Running is Great for Your Heart; Make Sure Your Workout Snacks are Too

It is no surprise that regular aerobic activity promotes heart health, and running, which is a form of high intensity cardiovascular exercise, is by far one of the most effective forms.

Heart Healthy Benefits of Running

♥ Manage or prevent high blood pressure

♥ Keep arteries clear of plaque by boosting good cholesterol and lowering triglycerides (fats in blood)

♥ Lower risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), heart attack and stroke.

Running can also help prevent or manage other chronic conditions that greatly impact heart health such as diabetes, overweight and obesity, as it burns more calories than most other forms of aerobics.

Below are snack ideas to compliment your running regiment. The key is to stay fueled during running and promote recovery afterwards, all while promoting heart health!

Pre-Run Snack Tips

For optimal endurance, pre-run snacks should include a source of high quality carbohydrate which will: supply liver glycogen (carbohydrate) stores, maintain energy levels, enhance performance and prevent low blood sugar & hunger. Examples of high quality carbohydrate:

♥ Whole grains like oatmeal, 100% whole grain bread, pasta, crackers and starchy vegetables are complex carbohydrates which are great for energy endurance as they are digested slowly.

♥ Whole fruit like berries and apples are simple carbohydrates but contain fiber for blood glucose control and slow digestion. Couple fruit with protein like low-fat cheese or heart healthy fats like natural peanut butter, for sustained energy throughout your work out.

♥ Low-fat & fat-free dairy products like yogurt and milk contain carbohydrates for energy from the natural sugar lactose and high quality protein for energy endurance.

Post-Run Snack Tips

For optimal recovery after running, carbohydrates are needed to replenish energy (liver glycogen stores), and protein is helpful for rebuilding and repairing muscle. A protein and carbohydrate containing snack should be consumed immediately after exercise, followed by a meal at least 1 hour later. While protein supplements are appealing, protein from whole foods like lean meat, fat-free or low-fat dairy, beans & legumes are best as they provide an array of other nutrients needed for overall health.  Below are heart healthy snacks that are appropriate for pre and post running.

♥ 8oz plain low-fat yogurt, 2 tbsp walnuts, ¾ cup blueberries

♥ Small 100% whole wheat bagel, 1 tbsp natural peanut butter, 2 tbsp dried cranberries

♥ 1 cup whole grain cereal, low-fat milk & sliced bananas

♥ Smoothie-1 cup frozen fruit, 2 tbsp ground flax seed, 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt

♥ 1oz low-fat cheese stick, 10 apple slices

These snacks are filled with heart protective antioxidants, cholesterol lowering fiber and heart healthy fats. In a nutshell, balanced nutrition will help improve performance, promote recovery and overall health.

About Cheryl Williams:

Cheryl Williams is a registered dietitian specializing in the nutritional management of a variety of chronic conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. In her current position at the Emory Heart & Vascular Center Cheryl provides nutrition therapy, wellness coaching, monthly nutrition seminars and healthy cooking demonstrations.

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