Spring and summer are peak season for outdoor runs, from 5ks to marathons. Training for a run like that takes a lot of physical work – hours pounding the pavement, cross-training in the gym, yoga and stretching – but it’s not just the way you exercise that impacts your progress. What you eat is just as important.

Whether you’re training for a marathon or some other kind of competition, or you’re just working out to keep healthy, fueling yourself with healthy, whole foods is key to success. That’s why we teamed up with chartered physiotherapist and elite sports performance expert Oliver Finlay to create a kit full of essentials for the everyday athlete.




Here, registered dietitian & nutrition consultant Mana Bayanzadeh gives us the details on how his choices can help you achieve your best results possible from your workouts.

Hemp hearts:

Try these healthy nutty flavoured hemp seeds to boost the protein content of your pre and post workout meals/snacks! In terms of its nutrition content, 1 serving of hemp hearts, which is equal to 3 tablespoons or 30 grams has 170 calories, 10 grams of protein, 3 grams of fibre and only 1 gram of sugar! Hemp hearts are also a great source of magnesium, which is an important mineral that can help for soothing sore muscles! There are many ways that you can incorporate hemp hearts into your diet including eating them like seeds; adding them to salads or roasted vegetables like yam, or sprinkling them on cereals, oatmeal or yogurt! Another way is adding these protein packed seeds to your smoothie! Best storage method is keeping them in the fridge.


Avocados are a member of the Lauraceae family and rich in heart healthy fats (mostly mono-unsaturated)! The nutritional profile of this fruit is quite remarkable with 240 calories, 10 grams of fibre and 1/4 of your daily needs of vitamin C in ¾ of an avocado. Did you know that Vitamin C can help with collagen building, which keeps your tendons and ligaments strong? Avocados are also a good source of magnesium that help sooth muscles & very high in potassium. Try using avocado as a spread on your sandwiches instead of butter/mayonnaise or slice them and add to salads. Avocados can also be a rich creamy addition to your smoothies!


One serving (28 grams or 23 whole kernels) of these nutritious nuts provide 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fibre and a little shy of 40% of your vitamin E needs! Almonds are also a good source of mono-unsaturated fats in addition to magnesium, potassium and calcium (much of which are lost through sweating). Almonds can be eaten raw or, made into almond butter or bars. The best way to enjoy almonds, however, is raw as heating almonds can oxidize some of their fats! Almonds make a great snack before workouts – combine with a fast digesting carbohydrate foods like fruit. For muscle recovery and repair, eating adequate protein soon after your workout is a must! Timing depends of type and intensity of training. Often anywhere between 15-30 grams of protein is recommended post workout (though the amount of protein needs to be individualized). To obtain this level of protein, you can combine almonds with other protein sources. For example, ¾ cup Greek yogurt (18 grams of protein) plus 1 serving of almonds (6 grams of protein) adding up to a total of 26 grams. Don’t forget to pair with complex carbs to refill carbohydrate stores!


This dark green, leafy vegetable has an impressive nutritional profile. It’s a good source of calcium and unlike some other calcium rich vegetables like spinach, the calcium in kale is actually bio-available, meaning its absorbed well. Probably most impressive of all is the vitamin K content of kale, providing 700% of your needs in only 1 cup. Vitamin K has a crucial role in healthy blood clotting as well as an important factor in bone health. Kale can be used in salad and stir-fries or added to your high protein omelette dish. Kale chips can also make a great snack – pair it with healthy fats like olive oil or eat with nuts/seeds. Why? Fat helps with the absorption of vitamin K! In terms of performance, it appears that a low vitamin K intake may relate to a high bone turnover in athletes.

Sweet Potatoes:

Sweet potatoes are low in calories and have an outstanding nutrition profile! They are one of the richest sources of a powerful antioxidant- beta-carotene, an excellent source of Vit C (aiding in muscle recovery; protecting cells from damage) and a good source of Iron (important for athletes in terms of oxygen production during a workout)! ½ cup (125 ml) of cooked sweet potatoes contains 2 grams of protein, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 3.5 grams of fibre, 21 mg of vitamin C, and 12 mg of beta-carotene.  An ideal post-workout meal should consist of carbohydrates, protein and moderate/low amounts of fat. Pairing your protein choice with sweet potatoes would be an excellent choice. Sweet potatoes have a low glycemic index (lower than yams). This means that the carbohydrate in sweet potatoes is released more slowly into the bloodstream. In terms of how to eat sweet potatoes – you can have them raw as veggie sticks with a hummus dip or baked, grilled or steamed! Sweet potato fries are an all-time favourite. Just cut into thin slices, drizzle with olive oil, add seasoning and bake in the oven!

