Plain Non-Fat Greek Yogurt1 of 10
This stuff trumps plain yogurt when it comes to protein content—it has, on average, 18 grams per six-ounce serving. Yogurt is high in calcium, potassium, zinc and vitamins B6 and B12, all of which promote strong bones, optimal immune function and an increase in energy. Greek yogurt is thicker and creamier than its plain old-fashioned counterpart and is lower in lactose, too. For an energy boost, try topping Greek yogurt with high-fiber cereals, or blend with fresh fruit for a refreshing nutrient-dense smoothie three to four hours before a run.
Wild Salmon2 of 10
When it comes to fish, salmon is at the top of its class. Not only is it flavorful and filling, but it's also a high-quality protein and healthy fat source. Per ounce, salmon contains about 7 grams of protein, less than 1 gram of saturated fat and a hefty dose of the omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA play an important role as an anti-inflammatory agent; they promote fat as fuel during exercise, and may promote fat loss and muscle protein synthesis.
As a runner, this means you can perform at your best for a longer period of time. You'll be less likely to hit a wall, and your body can use your fat stores as energy when your carb stores run out. Omega-3s EPA and DHA also contribute to a decrease in recovery time. That means that when you run on consecutive days, you won't feel as much fatigue.
Quinoa3 of 10
Move out of the way, brown rice. Quinoa is here to stay. This gluten-free carb source is not a grain—it's a seed, or pseudo-grain. One of the only grain-like foods that contain all nine essential amino acids, quinoa is filled with complete proteins (5.57 grams of protein per cup of cooked quinoa). In addition, quinoa is high in dietary fiber, which lowers bad cholesterol and boosts the good stuff while keeping wastes moving through your gut.
Quinoa is also high in the minerals copper and manganese, both of which play a role in protecting the body from cancer and other free-radical damage, and promote bone health. Cook quinoa like you'd cook rice—for every 1 cup of quinoa, you'll need 2 cups of water. Season with sea salt to taste, and enjoy with whatever sounds appetizing.
Watermelon4 of 10
Not just a summer fruit, watermelon should be a staple in every American diet. It's an excellent snack during race season. Due to its high content of vitamin C, watermelon is a sure-fire way to stay in tip-top shape and avoid getting sick during prolonged periods of intense training. Additionally, watermelon is hydrating because it's high in—you guessed it—water.
You know a watermelon is ripe if it has a yellow or cream-colored "ground spot" (where the watermelon rested on the ground), and if it produces a dull thud when thumped. Fill up on watermelon before and after a run for an extra boost of carbs and hydration.
Oat Bran5 of 10
High in fiber, oat bran is one of those carbs that'll provide energy and nutrients while flushing your body clean of toxins. Oat bran contains 50 percent more soluble fiber than oatmeal, making it a better cholesterol-lowering agent, while moving wastes through the gut. In addition, oat bran contains more protein, vitamins and minerals than oatmeal.
Because oat bran is high in fiber, it tends to expand in the stomach. That means you'll find yourself full for longer while the body has to work harder at digestion. Oat bran is delicious as a warm cereal for breakfast, but can also used as an ingredient in hearty pancakes, muffins and breads, or blended in to a smoothie for a pre-workout shake.
Hummus with Veggies6 of 10
Garbanzo beans (also known as chick peas) are the main ingredient in hummus (with the addition of olive oil, tahini paste and salt). Hummus is filled with nutrients perfect for the avid runner including carbs, fiber, protein and healthy fats. One half-cup serving of hummus provides 17.5 grams of carbohydrates, 7.5 grams of fiber and 9.5 grams of protein.
Due to their high level of soluble fiber, garbanzo beans are digested slowly in the body, helping to regulate blood sugar levels and improve heart health. On top of that, hummus is a high-carb snack that's perfect pre- or post-run. Serve it with sliced veggies like carrots, cucumbers and bell peppers for an added nutritional bonus of vitamins and minerals.
Eggs7 of 10
Eggs are affordable, and hands down the best whole food source of quality protein. They're incredibly versatile and loaded with protein that revs your metabolism and repairs muscles. Eggs contain six grams of protein each and are a complete protein, meaning they contain all nine essential amino acids.
We used to worry that eating the yolks would raise cholesterol. To date, there have been no scientific studies to support that theory. What's more, the yolk contains about half the protein found in the egg and the mineral choline, which helps fend off inflammation—ideal for post-workout recovery. Additionally the USDA reported that eggs today have more vitamin D and less cholesterol than they did in 2002, when they were last studied.
Bananas8 of 10
The ideal on-the-go energy source for athletes, bananas are packed with potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C and manganese. Runners are known for training on consecutive days, often with little rest. Because of this, the body spends more time repairing tissues from training, leaving you more susceptible to getting sick.
Eating foods like bananas can help you stay fit and healthy throughout race season. One medium banana contains around 28 grams of carbs, making them a smart choice pre- and post-workout.
Peanut Butter9 of 10
When it comes to running fuel, you can't get much better than peanut butter. High in healthy fats, fiber and protein, peanut butter provides you with sustained energy throughout a long- or short-distance run. The healthy fats found in this childhood favorite are digested slower than carbs, providing a feeling of fullness for a longer while, and slow-releasing nutrients for use as energy throughout your workout.
When we eat carbs, our insulin spikes rapidly, providing a quick boost of energy. Slowing that boost down just a bit with the addition of healthy fats like peanut butter can take that quick boost and turn it in to sustained energy.