What to Eat Before and After the Run

2 min read Christine Ellis

Christine Ellis
Written by
Christine Ellis
Head of Nutrition - enjoys long and steady pace runs 🏃‍♀️

What you eat can make or break your run. Thus, it’s vital to establish a set nutrition routine that works for you. After all, properly fueling your body ensures you have the energy to achieve your peak performance and recover fully and quickly afterward. 

Plus, eating the wrong foods or food combinations can quickly lead to runner’s stomach (something you don’t want!). It can leave you running to find a toilet as opposed to running to finish your planned route.

In this article, we lay it all out. What should you eat? When should you eat? Let’s find out!

Planning Your Eating Schedule for Your Run

Ideally, you want to set out on your run feeling good. You don’t want to be hungry, nor do you want to be feeling so full that you can’t move. Generally, you don’t want to eat right before you head out on your run. 

For each runner, this may take some trial and error. Everyone’s body is different. However, most runners find that eating about 2–3 hours before their run provided the most optimal results. Alternatively, you may also choose to consume a small snack an hour before you head out.

Experiment to find what works for you. Try eating three hours before your planned run. If you find yourself hungry during your run, try eating a small snack two hours before training. 

When it comes to eating after your run, a meal within an hour is always a good idea. This can help contribute to an effective and quick recovery, allowing you to stick to your training schedule as planned.

What to Eat Before and After Running

So, what exactly should you eat? 

Ideally, you want a combination of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Carbs should make up about 60% of your total caloric intake, protein should make up about 10–30%, and fat should make up about 20–35%. This often means that each meal or snack you have should have a 2:1 ratio of carbs and protein, along with a bit of fat. 

On top of this, you want to ensure you consume the right minerals, such as calcium, potassium, and sodium. These are important for runners since they often need replenishing after your run, and they help with proper muscular function and bone repair. 

Back to our first question: what exactly should you eat?

Here are a few healthy carb ideas:

  • Whole grain bread or pasta
  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Brown rice

Combine these carbs with the healthy protein sources:

  • Poultry and eggs
  • Fish
  • Beans
  • Lean meats
  • Low-fat dairy

If you want a light snack, try yogurt, a banana, an energy bar, or a bit of dry cereal.

Be cautious! There are also things you may want to avoid in your training day, including:

  • Soda and sugary drinks
  • Spicy food
  • High lactose foods
  • Legumes
  • Broccoli or any other high-fiber vegetable

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Planning your nutrition is essential for a successful run. Ultimately, it comes down to what works for you and helps you avoid stomach issues when heading out on your run.

Key takeaways:

  • Find an eating schedule that works for you. Most runners eat 1–3 hours before and within an hour after their run.
  • Make sure you consume a 1:2 carbs-protein ratio as your pre-run meal and for your post-run meal.
  • Avoid sugary and carbonated drinks, spicy foods, high lactose foods, legumes, and high fiber vegetables before you run.

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