Runners love to eat. In fact, it's the reason why many of us at Runner's World run in the first place. Logging all those miles can make you hungry. And that means filling up on meals that satisfy your cravings for real, delicious food while still providing a balance of nutrients to fuel your running.
Depending on your training regimen, health goals and dietary restrictions, your perfect balance of nutrients might look very different from your running buddy's. If you're logging long distances and lots of miles, for example, you need a high-calorie meal plan packed with carbs and quality protein. But if you're trying to lose weight, your perfect plan should be loaded with filling but low-calorie foods.
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We've taken all that and more into consideration in The Runner's World Cookbook, our brand-new collection of 150 of the best recipes the magazine has ever published. With its easy-to-follow key, you can search for recipes that meet your exact nutritional needs—and find prerun and recovery recipes; low-calorie recipes; vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free recipes; and recipes ready in 30 minutes or less.
To give you a taste of the cookbook, we've put together three meal plans for runners with different goals. Whether you're training for a long-distance race, trying to lose weight, or following a vegetarian (or mostly vegetarian) diet, one of these plans will satisfy both your nutritional needs and your taste buds.
You're Logging Lots of Miles
Training for a marathon or half-marathon affords the luxury of eating a decent number of calories. A 120-pound runner, for example, logging 40 miles per week needs about 1,800 calories per day, while a 180-pound runner logging 40 miles a week needs around 2,600. But hold the French fries: The vast majority of your daily calories should come from quality, nutrient-dense foods that will fuel your demanding workouts. Starting with carbohydrates.
"Carbs are essentially the fuel for muscles, organs and your brain," says Pamela Nisevich Bede, M.S., R.D., an RW advisory board member and co-owner of Swim, Bike, Run, Eat! "Without enough carbs, runners will struggle to find enough energy to finish a run."
More: Why Are Carbs Important?