Preparation is essential for runners of all levels. Fueling your run properly reduces tiredness and speeds up recovery. Not knowing the right food to eat before running, on the other hand, might trigger stomach pains or the dreaded “wall” – a phenomenon in which energy levels collapse.
Here are some tips for fueling your run with the correct foods and snacks.
Food to Eat Before Running
It’s critical to fuel yourself three to four hours ahead of time, especially if you’re a distance runner. Distance running competitions include the 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) run, the half-marathon (21 km or 13.1-mile run), and the marathon (42 km or 26.2-mile run). A pre-run breakfast becomes less crucial if you are jogging for less than 60-90 minutes. The pre-run meal has two functions. The first is to protect you from feeling hungry before and throughout your run, and the second is to keep your blood sugar levels ideal for your exercising muscles. The meal should be heavy in carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and low in slow-digesting substances, primarily fat and fiber. Drink 17-20 ounces (500-590 ml) of water with your pre-run meal to be properly hydrated (2Trusted Source).
Here is a list of some food to eat before running:
- Five scrambled egg whites and one whole egg on white bread with jelly and a banana.
- 1 cup (225 grams) of low-fat cottage cheese, 1 cup (150 grams) of blueberries, and 1 slice of white bread with 1 tablespoon of honey.
- 30 grapes and one medium-sized white bagel with two slices of deli turkey and mustard (if wanted).
- 1 medium baked potato with sour cream and 3 ounces (85 grams) grilled chicken breast served with a dinner bun.
1 cup (200 g) cooked pasta, 1/2 cup (130 g) marinara sauce, 3 ounces (85 g) chicken breast, and a piece of lightly buttered bread.
Foods to avoid include:
Heavy sauces and creams, fried dishes, or foods made with a lot of butter or oil are examples of high-fat foods.
High-fiber diets include whole grains, legumes, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower.
Distance runners should have a meal that is readily digested and absorbed by the body three to four hours before a race or training session. A pre-run breakfast should be heavy in carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and low in fat and fiber.
A pre-run snack eaten 30-60 minutes before the race gives your body rapid nourishment.
It is only required to consume a pre-run snack if you want to run for more than 60 minutes, but it is also OK if you wish to do so regardless of the length of your run.
It has the same effect as a pre-run meal in terms of suppressing hunger and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
A pre-run snack is mostly composed of carbohydrates and has far fewer calories than a pre-run meal.
Keep the snack modest, as exercising when full might cause indigestion, nausea, and vomiting (2Trusted Source).
Pre-run food ideas include:
- A fruit, such as a banana or an orange
- a quarter of a sports energy bar
- 1/2 English muffin with honey or jelly
- 15 crackers (saltines or pretzels)
- 1/2 cup dry cereal
Drink 5-10 ounces (150-295 ml) of water in addition to your pre-run snack to stay hydrated (2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source).
Limit the same items that you would limit in a pre-run meal, such as those heavy in fat and fiber.
You should also avoid dairy products, especially if you don’t know how you react to them. Milk is used to make dairy products, which include the sugar lactose.
Consuming too much lactose can cause gastrointestinal irritation in some people, such as bloating, gas, or diarrhea.
Lactose-containing foods include milk, cheese, butter, and cream. Yogurt is a dairy product, however, it is tolerated better since it contains less lactose.
A pre-run snack should mostly consist of readily digested carbohydrates such as fruit or crackers. It may be preferable to avoid dairy items before a run, depending on how you tolerate them.
INTRA RUN SNACKS
Within one to two hours of jogging, your glycogen reserves might be exhausted (9Trusted Source).
Glycogen is a stored type of glucose, or blood sugar, on which your body draws when it requires extra energy.
To refuel and postpone exhaustion, take 30-60 grams of carbohydrates every hour, spaced 15-20 minutes apart, for runs lasting more than 90 minutes.
An intra-run snack might consist of:
- Sports drinks: This includes electrolytes, which you lose via perspiration, as well as a high percentage of carbohydrates, which help you regain energy.
- Energy gels: These concentrated carb sources contain sugar as well as additional substances such as electrolytes or caffeine. They are sold in single-serve disposable packets.
