Craving a juicy steak? Go for it! Beef is rich in Vitamin B, which helps convert carbs into the fuel needed to power you through a run, rather than the wobbly stuff that lingers on your waistline. A 100g serving also supplies 34 per cent of your RDA of zinc, a mineral essential for a strong immune system. You’ll get two milligrams of iron, too, which is a plus because “running, especially high mileage, breaks down red blood cells, so athletes need about 30 per cent more iron than non-athletes”, says dietician Rikki Keen. That’s 10mg for men and 23mg for women daily.
Keep it lean Lean cuts include sirloin, fillet steak, flank or 95 per cent lean minced beef. The perfect portion is palm-size.
Nutrition lowdown (fillet steak) 214kcal, 11g fat, 25g protein
Dark chicken meat
Don’t believe the myth that the juicy meat found in chicken thighs, wings and legs is off-limits because of its extra calories and fat. A 100g breast packs 161kcal, while an equivalent portion of dark meat only runs up to 200kcal. And while dark meat does have more fat, less than four grams of that is the saturated variety. To balance those ‘extras’ you get more flavour, immune-boosting zinc to keep you up and running, and iron to keep your oxygen- supplying bloodstream on top form. The bottom line is that dark meat is a healthy way to add variety to your diet, says sports dietician Molly Kimball.
Keep it lean It’s the skin that contains most of the unhealthy saturated fat, so buy boneless or skinless pieces, or cook with the skin on, then remove before eating.
Nutrition lowdown 200kcal, 11g fat, 28g protein
It’s often struck off our physique-conscious menus as a fatty meat, but lamb redeems itself with a hefty hit of metabolism-boosting protein and heart-protecting Omega-3. Because the level of Omega-3 depends on the lamb’s diet, look for organic or pasture-fed. One study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that people who ate grass-fed red meat (including lamb) three times a week for four weeks increased the levels of healthy Omega-3 in their blood, while decreasing levels of inflammatory Omega-6. Plus, like beef, lamb is also a good source of vital zinc and iron.
Keep it lean Loin and leg are leaner cuts, and trim any visible fat. Because lamb can dry out without it, try roasting or braising the meat for a stew.
Nutrition lowdown (roast lamb loin) 354kcal, 28g fat, 21g protein
Pork is the best substitute for chicken-lovers. Compared with chicken breasts, a 100g serving of pork tenderloin actually packs 13 per cent fewer calories and the same amount of fat. It’s also an excellent source of Vitamin B6, which helps your body metabolise protein and carbs so they’re used for energy and not stored where you don’t want them.
Keep it lean Grill centre-cut pork chops or roast pork tenderloin. Lower fat meats, especially pork, need to be seasoned well to maximise flavour. Rub on a mix of spices such as cumin, paprika and chilli powder (which will give your fat-burning metabolic system another boost) and fresh or dried herbs, plus salt and pepper.
Nutrition lowdown (pork tenderloin) 140kcal, 4g fat, 25g protein