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Plant Fueled Performance: A Stronger You and a Stronger Planet

For Global Running Day, we sat down with our Director of Nutrition and decorated distance-runner, Pam Bede, to learn about about how a plant-forward nutrition can positively impact athletic performance.

Pamela Nisevich Bede Bio Pic
Pamela Nisevich Bede Bio Pic

Pamela Nisevich Bede MS, RD, LD

Director of Nutrition

With over 60 million people in the United States describing themselves as a road runner, trail runner, couch to 5k-er, or jogger, there’s a good chance that you too will be celebrating Global Running Day. Whether you anticipate and embrace this informal holiday or view every day as a running day, you need purposeful nutrition to fuel your miles. This year, when you lace up to hit the road in quest of better health, fitness, and wellness, do something good for the planet by fueling up with more plant-based energy and protein. Here’s how to incorporate more plant-forward nutrition and make plant-based performance come to life.

Make It Colorful

 

A wide variety of natural color on your plate offers so much more than visual interest and appeal. Filling fruits and vegetables quiet post-run hunger with filling fiber and refreshing high water content while handily restocking essential vitamins, minerals, and more. Along with bringing bursts of flavor, delightful textures, and brilliant color to your plate, nutritional powerhouses such as colorful Cherry Red Lettuce, bright Lana’i Sweet Peppers, and sweet Cherry Tomatoes, deliver phytonutrients and antioxidants for health and recovery in the off hours not spent running. Nutritionally dense but light on calories, you can enjoy your fill of fruits and veggies without overcompensating on calorie intake.

Time It Right

 

Plants have a lot going for them. Flavor, texture, nutrients, and fiber. They are great choices in the hours leading up to a run, the evening before a tough workout, or dinner following a late evening jog. Fruit is packed with a natural sugar – fructose, which the body puts to work with ease, but since sensitive stomachs don’t always agree with fruit sugar, be sure to add in other sources of carbs alongside your berries, bananas, and apples. Try sliced banana with warm oatmeal an hour or two before a long run. Or snack on sliced apples, carrots, and hummus with pita bread for a mid-afternoon snack.

 

In addition to fructose, fruits and veggies contain lots of fiber, a nutrient that most all of us need more of… but not in the minutes leading up to a run! Save those texture rich, crunchy, crispy veggies for the hours post run in order to prevent the need to make a pit stop mid-run! Within 30 – 60 minutes post run, be sure to add in some high-quality protein along with carbs to speed along recovery and restock energy in anticipation of tomorrow’s workout.

Recover Properly

 

The accumulated effect of early wake up calls, intense training, and time spent running, calls for serious recovery. Foam rolling and stretching may come to mind in the time post-run, but nutritional recovery should not be overlooked. Taking the form of liquids alongside carbohydrates and protein, nutritional recovery works to replenish fluids, restock muscle glycogen stores, and begin repair of tired and tattered muscles. To avoid the sufferfest of post-exercise soreness, fatigue, and lengthier recovery times, experts recommend grabbing 15-30 grams of protein to support muscle health, 2-4 times as much carb for glycogen restoration, electrolytes to speed rehydration, and fluids to replace the volume lost during the sweat sesh.

Purposeful Plants

 

Plant-based recovery calls for carefully curated amounts and types of proteins from multiple sources. Most plants don’t offer a complete blend of essential amino acids needed for muscle repair and recovery, so be sure to add in multiple plant sources like pea, rice, soy, and others. Variety often brings a more complete blend of amino acids and assures consumption of the amino acids needed for performance. To simplify post-run recovery, try a refreshing smoothie made with a base of plant protein powder containing multiple sources of plant proteins. Blend with nutrient dense whole food choices, and you’ll meet the needs of muscles, restock energy stores and glycogen, and replete a variety of vitamins and minerals lost in sweat and through metabolism. Smoothies are a great choice in the hours post run thanks to convenience and form. If you’re one of the many runners who find they simply cannot stomach solids after a cool down (raises hand), a carefully crafted smoothie or smoothie bowl can check all the boxes of recovery, restoration, and rehydration.

 

So this year on Global Running Day, while you’re logging miles to benefit your health and wellness, fuel up on plant-based energy and recovery that benefits you and the globe. By instituting the good habits of plant-based performance nutrition, you can have a delicious routine in place on Global Running Day and miles into the future. See you at the finish line!