What to Eat Before Running

Food is your friend when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle and getting the most from your workouts.

Planning ahead and making sure you eat before a run is important and it gives you the fuel that you need to get the results you want. If your an early bird that likes to run in the morning, you still need to make sure you eat something before your feet hit the pavement. Water and carbohydrates are key to maximizing the performance of your run. The amount will depend on the duration and intensity of the run that you have planned. Foods with little to no fat and fiber will ensure quick digestion and prevent you from feeling too bloated or full when running. Consuming a little protein for intense workouts is also a good idea.

 

There are 2 time frames that we focus on when planning meals before a run

  1. 30 to 60 minutes - here we focus on whole foods, small snacks or energy bars
  2. 0 to 30 minutes - liquids, shakes and gel packs digest even faster making them great for last minute meals

 

Great pre-run foods to eat 30 to 60 minutes before you start training

Effort Level: Moderate to High

Carbohydrate Target: 15 to 35 grams

  • Fruits - Natures candy are great for hydration, vitamins and natural sugar carbohydrates (listed below for medium sized fruit)
    • Banana ~ 27 grams
    • Apple ~ 25 grams
    • Orange ~ 21 grams
    • Kiwis (2x) ~ 22 grams
    • Pomegranate (half) ~ 27 grams
  • Luna Bars ~ 27 grams (Lemon Zest and Iced Oatmeal Raisin are our favorites!)
  • Half whole wheat turkey sandwich~ 25 to 30 grams

Great pre-run foods to eat 30 to 60 minutes before you start training

Effort Level: High to People are Staring...

Carbohydrate Target: 20 to 45 grams

     

  • Greek Yogurt + 1/2 cup of berries + 1 tbsp honey ~ 45 grams
  • Half banana and peanut butter sandwich ~ 35 grams
  • Oatmeal (1 cup) ~ 30 grams
  • Cliff Bars ~ 45 grams

 

Great pre-run foods to eat 0 to 30 minutes before you start training

Effort Level: Moderate to High

Carbohydrate Target: 15 to 35 grams

*Rinsing and spitting a sports drink like Gatorade is a great way to maintain energy levels while running without upsetting your stomach. It's kind of fun too!

 

  • Gel packs - GU Energy and Gatorade Prime Chews both provide about 25 grams
  • Gatorade ~ 21 grams per 8 oz
  • Coconut Water ~ 11 grams
  • Vita Coco Cafe ~ 20 grams (A new one to try plus it has a shot of espresso in it!)
  • Half scoop protein power, 1 TBSP honey and water ~ 17 grams

 

Other Rules of the Road

  1. Hydration is key! - Drinking water throughout the day is important but it's crucial before, during and after working out. 
  2. Experiment - Find what foods or drinks work best for you and your body. There is no one size fits all pre-run recipe for success.
  3. Focus on carbs and a little protein if your training sessions are intense.
  4. If your eating whole foods target that 30 to 60 minute window and consume low fiber, low fat foods.
  5. Caffeine can give a little boost and reduce fatigue during your run but it's not a substitute for water and carbs.  
  6. If you run first thing in the morning, you still need to eat a little something before you start your run.