Trigger foods: Pasta, sugary sweets
Healing foods: Sweet potatoes, quinoa, chia seeds, shellfish
One of the most commonly cited reasons for skipping a run is general sluggishness. It’s also one of the easiest problems to solve with food. If you’re getting enough sleep and exercise but still feeling sluggish, your diet is probably to blame. The most common culprit is refined sugar, which leads to spikes and crashes in your blood sugar levels, explains Marissa Vicario, a certified integrated health and nutrition coach. ‘Runners, especially, need to seek out slow-release carbs to keep their energy levels consistent,’ she says. ‘Leafy greens will boost your energy, and quinoa and sweet potatoes will keep blood sugar levels steady.’
Vicki Lee, a registered nutritional therapist, says that runners have been indoctrinated to load up on carbs, but many tend to go for nutrient-poor, wheat-based carbs such as pasta and bread. ‘Fruits and vegetables are usually better forms of fuel for runners,’ she says. Chia seeds, meanwhile, are tiny, nutrient-dense energy bombs, crammed full of fibre, carbs, protein and omega-3s, and are great at regulating blood sugar. Add them to your morning bowl of yoghurt and fruit to keep your energy levels up all the way to your evening run.
Some runners who complain about sluggishness may actually be feeling the effects of anaemia, which is often caused by iron deficiency. If, in addition to feeling sluggish, you feel foggy and cold, see a doctor to get your blood-iron levels checked. To boost your iron levels, load up on seafood – mussels, oysters and prawns are among the best food sources of iron.