For most of us, carbohydrates are synonymous with pasta, potatoes and other starched foods, or cakes, croissants and other pastries.
But we forget that fresh fruits and vegetables provide a large number of carbohydrates needed to run, without the unpleasant additives and side effects that weigh runners down on the asphalt and on the scale.
Let's compare a bagel and a banana - runners often choose one or the other before a race. A quick look at the number of calories: almost identical. Bagel seems to be a healthier choice: 180 calories, 36 g carbohydrates, 6 g sugar and 7 g protein for a plain bagel. Bananas contain 105 calories, with 27 g of carbohydrates, 14 g of sugar and 1.3 g of protein.
Let's take a closer look. Bananas contain many nutrients a runner needs, including vitamin B6 (which promotes the transformation of proteins and sugars into energy and is involved in cell development), magnesium (muscle contraction and energy metabolism, endurance and aerobic capacity) and potassium, which helps to avoid electrolyte imbalances that can cause cramps when you run. No similar nutrients to report in the bagel.
In recent years, researchers have discovered that fruits and vegetables have a protective capacity against the most common and serious chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
This doesn't mean you have to become a vegetarian, but eating lots of fruits and vegetables can help you to be healthy and not succumb to chronic diseases related to aging - or at least accepted as such in the collective imagination. They also provide high quality carbohydrates for your running outings.
It is true that bananas, apples and carrots are much less desirable than a crispy bagel with fresh cheese. Yet these fruits and vegetables provide as much energy, as well as essential nutrients and minerals that will help you recover better from a difficult session and protect you from chronic diseases such as stroke, heart disease and high blood pressure. If you can prevent these diseases, your weight and running goals will be within reach.
That said, some fruits and vegetables are better than others when you run. The ones you can eat with your skin on (apples, potatoes) contain a lot of fibre. The latter are excellent because they provide a feeling of satiety and strengthen the immune system. But if you plan to run in the next 60 minutes, avoid eating foods with more than 7 g of fibre per serving.
Below is a list of fruits and vegetables that are rich in good carbohydrates and nutrients. Eat seasonal fruits and vegetables. Those harvested before maturity in a country several thousand kilometres away contain much less nutrients, which they can also lose during their long journey (Argentine pears, broccoli from Spain) while recovering preservatives that are added to prevent them from being damaged during transport.
Regarding the benefits of fruits and vegetables, weight and sport are only the tip of the iceberg. A 2012 study concluded that they can reduce the risk of hypertension, heart disease and stroke and may even reduce the risk of cancer, prevent weight gain associated with type 2 diabetes and reduce the risk of eye disease, dementia, osteoporosis, asthma, COPD and rheumatoid arthritis.
NOT ALL FRUITS AND VEGETABLES ARE EQUAL
In recent years, fruit has not been so popular due to the popularity of low-carb diets and the discovery of the dangers of sugar. But the 23 g of sugar naturally present in an orange will not have the same effect on your body as the same amount of sugar added in (and on) a donut. Why? Why? In addition to sugar, fruit contains vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that prevent chronic diseases and strengthen the immune system, and water for proper hydration. In addition, the fibres present in the skin of fruits and vegetables are gradually digested; they do not cause the same peaks and energy drops as table sugar. These fibres strengthen your heart and improve the functioning of your gastrointestinal system. If you want to eat less sugar, eat less processed food with added sugars and eat fruit that is rich in nutrients and excellent for your health.
However, not all fruits and vegetables are equal. In most cases, it is better to eat them raw. A 100g serving of dried apple contains 49g of sugar and 209 calories, and you may not be satisfied. The same serving of raw apple contains only 52 calories and 11 g of sugar, but also provides water, fibre, vitamins and nutrients. Dried vegetables can contain a lot of added sugars and fats. Vegetable chip packets seem to be a healthier alternative to traditional aperitifs, but if you look at the nutritional values, you will see that this is not the case. If you want a salty crunch, cook!
THE CREAM OF THE CROP
What are the best fruits and vegetables? In 2014, researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranked them according to their nutritional density. The 47 fruits and vegetables on this list, classified according to the density of 17 nutrients (including iron, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid and vitamins B6, B12, C and K), would reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Watercress, a leafy vegetable very rich in antioxidants and vitamin K, is at the top of the list, followed by Chinese cabbage, chard, beetroot leaf, spinach, chicory, lettuce leaf, parsley, romaine lettuce and cavalier cabbage, turnip leaf, mustard leaf, mustard leaf, endive, chives, kale, dandelion leaf, red pepper, arugula, broccoli, pumpkin, Brussels sprouts, new onion, kohlrabi, cauliflower, cabbage and carrot.
Some foods have an effect on the nutrients in other foods. This is referred to as food synergy. Here are some complementary nutrients, which provide you with better benefits when consumed together.
