Four Easy Ways for Runners to Eat Clean

“Eating clean” may be a trendy diet term, but it’s one runners can easily embrace. After all, real, whole foods, with health-boosting nutrients, that are low in (or free from) additives, and grown organically and in a sustainable way are good for your overall health and for peak performance.

It’s not news that filling your plate with fruits, veggies, whole grains, and plant-based proteins (soy, grains, beans, nuts, and seeds) has been shown to decrease the risk of age-related illnesses and conditions, including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Runners benefit from loading up on simple, fresh foods packed with nutrients that boost performance and speed recovery.

Here are easy ways to clean up your running diet:


The best way to control what goes into your body is to make your own meals and snacks. When you do reach for packaged foods, read the nutrition label and avoid products with numerous ingredients, especially those you can’t pronounce, which are likely to be unhealthy added sugars, hydrogenated fats, or food additives.

Try: Instead of packaged crackers with cheesy spread, choose organic whole grain crackers topped with real cheese. This is a great blend of fat, calcium, and whole grains that will keep you feeling full and fueled.


Runners need sodium to help regulate fluid levels. But studies have shown that too much salt can spell trouble, especially if you’re low on heart-protecting potassium (a mineral found in fresh fruit and veggies). Packaged foods, fast foods, and deli meats are the biggest culprits for sodium, so by avoiding them, you’ll keep your salt intake at healthier levels.

Try: Check food labels for sodium levels and aim to keep your intake to 1,500 to 2,300 milligrams per day. Don’t add salt to food.


Reach for fresh fruits, veggies, and lean proteins.

Try: A salad with mixed greens, tomatoes, carrots, and snap peas, topped with a chopped hard-boiled egg and oil/vinegar dressing, with a slice of 100 per cent whole grain bread will fill you up on fibre, protein, high-quality carbs, and a bit of healthy fat. For a prerun meal that’s also a good source of bone-strengthening calcium, dip fresh fruit in plain yogurt sweetened with a touch of honey.


Organic foods, especially produce, carry fewer contaminants and less pesticide residue. Organic or conventional, is usually considered safe, but when you want your body to work hard and perform well, clean eating is a bonus way to keep potentially harmful or undesirable ingredients to a minimum.

Try: Choose organic produce to avoid pesticides, and organic dairy and meat to sidestep antibiotics.

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