Chicken or Salmon :

Chicken is a source of high-quality protein as well as an excellent source of heme-iron, and Vitamin B12. To get these benefits mentioned and even more, including omega-3 fatty acids, swap with Salmon!  In terms of athlete performance, protein, Iron and Vit B12 are all extremely important. Skinless chicken breasts contain 27 grams (per half breast), while 3 oz of fish fillet have around 20-22 grams of protein. This amount of protein can be ideal for muscle repair and recovery as a post workout meal, paired with carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and some healthy fats like avocado or olive oil. Adequate Iron is critical for athletes as the role of Iron is to carry oxygen to active muscles. Inadequate Iron intake can result in fatigue and low motivation. Lastly, Vitamin B12 has an important role in athlete performance as B vitamins are required for the release of energy in the body, as well as tissue building and repair & for healthy red blood cells!


Your body needs carbs to fuel your muscles for a workout. Bananas are a good source of carbohydrate. When taken before exercise, they provide glucose (sugar) into your bloodstream which is used by muscles for energy. After a workout, rebuilding glycogen stores is necessary as they are the muscles’ main energy source. Hence, bananas can also be a great post-workout snack. Pair with a high protein choice like nut butters, Greek yogurt or cottage cheese for muscle repair after a workout. This fruit is one of the richest sources of potassium. One of the roles of potassium is maintaining the body’s water balance. Also, potassium aids in the conversion of blood sugar into glycogen.  In addition to the above, bananas are a great source of fibre and vitamin B6. You can through bananas into your smoothie for extra creaminess, especially if you have over-ripe bananas on your kitchen counter. Did you know that over-ripe bananas have a higher content of anti-oxidant than un-ripe bananas and are also higher in simple sugars? This makes them an excellent workout snack. Don’t throw them out!


Carrots can be part of a healthy snack for athletes. They can be enjoyed raw –for example pair hummus with carrot sticks as a quick and healthy snack. They can also be a great addition to salads or cooked in different ways as part of a meal like adding to your omelette. In terms of their nutrition content, carrots are an excellent source of the beta-carotene- a disease fighting anti-oxidant. These bright orange coloured vegetables are also a great source of fibre and vitamin K. Both anti-oxidants and vitamin K are important for athlete performance. Anti-oxidants aid in protecting your body’s cells from damage and vitamin K has a crucial role in healthy blood clotting as well as an important factor in bone health. The great thing about these root vegetables is that when stored properly, they will remain fresh for weeks and even longer! The key is to minimize moisture loss in carrots. For storage, wrap in a plastic bag and store in the fridge. Do not store with certain fruits and vegetables that release ethylene gas like apples, pears and potatoes as they can result is faster spoilage of carrots.


New to Spud? Use the code ATHLETEBOX to get $25 off!




Oliver Finlay – www.oliverfinlay.com

Oliver is an innovative Chartered Physiotherapist & has worked in elite sport since 1998. His undergraduate physiotherapy education (BSc Hons) & experiential learning has been supplemented with an MSc in Sports Physiotherapy, an MSc in Exercise Physiology & a Diploma in Sports Massage. This has given him a broad understanding of the roles of various disciplines in addition to a wide aspect of human performance parameters which can be evaluated, optimised, researched or introduced to maximise athlete potential. Oliver is a member of the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Sports Medicine with Gold level accreditation.



Mana Bayanzadeh – www.FitWithFood.ca

As a Registered Dietitian & Nutrition Consultant with a Master’s degree in Public Health, I am passionate about helping people achieve optimal health through nutrition and fitness considering their individual lifestyles. I’ve worked in various areas of nutrition and with a variety of clients. My philosophy is simple: adopting a ‘real food’ approach to eating. Personally, I mostly eat a plant-based diet and focus on whole foods.

SPUD has been delivering local and organic groceries in Vancouver and the lower mainland for the past 20 years, and now services Vancouver Island, Calgary, and Edmonton as well!

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