It’s something all runners think about. What should I eat before running? The fact of the matter is, it depends. Every runner is different and as much as we wish everyone was a one size fits all when it comes to eating before a workout, that is not the case.
Should you eat before a morning run?
Most people would say you should eat before a morning run (or any run for that matter). Running like any exercise is going to require energy. You need to fuel your workout so you don’t crash or feel weak. Eating is not just fuel for the run, but is also important for your overall health. This is one of many reasons you shouldn’t ignore your diet and nutrition.
Figuring out how feed your body for running is great to figure out before race day. Your daily runs and pre-race training is the time to experiment to see what works best for you. This will help you perform your best in a 5K race, 10K race, half or full marathon when the time comes.
What to Eat Before A Run
Carbs will be your main source of fuel and will be essential to power your run, but don’t forget to mix in a little fat and protein as well. Go for complex carbs if it is more than 2 hours before your run. If you are less than an hour before your run, reach for simple carbs like fruit. Don’t forget to drink some water to hydrate and fight fatigue.
- A banana with peanut butter
- A bagel or whole wheat toast
- A bowl of Oatmeal with fruit
- Energy bar (high quality)
- Sweet potato
- Whole grain crackers with hummus
- A small bowl of cereal
- Handful of cashews
You want to have a nice balance of foods in your diet. Carb loading can be a good idea the day before a long race, but you need a mixture of fruits, vegetables, complex carbs, fat and protein. What you put into you body on a daily basis will effect your ongoing running performance.
Find What Works for Your Body
Beginning your running journey comes with lots of new information. Sometimes it can seem overwhelming. Sometimes the information can be contradictory or based on particular point of view such as load up on your carbs, eat protein, fuel with fat. Some will say drink water others will warn to not over hydrate.
The reality is that you are not the same as every other runner. You need to find what works for you, not what works for someone else. Experiment your foods. The best place to start is with the foods you already enjoy that fit into the guidelines mentioned above. It is also a good idea to pay attention to your portions and adjust accordingly. It is all about finding the balance and finding out which foods will give you the best energy for your runs.
Drinking Water is a Must
I know this post is about what to “eat” before you run, but drinking water is must prior to your run. Don’t drink so much that you have a gallon of water swishing around in your belly. I can assure you that won’t help at all, but make sure that you do drink the appropriate amount of water. Hydrating a couple hours before you run and then drinking 8 to 12 oz 30 minutes before you go will help a lot. This will help prevent cramps that come from electrolyte being out of balance.
What Foods to Avoid Before a Run
What not to eat is just as important as what to eat. Avoid foods that are high in fat, fiber, and protein right before start your run. Eating those foods can cause cramping or tiredness. You want your body fueled for running, not spending energy on digestion your food while you run. Be careful with too much coffee as it may have you running for the bathroom instead of for the road. Here’s a short list of foods to avoid:
- Beans and legumes
- High-fiber veggies (carrots, broccoli)
- High-fiber fruits (apples)
- Cheese and fatty meats