Energy bars are heavy in carbohydrates and low in protein. Protein aids in muscle recovery and rebuilding.
- Other snacks: Dried fruit, honey packets, gummy bears, and other candies restore energy equally as well as their more expensive equivalents.
Whatever intra-run food you choose, be sure it is something you can carry with you on your run or will be available to you throughout a race.
You should also drink water throughout the race, depending on how much you sweat. Drink 17-34 ounces (500-1,000 ml) of water per hour (2Trusted Source).
However, avoid over-hydrating. If you have 8 ounces (240 ml) of a sports drink in an hour, do not consume an additional 17-34 ounces (500-1,000 ml) of water.
To avoid weariness on longer runs than 90 minutes, refuel with carbohydrate beverages, gels, bars, or other easy choices.
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Running After Eating
Eating a huge lunch before a run might cause cramps and stomach issues. It might also make you feel lethargic when running.
It is often suggested to wait 3 to 4 hours after a substantial meal before running.
Wait at least 30 minutes, ideally 1 to 2 hours, after eating a light meal or snack before going for a run.
Remember that everyone is unique. You could have more energy if you take a tiny snack before going for a run, or you might not have any difficulty if you eat a meal before working out.
What are some healthy foods to eat before running?
A modest lunch is considered healthy food to eat before running. It will help you get through your run with plenty of energy while keeping your blood sugar levels stable. What you eat may differ depending on when you generally go for a run.
If you run in the morning, you might not have enough time to have breakfast before you go. However, your body has most likely not had any additional meals since the night before.
That is why it is essential to consume a small snack or breakfast 30 to 60 minutes before leaving the house. Choose carbs and protein-rich meals.
If you go for a morning run, consider the following snacks:
- A banana topped with a spoonful of nut butter
- Energy bar or granola bar with minimal fat
- A little amount of yogurt and fruit
- Smoothie with fruits
- Whole-wheat bagel
If you run at midday, have a big breakfast 3 to 4 hours beforehand. Then, 1 to 2 hours before running, these are some healthy foods to eat:
- A serving of cereal or oatmeal
- A nut butter sandwich in half
- A light smoothie
- A handful of nuts (cashews, pistachios, almonds)
Late afternoon or Evening Run
If you run in the late afternoon or evening, you may feel hungry and fatigued after lunch if you did not consume a pre-workout snack to keep you going until supper.
This is especially true if you don’t expect to eat until late due to your exercise.
1 to 2 hours before your evening run, the following are possible foods to eat:
- Cheese stick with crackers
- Energy bar or granola bar with reduced fat
- A nut butter and jelly sandwich in half
How to Avoid Nausea While Running
During or after a strenuous workout, you may suffer nausea or vomiting. Nausea in runners can develop for a variety of causes, including:
- Decreased digestion
Drink plenty of water when jogging to minimize nausea, especially on hot days. It’s also critical to properly cool down after a run so your body has time to acclimatize.
Eating a modest snack 30 minutes before or shortly after jogging may help avoid or alleviate nausea.
Is it okay to drink water while running?
Runners should drink plenty of water, especially on hot days. To avoid dehydration and stay safe when jogging, follow these guidelines:
- Drink 2–3 cups (473–710 mL) of water 2–3 hours before your workout.
- During your run, drink 1/2 to 1 cup (118 to 237 mL) of water every 15 to 20 minutes. You may need extra depending on your body size and the temperature.
- After your run, drink 2 to 3 glasses of water for every pound (0.5 kilos) of weight loss. Weight reduction shortly after a run indicates that you’ve shed water weight.
A sports drink is a good choice for runs lasting more than an hour. Sports drinks may aid recovery by maintaining electrolyte balance and giving energy from carbs.
What are some good snacks to eat during a run?
For runs under an hour, you’ll likely simply need water — or a sports drink — during your workout.
For runs longer than an hour or particularly strenuous activity, you should consume carbohydrates, such as a sports drink or energy gel, for every hour you run for more than 75 minutes.
Experiment with different options to see what works best for you on lengthy runs.
On longer runs of more than an hour, some runners may have half an energy gel, two energy chews, or a few energy beans every 30 minutes. After that, drink plenty of water.