Diversify Your Food Choices to Support Your Run
What is dietary diversity and why is it important?
As a runner, you need quality nutrition from diverse foods to help boost your performance. Dietary diversity is a measure of the number of individual food groups consumed in a given reference period. A food group is a collection of different foods that share similar nutritional properties. A well-balanced diverse diet with the basic food groups helps you in getting all the key nutrients to maintain optimal health and performance.1
How to achieve dietary diversity?
A food pyramid can help you achieve the required dietary diversity by explaining the 6 food groups and ways to get them. As an athlete, your activity levels will be much higher than others and you need additional quantities of the nutrients. Hence, you need to ensure that you replenish your stores regularly. The following figure explains the major food groups that can be included in your regular diet:
Food Guide Pyramid2
These layers make up the base of the pyramid. Fruits and vegetables contain a variety of nutrients and antioxidants, and they are a good source of fibre.
These food groups provide you with key nutrients like calcium, protein and other vitamins and minerals. Lean meat and legumes are the major sources of protein.
Choose foods that contain healthy fats such as unsaturated fats (e.g., fish and nuts). Limit the amount of saturated fats you consume.2,3
Tips on achieving a diverse diet
Balance your macronutrients by having a mix of carbohydrates, proteins and fats at each meal.
Try to choose a varied diet from the range of food groups such as vegetables, fruits, cereals, meat and fish every day.
Go for healthy fats by eating foods such as avocado, nuts and fish.
Aim to have at least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables each day. Fresh fruits are an excellent, portable and nutritious snack option. They are also a rich source of vitamins and minerals.
Add a range of colourful and seasonal fruits and vegetables to your diet.1-4
Fuel your body with the right nutrition by choosing a diverse diet every day to support your performance. Get, set, go!
United Nations System Standing Committee on Nutrition. Fact sheets on Food and Nutrition Security Indicators/Measures: Dietary Diversity (DD). Rome, Italy: United Nations System Standing Committee on Nutrition; 2008.
Swiss forum for sports nutrition. Zurich, Swiss: Swiss society for nutrition; 2009.
Nestle. Choose portion perfect ideas. New Zealand, Australia: Nestle; 2016.
Australian Institute of Sport. Current Concepts in Sports Nutrition. Bruce, Australia: Australian Institute of Sport; 2016.