Best Foods To Eat Before Running

What are the best foods to eat before running? Many people have different opinions on the above topic; some say you should eat before you run and more say it is better to run on an empty stomach. I believe in eating before a run. I will now look at the benefits of eating and not eating before a run, and I will list the foods that I believe you should eat before a run and the types of foods you should not eat.

Benefits of eating before a run

It is beneficial to eat before any run; depending on the time of the day and the size of the meal, we need to leave an adequate amount of time between eating and running. We will now look at the benefits of eating before a run

  • a lot more energy
  • less chance of getting injured
  • higher chance of upset stomach – when we should eat

Benefits of not eating before a run

There are certain benefits to not eating before a run, but if you are going for a long run, we do not recommend running on an empty stomach

  • increased fat burn
  • may lead to muscle loss
  • may cause overeating after the run
  • a high-intensity run will be harder
  • reduced risk of upset stomach
  • just get up and go.

When to eat before a run?

Many people ask this question, but it’s a question that has many answers. It depends on a few different things

  • what should we eat?
  • How far are we running?
  • Is it an easy or a hard run?

What should we eat?

  • Maybe we should eat a snack like a granola bar, a banana or yogurt we should need only wait about 30 minutes
  • if we eat eggs or oats, we would need to eat about 60 or 90 minutes beforehand
  • if we eat a more substantial meal, we would need to eat about 3 hours before our run.

How far are we running? best food to eat before running

  • If we only run about 5km, we can run after a light snack without eating anything.
  • If only running for 60 to 90 minutes, eat a light meal like banana and yogurt.
  • When running a half-marathon or a marathon the following morning, try eating some healthy carbs for dinner the day before. If running in the evening, try having healthy carbohydrates about 3 hours before the run.

Is it an easy or a hard run?

  • If only doing an easy run, we won’t expend too much energy, so a small snack should suffice
  • if we plan on running hard, we should eat a more substantial meal as the body will need more fuel.

So, what foods should we eat?

There are a lot of foods that we should eat when we are going for a run. It depends on the time of the day that we are going running. I will break the foods down into breakfast foods and lunch foods.

Breakfast foods

When going for a run in the morning, we can eat the following foods about 30 to 60 minutes before our run. It’s essential to eat foods with a low glycemic index

  • banana – a great fruit to eat before a run as it is a good energy source. It also contains potassium and antioxidants, which helps stop muscle cramps
  • yogurt – O%-fat yogurts are a good source of protein, carbohydrates, and calcium
  • peanut butter – contains vitamin E, potassium, calcium, and iron. It’s another great go-to food for runners’
  • oats are high in carbohydrates and fiber but have a low glycemic index. Oats slowly release energy which keeps us going during our run
  • granola – is an excellent source of protein, and iron
  • eggs – are a great source of protein and healthy fats. They are incredibly nutritious and great food if we plan on going for a long run

Lunch foods.

The following are the best foods to eat for lunch if going for a run at least 3 hours later

  • chicken with wholegrain rice and vegetables
  • baked potato with baked beans
  • a chicken sandwich made with whole-wheat bread
  • whole-wheat pasta with sauce
  • salmon with wholegrain rice.

What foods should we especially avoid?

There are many foods that I would recommend not eating before we should run. These foods fall into a few categories

  • high fiber foods are generally healthy, but they are not ideal before a run as they may cause you to need the toilet in a hurry and tend to help clear out your stomach. It is better to eat foods that are low in fiber
  • high-fat foods – these foods will make you feel full, which will make you very uncomfortable when you are running
  • spicy foods – when we eat spicy foods before a run, it will lead to heartburn and stomach ache
  • too much caffeine – 1 cup of coffee is okay, but when we drink too much coffee, we may need the toilet urgently as it could lead to an upset stomach
  • alcohol – alcohol, and exercise don’t go together at any stage.

Final Thoughts

We have now discussed the benefits of eating and not eating before a run. We have looked at foods we advise you to eat before a run. I have also listed some items we should avoid as they may lead to an upset stomach. My go-to food before a run is a banana. It will be trial and error as to what is good for me before a run, and it may not agree with everybody else.

It is also essential to keep the body properly hydrated. Sometimes if we go for a run after eating something different and get a side stitch, we will always blame the food, but sometimes it can be that we are not appropriately hydrated, or it may have to do with our breathing. I have written a separate post on how to breathe while running.


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