin C, which helps protect the body from oxidative damage.

How to eat it: Add to your meal as a side, steamed and dressed with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon, or prepare as a snack of kale crisps by roasting on a low heat for 10-15 minutes until the edges are crisp.

5. Apples

what runners should eat in the winter - apples

The old adage ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ has some truth – apples contain protective compounds such as quercetin. Research published in The American Journal for Clinical Nutrition found people with higher quercetin levels had a lower risk of heart disease.

How to eat it: As a postrun snack, with almond butter.

6. Pheasant

what runners should eat in the winter - phesant

Rich in iron, vitamin B6 and protein, pheasant is a nutritious alternative to roast chicken. It is also rich in the mineral selenium, needed for a healthy immune system.

How to eat it:  Roast it and add more flavour by serving with a homemade apple sauce and a side of kale