What to Eat Before Running

This is the age old question that has been asked by many runners who might be new to the sport or might simply be looking for a way to fine tune their training diet. This article doesn’t highlight any super food as the silver bullet to your training needs. However, it helps you identify the perfect snack for your pre run sessions.

What to Eat Before Running

Did you know that your body has an adequate amount of glycogen stored up in the muscles from your regular diet to run at a marathon pace for up to two hours? The implication of this is that you need not load up on carbohydrates and calories prior to a training session. This is an error many runners make time and again.

General Rule

  • For a small easy run, eat a snack 30 to 90 minutes before you run. A snack of 100-200 calories is all you’ll need to keep off hunger and give your blood sugar levels a boost.
  • For a long run/harder workout, which will take you more than 90 minutes, you need a solid meal to provide that extra fuel. A medium sized snack 30-120 minutes before going for your run is recommended.
  • For morning runners, the point to note is that as one wakes up, they are coming off 6 to 8 hours of not eating. This should not be a problem unless one is planning for a long run/hard work out.
  • Whether you are engaged in a short or long workout, you need to keep in mind that your body needs foods that are easily digestible. Avoid fatty as well as high fiber foods that sit in the stomach and take a long time to digest. The ideal food should have a good mix of simple as well as complex carbohydrates with a blend of protein.

Follow the above guideline and you answer the issue of what to eat before running. 

Pre –Run Snack Ideas

Below are small snacks:

  • Energy bars- A light meal that’s easy to digest.
  • Natural energy bars- A Granola bar is the way to go if you decide to go the natural route, but you should ideally go with a light carbs-filled snack.
  • Banana- Rich in potassium and carbs.
  • Oatmeal (small bowl) - White oatmeal is ideal as it is rich in fiber. It’s ideal for runners who cannot eat before running, but could do with a snack to sustain them.

You may also eat the following foods which are medium snacks prior to your run:

  • Bread with peanut butter- You get a dose of complex carbohydrates from the bread, and a dose of protein and fat from the peanut butter all of which fill you up without weighing you down.
  • Smoothie- A blend of fresh or frozen fruit, milk or juice and flax meal or wheat germ is also ideal for those who get nauseous during a morning run after eating a solid meal, or those who have a low appetite during the morning. A smoothie also rehydrates after a night of sleep.
  • Yogurt with honey and granola- The combination you need to work with here is one half cup of yoghurt, a teaspoon of honey and two tablespoons of granola. Yoghurt is easy to digest whilst honey and granola provide for simple and complex carbohydrates.

Drink Water Is Also Important!

With regard to what to eat before running, there are a few tips that many workout gurus swear by. To prevent muscle cramps get enough fluid before exercising – drink some 16 to 20 ounces 45 minutes before exercising, drink some 2 to 3 ounces every 15 minutes during exercise, eat a diet rich in vegetables and fruit that hold a lot of water.

When to Eat Before Running

When it comes to timing your pre-run meals, you’d do well to keep in mind that the optimal time is a matter of personal preference. To find out what works well for you, eat a mid-sized snack 90 minutes before your run. If your stomach holds well, push the snack 15-20 minutes ahead. If this doesn’t settle well with your system, push back some 15-20 minutes. Continue to do this until you get the perfect balance - something that actually works for you.

The golden rule in all this is that the harder you have to run, the further you will have to push your meal. Similarly, the larger the meal, the further back you will need to push back your meal.

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