Check Out These Favorite Mid-Run Natural Food Options For Runners
You’re at mile 11 of a 17 mile long run and you feel your energy fading fast. What do you reach for? A maximized blend of glycogen-producing polymers that will get you through those last 6 miles? Wait- what?
If you’re anything like me, the thought of using natural foods for an energy boost sounds much better than using something that contains chemicals concocted in a lab. I’ve tried a few different natural food options during long runs and wanted to share some of my favorite whole food-based options for sustaining energy.
Nut butter blends
Nut butter blends provide a nice blend of protein-packed nut butter with fats and carbohydrates to fuel your long runs. However, nut butter blends often have a thicker consistency than most gels, so I recommend consuming them with water or another liquid.
Justin’s provides all natural nut butters like peanut butter, almond butter, and hazelnut butter in convenient 1.15oz or 14g squeeze packs that fit easily in a pocket or running belt. You can get the classic nut butters or blends with honey, maple, vanilla, and chocolate.
PocketFuel nut butter blends combine whole food ingredients, like seeds and fruits, with nut butters to provide natural fuel for sustained energy in a convenient gel-sized package with a re-sealable cap. My absolute favorite flavor is chocolate espresso, but other PocketFuel flavors include banana blueberry, coconut cherry, chia goji & honey, pineapple coconut, chocolate haze, and vanilla haze.
It’s relatively simple to mix your own nut butter blends with peanut butter, almond butter, or cashew butter. Use a blender or food processor to mix the nut butter with your favorite energy-boosting ingredients, such as chia seeds, dried berries, coconut oil, honey, maple syrup, cocoa powder, or coffee powder to create the perfect fuel for your long runs. You can take it with you using a re-sealable plastic bag or in a re-usable gel flask.
Fruit puree blends
Fruit puree blends provide a natural energy boost from fructose in convenient pouches you can throw in your pocket or tuck in a fuel belt. You can find pouches of applesauce blends or other fruit puree combinations in most grocery stores. If you’re looking for organic fruit blends, your local health food store will offer some good options.
One fruit-based fuel option I’ve recently used to fuel my long runs is PowerBar’s Performance Energy Blends, which combine two or more pureed fruits with their C2Max formulation (2:1 glucose to fructose blend) to provide a dual energy source for improved endurance performance. These fruit blends are available in apple mango strawberry, banana blueberry, pear apple peach, and pear blackberry (my favorite flavor).
Just as with the nut butter blends, you can make your own fruit puree blends using your favorite fruits. One recommendation is to add a little lemon juice to your fruit blend, if it contains banana, to keep it from changing color (and looking nasty!). Put your blends in a re-sealable plastic bag, ripping off a corner to eat them easily, or use a soft plastic re-usable gel flask to take the fruit blend with you.
Just about any type of dried fruit will provide a good source of carbohydrates from fructose, but here are a few of my favorites that are easy to carry with you and eat on the run:
Raisins – 1 small box (1.5 oz) of raisins has 129 calories, 323 mg potassium, and 34 g carbohydrate.
Dried cherries – 1/3 cup of dried cherries has 140 calories, 230 mg potassium, and 34 g carbohydrate.
Dates – one Medjool date has 66 calories and 18 g carbohydrate.
Figs – two dried Turkish figs have 120 calories and 28 g carbohydrate.
Questions or comments? Check out our RunBuzz community, and start a discussion with other runners on natural food options for fueling or other topics of interest.
Chapel is a recreational runner and hockey player who enjoys learning and writing about sports nutrition. She is currently working on her MPH (Nutrition) with Liberty University and serves in the U.S. Army Reserve as a chaplain in Columbus, OH.