7 Superfoods for Runners

Oatmeal, kale and other healthy choices will help power long runs.

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As I excitedly await competing in the New York City Marathon on Sunday, I thought I'd share my all-time favorite superfoods that help me in long-distance running. When I first began running, a passion since age 15, I realized that what I ate had a significant effect on my performance. Soon, I was learning all about which foods are ideal for endurance, stamina and energy. I built my strength for running as I simultaneously figured out how nutrition plays a large role in the sport.

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Oatmeal: The Great Grain. One bowl of organic steel-cut oatmeal provides tons of fiber and healthy carbs to start the day on a great note. I recommend Arrowhead Mills Steel Cut Oats for its lower sugar content as a base for many delicious mix-in options, such as blueberries, flaxseed and almond butter. 

Kale: The Green Machine. This popular leafy green is loaded with fiber and nutrients to lower blood cholesterol levels and vitamin K to help support bone strength. It can be served raw and dressed with an avocado dressing, and I personally love munching on Just Pure Foods' Kale Chips because its one of the few bags you can eat all at once. 

Bananas: The Staple. Known as nature's candy, the sweetness of bananas only adds to their glowing potassium credentials. They also provide the perfect portion of smart carbs before a run to boost energy levels. For breakfast, I recommend slicing up half a banana with 2 percent Greek yogurt. If you're looking for banana on the go, one of my favorites is Barnana organic dehydrated banana snack. 

Chia Seeds: The Universal. This nickname indicates chia seeds' incredible versatility. Whether mixed into oatmeal, drizzled on a salad or thrown into baked goods, these seeds contain enough omega-3 fatty acids and all 20 amino acids to keep you right on track, running or otherwise. 

Wild Salmon: The Omega. Salmon is the ultimate source for omega-3 fatty acids, which help the body's metabolic processes. My brain is always working when I'm running, so a salmon salad after a midday run offers an excellent recharge of nutrients. The quickest way I've found to make salmon is by baking it with a drizzle of salt, pepper and olive oil. At home, I typically bake for 12 minutes in a Breville Smart Oven. 

Sweet Potato: The Carb in Charge. This complex carb, which can be prepared in numerous ways, lives in the spotlight when the temperatures cool. I like to enjoy one after a workout with veggies and mixed greens for the ultimate replenishing meal. I also recommend to my clients Food Should Taste Good's Sweet Potato Chips for an ideal midday snack. 

Walnuts: The Boost. Another omega-3 hotshot, walnuts are a great addition to any meal, thanks to their healthy fats and tasty crunch. I recommend throwing them into morning oatmeal or a big green salad for that boost that we all need throughout the day. 

Hungry for more? Write to eatandrun@usnews.com with your questions, concerns and feedback. 

Heather Bauer, RD, CDN , is a nationally-recognized nutrition expert, author, and entrepreneur. She is the author of two top selling books, The Wall Street Diet and Bread is the Devil. She is the founder of Nu-Train, a nutrition consulting company, and Bestowed, a subscription service that offers consumers a personalized way to discover, sample, shop, and learn about the best nutrition and lifestyle products on the market.