Vitamin D + calcium Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, which strengthens bones and prevents fatigue fractures. For an average adult, it is recommended to consume 600 IU (international units) of vitamin D and 1000 mg of calcium per day.
Tips: Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt contain calcium, as do broccoli, kale and Chinese cabbage. Some foods, such as porridge, orange juice and cereals, are fortified with calcium. Vitamin D is found in salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, shrimp, mushrooms, egg yolk and enriched products such as some orange juices and breads.
Iron + vitamin C In addition to strengthening your immune system, vitamin C helps your body absorb iron. This is especially important if you are a vegetarian and only eat vegetable sources of iron (which are not absorbed as easily), such as lentils, chickpeas and black beans.
Tips: Tomatoes, broccoli, citrus fruits, leafy vegetables, strawberries and peppers are rich in vitamin C. Iron is found in beetroot leaves, kale, spinach, mustard seeds and iron-fortified cereals.
Monounsaturated fatty acids, such as those found in olive oil, avocado, nuts and almonds, lower cholesterol and the risk of heart disease and help the body absorb antioxidants and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) found in vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, peas, spinach and sweet potatoes.
Tips: Season your salads with olive oil, nuts, pistachios or grated cheese. Add olive oil to your pasta.
Protein + carbohydrates Protein promotes the development of muscle mass and a feeling of fullness and slows the absorption of sugar from carbohydrates by your body to avoid cravings. When you eat good carbohydrates from whole grains, fruits and vegetables, include protein with them, especially after training. According to one study, eating a carbohydrate-protein snack within 30-60 minutes of training promotes recovery (see Chapter 20).
Tips: Cereals with milk or an English biscuit topped with peanut butter contain carbohydrates and protein. Try an apple with cashew nut butter, a pita bread with hummus or a slice of wholemeal bread with tuna and honey-mustard vinaigrette.
COOK WHILE PRESERVING NUTRIENTS
The nutrients contained in these fruits and vegetables are often removed during cooking. Many vitamins, including water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), folic acid and vitamin B12 are sensitive to heat, air and even light (riboflavin). The longer you cook your fruits and vegetables, the more water you use, the higher the temperature and the more nutrients (and taste) you lose. Here are our tips for preserving the nutrients and flavours of your ingredients.
Eat raw Most of the time, you can eat these foods naturally, in the form of salads, smoothies or chews.
Be minimalist Choose a minimum cooking time, temperature and water quantity. Water releases water-soluble vitamins from food. The proof: observe the cooking water when your vegetables are cooked. If it is coloured, it is the water-soluble vitamins that have been extracted from the vegetables. To keep them, you can drink the cooking water in broth.
Steam Cooking Steaming is ideal for cooking vegetables while preserving essential nutrients. This is very good for courgettes and broccoli, which retain their precious antioxidants.
Boiling Boiling water can remove vitamins and minerals from some vegetables. If you cook them in boiling water, cover your pan to minimize cooking time. Use nutrient-rich cooking water in your sauces and soups.
Use microwave The microwaves have not always had a good image, but studies indicate that they are safe. Cooks use them because the cooking time is very short and very little water is required.
Sauté By quickly browning your vegetables over high heat in a little oil, you minimize nutrient loss. Vegetable juliennes are tasty.
Bake or roast This method allows some vegetables to retain or even boost their nutrients (artichokes, broccoli, asparagus, green beans, eggplant, corn, chard, spinach and peppers). Other vegetables lose their antioxidant power when exposed to high temperatures (Brussels sprouts, leeks, cauliflowers, peas, zucchini, onions, beans, celery, beets and garlic). Blanch the vegetables (without boiling the water) or eat them raw if possible.
Juice Juices and smoothies are a great way to eat raw fruits and vegetables, as long as they are made with healthy foods - they can sometimes be as high in calories as a milkshake. Juices can have health benefits, especially if you didn't eat many fruits and vegetables before. But some juice extractors do not incorporate nutrient-rich pulp and fibre. If you prefer a low-calorie smoothie, use whole fruits and vegetables (frozen if you like). Avoid adding honey, concentrated fruit juice, sweet yogurt, whole milk, cream or ice cream. The healthiest smoothies contain at least 2 servings of fruits and vegetables. For a salvaged smoothie, add a protein source such as whey protein powder, skim milk or Greek yogurt.
DIRECTIONS FOR USE
Evaluate your intake of fruits and vegetables: Think about your meals and snacks. How many fruits and vegetables do you eat regularly? Eat them at the right time. Avoid eating foods or drinking liquids with more than 7 g of fibre per serving if you plan to run within the next hour.
Add one serving of vegetables to one meal a day: You don't like vegetables? Cut them finely and add them to a tomato sauce. Mix them in a blender with ice cream, yogurt and milk for your smoothies.