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4 Small Diet Tweaks That Can Improve Your Health

These tiny diet tweaks can make a big difference in your overall health and performance.

Optimize Your Gut Health

“Due to the miles and work demand runners put on their bodies, there is a high likelihood of increased cortisol (stress hormones), and suppressed stomach acid (due to running). If gut health is impaired due to stress, then no matter how many nutrients you eat, you still won’t get the maximized benefits. Boost your gut health (and support lower stress) by adding one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to two to four oz. of water with meals, consuming one to two condiment-sized servings of probiotic fermented foods (such as sauerkraut, low-sugar kombucha, fermented veggies) each day and incorporating pre-biotic foods (such as green-tipped bananas and plantains, cooked and cooled potatoes or sweet potatoes, leeks, garlic and onions) into your diet.” —Lauryn Lax, O.T.D., N.T.P., functional medicine practitioner, founder of Thrive Wellness and Recovery

Have A Small Protein Snack Before Bed

“By eating a protein snack like a hard-boiled egg or a cheese stick, women can avoid the insulin dip and resulting cortisol spike that is often the cause of middle-of-the-night waking. Eating protein before bed is especially important for those women who partake in ‘the evening wine down,’ as the protein helps balance the alcohol sugars in the wine as it metabolizes. Better sleep is the foundation for better health and running performance.” —Karen Shopoff Rooff, certified personal trainer, women’s wellness coach at Balance Personal Fitness Training

Enjoy Fatty Fish At Least Twice A Week

“Fatty fish like salmon, trout, mackerel and sardines are a rich source of protein and omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats block pro-inflammatory pathways, and protect the heart, brain and joints. If you don’t like fish, consider a fish oil capsule with one gram of DHA and EPA daily to reap the benefits of omega-3 fats.” —Edwina Clark, R.D., C.S.S.D., head of nutrition and wellness at Yummly

Watch Your (Hidden) Sugar Intake

“Cutting back on sugar can make a big difference, especially in the way that you feel, which in turn will boost your running. Choose whole milk over skim milk—although you may take in a few extra calories (really, only a few!), low-fat and skim milk have higher sugar content and are more processed. Also, look at the nutrition label: If it has more than eight grams of sugar or more sugar than fiber, pass it up for another option. The biggest culprits of hidden sugar are bread and pasta sauces.” —Arianne Perry, Olympic Trials qualifier track & field, wellness entrepreneur and co-founder of Sweet Defeat

Include Fresh Herbs In Your Meals

“Fresh herbs tune up your immunity and metabolism and support liver, kidney and digestive function. Purchase one fresh herb each week, or place a window herb box in your kitchen.” —Lisa C. Cohn, M.M.Sc., M.Ed., R.D., president of Park Avenue Nutrition

Related:

Diet Changes To Keep In Mind Through Every Decade

How The Ketogenic Diet Affects Running Performance

Do Runners Need More Antioxidants In Their Diets?

Bethany Mavis

Bethany Mavis is the managing editor of Triathlete magazine. She's a mom, rec soccer player, multiple half-marathon finisher and is learning daily how to become a better triathlete.