What To Eat Before, During And After A Run: A Nutritional Guide For Runners


Have you ever wondered what athletes eat that enables them to run fast? Should you run while you’re full? Or aspiring to become a famous athlete someday and compete on the racetrack? Then you need to follow a certain diet of Camille Herron, an ultrarunner, record-holder, and a world champion. 

Herron claims she never runs empty. She said that eating breakfast before her runs helps against the production of cortisol release every time people wake. This is highly supported by scientific studies that suggest that breakfast skippers have higher cortisol levels compared to breakfast eaters. 

When And What Should I Eat Before Running?

Eating before running will help you speed up recovery after a run and minimize fatigue. It will keep you from feeling hungry before and during your run and it will also maintain your blood sugar at optimal levels. 

However, eating the wrong foods or not eating at all may cause stomach cramps, or may cause your energy levels to drop abruptly while running. While you may ask your local pharmacy or visit online pharmacy Malaysia for treatment, you can prevent these symptoms by mitigating the problem from the roots and fueling up before a run.

Essentially, if you are a distance runner, you have to take a meal three to four hours before the run. Fueling up is essential if you go for a 10-kilometer (6.2 miles) run, a half marathon (13.1 miles), or a marathon (26.2 miles).

For some instance, if you run for short distances, a pre-run meal may be unnecessary. 

The ideal food to eat prior to running should be high in carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and as much as possible, avoid foods that are high in fiber and fat content.

It is also a prerequisite to drink approximately 17-20 ounces of water together with the pre-run meal for adequate hydration.

Some pre-run meal variations that you can mix, and match include:

  • One bagel with two slices of deli turkey and 30 grapes
  • Baked potato and three ounces of grilled chicken breast
  • One cup of low-fat cottage cheese with blueberries and toast
  • Five scrambled eggs and white toasts with jelly and banana 
  • One cup cooked pasta topped with marinara sauce and three ounces of chicken breast

When And What Should I Eat During A Long Run?

Eating during a run is a requisite to replenish your energy. Usually, it is recommended to refuel every 30 to 45 minutes during distance runs. 

However, setting a time for eating must take into account the locations of drinking fountains and bathrooms since there are foods that necessitate you to drink water while other foods can disrupt your stomach’s balance. 

Your food choices for a long-distance run are limitless. Some of your options include, and are not limited to the following:

  • Sports drink – a great way to replenish lost carbohydrates and electrolytes during sweating.
  • Solid energy food – you can foods that are easy to carry and digestible like energy bars, sports jellybeans, and gummy chews. 
  • Gel packets – these are ideally designed for running and keeps you on track of your calorie intake. 
  • Real Food – like other runners, you can simply have sugary candies and pretzels and gummy bears

When And What Should I Eat After A Long Run?

Whenever you go for a distance run, your glycogen reserves, as well as water and electrolytes, deplete. Hence, it is important to eat nutrient-dense foods, 30 minutes after a long run.

  • Beans, oats, barley, brown rice, or potatoes have complex carbohydrates to restore your glycogen reserves and avoid the loss of muscle. 
  • Water or sports drink to replenish lost electrolytes, sodium, and potassium.
  • Eat protein-rich foods like eggs, chicken, or fish to give you essential amino acids for muscle building. 

Should I Run On An Empty Stomach?

The short answer is – it depends. Some professional runners that usually run in the morning prefer not to have a meal before the run. But anyhow, running on an empty stomach depends on your workout routine, body, and workout goals. 

Running on an empty stomach comes with both advantages and disadvantages. Some of its advantages include:

  • Prevention of upset stomach – Some people feel nauseated if they have food or fluids inside their stomach during every run. Hence, running on an empty stomach may prevent going for a bathroom break. Generally, it is safe to have a low-intensity run for about an hour without consuming any calories. 
  • Improved performance – Some research suggests that running without fuel (food) may improve your running performance. If you alternately do running on an empty stomach, you may observe an improvement in your performance when the actual day of the marathon comes. 

The disadvantages include:

  • May lead to muscle loss – Primarily, the stress of running may cause your body to prompt cortisol production which causes muscle breakdown. Additionally, running empty directs your body to use the stored glycogen in the muscles making you lose muscle mass. 
  • Reduced fat-burning – Running empty may require you to run at a lower intensity, which causes you to not burn much of the fat. If your goal is to burn fat, then, you need high-intensity exercises to burn extra calories. 
  • Can lead to overeating – Not eating before a run will make your body crave more calories even after the workout. To make up for the depletion of energy after running, your body will make you feel very hungry to cope up with the losses. 

Do You Need Supplements?

Ideally, you do not need supplements to be at your best when running. Most of the runners get all their nutrients from the food they eat. So long as you eat a nutrient-dense diet, supplements can be taken away from the equation. 

Runners mostly need calories, fluids, carbohydrates, protein, fat, and vitamins, and minerals. All these macro and micronutrients can be manufactured from the food that you take in every day. 

If you wish to make sure that you have no deficiencies in your diet, you can ask a sports nutritionist for an assessment. 

Foods To Avoid

Here are some foods that you need to avoid, to get the best out of your running sessions:

  • Sodas
  • Dairy products
  • Frozen meals
  • Energy drinks
  • Alcohol
  • Energy drinks 
  • Spicy food
  • Oily and fatty food

The Bottom Line

As a rule of thumb, everything that is lost during an activity must be immediately replenished.

You must eat nutrient-dense foods to keep you going from the first day of your workout till you achieve your goal. Finally, ask for professional help whenever you’re quite unsure of what to do.

You can view the original article HERE.

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