Trader Joe’s is a favorite supermarket among many of us due to its fair prices and unique food choices. You can spend hours walking through the aisles, and you’ll find a ton of options that fit perfectly into your diet that contain all the nutrients you need to support your training.
But at times, those options can feel overwhelming so we spoke with two registered dietitians about the items they consider to b the best foods for runners: Angie Asche M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., owner of Eleat Sports Nutrition and author of Fuel Your Body, and Sarah Schlichter, M.P.H., R.D.N., founder of Nutrition for Running and host of the Nail Your Nutrition podcast. They broke down their picks for pre-, mid- and post-run fueling. As a quick refresher:
- A pre-run snack should ideally be rich in simple, fast-acting carbs to supply energy, but it shouldn’t have too much fiber to cause GI issues. These carbs digest fairly quickly and can be eaten 30 to 60 minutes before a run.
- Mid-run snacks are best for easy to moderate efforts that are 90 minutes or longer (or high-intensity efforts over 60 minutes), and they should contain simple carbs and sugars to give you energy fast. Depending on your workout and individual needs, it’s recommended to refuel every 30 to 45 minutes.
- A post-run snack or meal should have a 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein to replace glycogen stores and promote muscle recovery. (In other words, a food should have 1 gram of protein for every 3 grams of carbs.)
Prerun: Organic Yellow Lentil & Brown Rice Spaghetti
If you’re carb-loading for a big race, you’ll want to keep this spaghetti in your cupboard. Made with yellow lentils and brown rice, it’s high in carbs, protein, and fiber to provide energy and keep you full throughout the day or night. Not to mention, it’s gluten free and vegan, making it a win-win for runners with dietary restrictions.
Prerun: Dried Chile Spiced Mango
Schlichter says dried fruit like mango makes an excellent pre-run snack because not only does it offer carbohydrates, but it also has small amounts of iron and antioxidants, she says. Schlichter likes the Chili Spiced Mango for a kick of flavor, but she also recommends the Freeze Dried Mango or Just Mango slices for runners who only want the tropical fruit taste.
Prerun: Gluten-Free Ginger Turmeric Granola
When you’re tired of the same old granolas, this ginger turmeric variety is sure to wow your tastebuds. It’s made with oats, crispy brown rice, coconut, and warm spices, such as turmeric, ginger powder, and cinnamon. “It’s a great pre-run, high-carbohydrate option to top off glycogen stores before a run,” says Schlichter. “And, the turmeric and ginger help reduce inflammation.” She also recommends carrying this granola along for ultra distances to switch things up and mitigate taste and texture fatigue.
Prerun: Trail Mix Crackers
Savory, sweet and crunchy, these crackers deliver in the taste and texture department. “A mixture of mung beans, sesame seeds, raisins, pumpkin seeds, and cashews creates flavor in each bite,” says Schlichter. “These crackers provide sodium, carbs, fat, and protein, so they could work as a quick snack before a run,” she adds.
Midrun: Organic Pitted Medjool Dates
With almost 30 grams of carbs in just three dates, these juicy and sweet dried fruits are perfect to put in your pack during a long run. Not only are they portable and easy to eat, but they also provide potassium, an electrolyte lost in sweat. Sprinkle a dash of salt on top to replace sodium losses and temper the sweet taste. “I’ve worked with ultra runners who snack on these during their run, but most runners enjoy them as an early pre-run snack,” says Asche.
Midrun: Organic Apple Sauce Fruit Crushers
If you’re tired of sports gels during a run, opt for something more natural, like squeezable applesauce. Made with just organic fruit, these suckable pouches come in a variety of flavors, such as apple mango, apple banana, apple strawberry, and more. Not to mention, each pack is small, with just 15 grams of carbs, so you can slurp down one during a shorter, more intense run or bring a few with you for a longer run.
Midrun: Cold Pressed Watermelon Juice
Watermelon makes a refreshing and hydrating juice that offers plenty of potassium. Plus, it has an amino acid called L-citrulline, which may diminish muscle soreness after running. If drinking something on the run is more your style, try adding a dash of salt to the watermelon juice for a dose of carbs and electrolytes.
Postrun: Omega Trek Mix
Postrun: Dark Chocolate Protein Muffin
“Morning runners who either skip breakfast or don’t know what to eat can rely on [Trader Joe’s] dark chocolate protein muffin for an easy meal that works great at home or on the go,” says Schlichter. One container has 12 grams of protein and 31 grams of carbs to aid in muscle recovery and replace glycogen stores. “Just remove the lid, add liquid, and microwave for 60 seconds, and you have a gooey muffin with protein,” she says.
Postrun: Green Goddess Salad Dressing
Made with avocados, green onion, lemon, chives, basil, and garlic, this dressing is full of flavor and goes well on top of salads, grain bowls or roasted veggies. “Avocados are a great source of healthy fat for runners, and this dressing is ideal as part of your post-run meal,” says Asche.
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