By: Jan Dowell, MS, RD, CSSD

Carbohydrates are key fuel for a runner, but you also need an adequate amount of protein and fat during the week.

Runners have a higher protein needs due to our higher fuel needs and for repairing our muscles after a run. Protein, along with carbs, within 30 minutes of a run is of prime importance for recovery. Healthy sources of protein include milk, yogurt and cheese (even soy based versions). Chocolate milk, for example, is a great recovery drink due to the carb and protein combination. Beans (hummus, black beans on a salad or in a tortilla) are great vegetarian options. Try walnuts and almonds along with dry cereal for an easy recovery snack. Choose fish, chicken, lean beef or vegetarian alternatives to accompany your carb-rich rice, pasta or potatoes at a meal.

Although a lower fat diet is recommended for heart health, don’t go too low in fat. A study on female runners found that the women who ate too little fat had a higher running injury risk, probably due to the lack of calories they consumed. Within your fuel needs and weight goals, include healthy fats such as olive oil, avocadoes, oil-based salad dressings and olives (the latter two also being a good sodium source for runners).

Runners need a variety of foods to meet their everyday fuel needs. Eat up! 

Jan Dowell, MS, RD, CSSD is a Board Certified Sports Dietitian and a runner. Get more nutrition and hydration training tips from Jan at