This Quick Snack Could Make You a Faster Runner and Reduce Fatigue

by | Mar 21, 2024 | Nutrition

Whether you’re an avid runner or a new arrival on the tarmac, you’re likely looking for a way to improve your PB (or at least the overall experience). While proper running form, adequate sleep and sufficient hydration will help build a strong foundation, the stalwarts and weekend warriors alike are always looking for an extra edge. Turns out a quick snack might be what you need to become a faster runner.

According to a new study published in the journal Physical Activity and Nutrition, cranberries could be your ultimate running wingman. As part of a series of trials involving trained runners, researchers discovered that those snacking on a cranberry supplement for the duration of the 28-day study period were able to achieve improvements in their performance and muscle fatigue during a series of 1.5km trials.

While athletes were able to pick up the speed on longer runs, those same benefits didn’t extend to the 400-metre tests.

Cranberries: Your New Workout Weapon?

Across the pond in the US and Canada, cranberries are consumed frequently—especially around the festive season. However, back home, they’re not as widely available (although you can find them as a dried-out addition in many trail mixes), so you’ll usually have to order a bag of frozen berries online to get your fix. But before you hit “add to cart”, you’re probably wondering why this fruit is helping give athletes the edge.

READ MORE: Can Running Actually Help You Lose Weight?

Cranberries contain a compound known as polyphenols, and stack up far higher levels than the majority of other fruits and veggies. This compound is important because it has been shown to have the ability to combat so-called exercised-induced free radicals.

Free radicals are a normal byproduct of physical exertion, however, an excess of these unstable molecules can hurt your recovery and exercise performance. In short, cranberries may help boost your running efforts thanks to their high polyphenol content.

Try 3 More Smart Diet Tweaks to Speed Up Your Runs

A new PB demands more than just fruit salad; enhance your diet with some of these tips to fire up your engine.

1. Eat More Protein

This macro is essential when it comes to repairing your muscles after a tough slog. However, research suggests that an adequate supply of protein may even help you floor the accelerator on your runs. The research, published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, analysed a group of 10 male endurance athletes.

Participants were divided into two groups: the first feasted on a diet containing a moderate amount of protein while the second refuelled with high-protein meals. The result? Those getting a mega supply of the macro ran around 1.5% faster across a 5K distance than those on a moderate protein diet.

2. Fuel Up On Carbs

No pain? More gains. Yes, the motto has changed, but nixing soreness on your runs can help you push your performance into new territories. And, thankfully, carbs might provide a cure to your tarmac troubles. Research has found that endurance runners who nosh on around 120 grams of carbs an hour during a mountain marathon experienced significantly less muscle damage and physiological stress than runners eating fewer portions of the macro.

READ MORE: Sweat-Proof & Workout-Ready: The 9 Best Earbuds for Running in 2024

3. Drink Up

Even a small degree of dehydration can significantly impact your energy levels, muscle function and motivation. That’s why it’s crucial that you up your H2O consumption (and stay topped up) throughout your runs—especially when tackling longer distances. Make sure you’re sipping on more on warmer days.

Beyond quenching your thirst and regulating your body’s temps, water also plays a role in maintaining moisture levels within your body’s tissues. Staying adequately hydrated will ensure that your eyes, nose and mouth don’t dry out and will do the same for your bones, brain and blood, too. Plus, water can help lubricate and cushion your joints for some easy flexing.

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