In a new study, researchers found that men and women ran 5Ks six percent faster after following a Mediterranean diet for four days than they did after eating the Western way for the same amount of time. Adopting the diet in the long-term would likely have even greater effects.
The typical Western diet is high in processed foods and animal fats, neither of which help performance. Meanwhile, Mediterranean menus prioritize vegetables, which put your body in a slightly alkaline state, thereby delaying lactic acid buildup and muscle fatigue during intense workouts, explains study author Ted Weiss, Ph.D., professor of nutrition at Saint Louis University in Missouri.
Plus, produce ups your nitrate count and in turn, the amount of blood and oxygen that reaches your working muscles.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Going Mediterranean for at least four days before a race (of any distance) will help you run faster. Focus on eating more fruits and vegetables and fewer animal fats, Weiss says.