What to Eat Before A Run: Advice From a Nutritionist
Whether you’re a beginning, intermediate, or marathon runner, the right sports nutrition is essential if you want to fuel your best performance. There are certainly some do’s and don’ts that can help you run faster, improve your endurance, and recover more efficiently post-workout. This comprehensive nutrition guide gives you an overview of what you should eat before a run to feel great during your session. We’ll also give you some guidance on what you can eat during your run to keep you from hitting an energy wall as well as what to eat after your run to help replenish your energy supplies and speed up recovery time.
What to Eat Before Your Run
What you eat before a workout can have a positive influence on your running performance, but it can also really slow you down. Avoid foods that are high in fiber and fat before your workout. They are harder to digest and can upset your stomach. Plus, you should wait about three hours after having a large meal (focus on carbs and protein) before working out. Grab a small, low-fiber, high-carb snack 30 to 60 minutes before your run. You need about 30 to 60 g of carbohydrates per hour for intense workouts over 60 minutes or moderate sessions over 90 minutes. So refill your glycogen stores beforehand; it will give you the energy you need.
Good pre-run snacks (around 50 g of carbohydrates):
- two bananas
- two slices of toast with honey or jam
- two low-fiber granola bars
- 75 g of dried fruit (e.g. apricots)
Be careful not to experiment with new foods before your run. Stick with what you know you can digest easily. Also make sure you drink enough. In most cases water will give you what you need, but you can also hydrate with a good sports drink. If you don’t drink enough fluids before or during your workout, your performance will suffer. If you’re curious about how much you should be drinking to meet your individual liquid requirements, use our calculator to find out.
What to Eat During Your Run
Staying hydrated on a long run (more than one hour) is vital to avoid dehydration and exhaustion. A study conducted by the University of Connecticut confirmed that even minimal fluid loss (a body mass reduction of < 2%) can substantially impair your endurance and lead to dehydration.
Running more than 10 km? Fill up your reserves with an additional 600 to 1000 ml (20 to 34 oz) of water and/or electrolyte drinks per for every hour that you’re active.
Plus, make sure you also fill up your glycogen stores with carbs (30 to 60 grams per hour). Come prepared and bring energy gels or high-carb drinks when you hit the road.
DIY sports drinks for different activities:
- For moderate workouts (< 1 hour): 80 ml (3 oz) multivitamin syrup + 920 ml (31 oz) water + one pinch of table salt
- For intense workouts (> 1 hour): 70 ml (2 oz) fruit syrup + 930 ml (30 oz) mineral water (uncarbonated) + 20 g (4 tsp) maltodextrin + one pinch of table salt
What to Eat After A Run
Need to recharge your batteries after a demanding run? Get your energy back with a snack containing complex carbohydrates and protein (at a 3:1 ratio) within one hour after your run. This helps you refill your glycogen stores and boosts recovery. Careful, though: don’t eat too much – a big meal can upset your stomach and lead to nausea.
Perfect post-workout snacks:
Looking for more sports nutrition tips and recipes? Find more ideas to fuel your workouts on our blog.