What Should I Eat Before I Run? 15 Ideas to Fuel Your Best Running
What you eat and when you eat can have a huge impact on how you feel and how you run. Nutrition and hydration are so important to help you run your best, recover better, feel good and be able to keep going.
There are two key factors to consider when making your fuel plan – What to eat and When to eat. This is different for every body and will change as you run more or if you change your schedule.
How to Fuel Your Body to Run Your Best
- WHAT TO EAT – How long is the run? When was the last time you ate? How much fuel do you need?
- WHEN TO EAT – When is your run & How much time do you need to digest before?
What to Eat Before You Run
Most runners reach for easy to digest carbohydrates before they lace up. Eat a more substantial snack if you’re hungry and/or haven’t eaten in a few hours. Eat a lighter snack if you’re going out for a short run and/or ate recently and just want a lil extra fuel.
Easy Grab & Go Foods to Eat Before You Run
15 Pre-Run Fuel Ideas:
- Banana with nut butter – simple grab & go snack. You can also swap the ‘naner for your fave fruit
- Toast with nut butter and jam – 1 piece may work for short runs or have 2 when you’re hungry or running long
- Oatmeal with nuts – Instant oatmeal packets work well and are easy to travel with for races
- Overnight Oats – Try this… Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Overnight Oats Recipe
- Yogurt with fruit or nuts – Simple and easy to make lighter or more substantial depending on toppings
- Granola or Protein Bar – Aim for a bar that’s more carbs than protein
- Pretzels with Hummus or PB – This is a good option if you crave salt after a run
- Fruit and nuts – A piece of fruit and handful of nuts
- PB&J Sandwich – Pack this along with your running gear if you run after work or school
- Cereal Trail Mix – I love a homemade mix of cereal, nuts and dried fruit in a baggie for an afternoon snack
- Crackers and cheese – Swap the cheese for turkey or tuna if you prefer
- Fruit smoothie – If you don’t like to eat before you run, a fruit smoothie might be a good work around
- Tortilla with avocado – A warm tortilla with butter or smashed avocado and a dash of salt – try it.
- Rice with avocado – Try white rice before a run if your stomach is a lil sensitive to heavy foods
- Sweet potato & PB – PB optional – but surprisingly good with a sweet potato
When to Eat Before You Run
Give yourself time to digest before you run. This varies depending on your stomach and what you’re eating. If you’re a new runner or new to eating before your run – aim to eat something light about 45 minutes before you plan to run. If you have a sensitive stomach give yourself a little more time (start with 1 hour before and adjust as needed).
If your stomach is like a steel trap and you can eat a corndog, chocolate dipped banana and half a funnel cake… then, jump on the triple flip rollercoaster no problemo – you probably won’t have issues eating right before you run.
Figuring out the timing for when to eat is just one piece of the puzzle. Another important part is identifying exactly what to eat that will make you run your absolute best. So try a few different foods and note how you feel in your running log.
Tips for Runners with Digestion Issues or a Sensitive Stomach
If you feel like you can’t eat before you run due to a sensitive stomach or digestion issues it will take extra patience to learn how to fuel your body well.
- Start with simple carbohydrates like a banana, crackers, toast or rice.
- Eat at least 45 minutes before you run.
- Then, write detailed notes in your log with any related information.
Your log should include what you ate and what time. This will help you identify if you need more time to digest certain foods. Sometimes GI issues can be related to timing, sometimes they can be caused by what you actually ate – and sometimes BOTH of these factors can cause tummy trouble while running.
Keep notes on what you ate or drank before you run and how you felt during the run – GOOD or BAD. Just like we only pay attention to our knee when it’s hurting… you may only notice your stomach when it’s angry at you for eating the DUI Nachos from your local Mexican place (that’s really a thing near me).
But what you ate when you didn’t have any GI distress means = Your Body Liked That Fuel. So make sure you take notes on the good days too and build on that.
After a few weeks of simple carbs (bananas, bread, rice) try to incorporate a little bit of fat with it. Again, take detailed notes. Build on this process until you feel you’re fueling yourself well to run your best.
More Tips and Info on What To Eat Before You Run:
- Nutrition 101 for Runners
- Hydration Guide for Runners
- What I Eat in a Day – Food Diary
- Macros 101 – Run Eat Repeat Podcast 137
- Strawberry Shortcake Overnight Oats Recipe
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