Get the Most Out of Your Running by Eating the Right Foods

I’m sure many of you have headed out the door for a morning run on an empty stomach and later regretted it. Eating before a run even if it is just a small snack will give you extra energy and a boost and may even inspire and push you to run that extra mile. Actually, fuelling your body with the right food before you head out the door on a run is crucial to keep you performing at your best.

However, if you eat the wrong food or even too much food before a run you may find that your body struggles with digestion and the wrong pre-run snack could give you stomach troubles and even diarrhea, stomach to cramp, dizziness, and headaches.

The best food to eat before a morning run giving you the quick fuel you need without weighing you down is something that is high in carbohydrate, low fiber, contains a small amount of protein and is easily digestible. Let’s take a closer look and what you can and cannot eat before a run.

Good Foods to Eat Before a Morning Run

The below are some of the best food to eat before a run and will help avoid stomach troubles and any other gastrointestinal distress during or after running.

1. Low-Fiber Fruits and Veggies

If you have a craving for fruits or veggies before a run grapefruits, olives, tomatoes, grapes, and zucchini are all low in fiber and are perfect pre-run foods.

2. Refined Carbs

Processed white food types such as white rice, regular pasta, and even plain bagels are all good pre-run foods. Sure, they are not as healthy or even nutritious as whole grain and unprocessed foods but they are a lot easier on the stomach because the whole grains in these foods is already broken down.

3. Safe Dairy Products

Generally consuming a small amount of dairy before running should not be an issue for most people. However, some of you out there will have some stomach problems when consuming dairy products before runs. Rice, Soy, and Almond milks are great alternatives and tend to contain less or no sugar lactose, which can be tough to digest. Dairy foods with live cultures such acidophilus milk and yogurts contain bacteria that help with digestion.

My personal pre-run food is a plain bagel topped with some peanut butter followed with a glass of water

Foods to Avoid Before Running

If you find that you are constantly having digestive problems on your run try eliminating or simply limiting some of these below food to see if things improve.

1. High-Fat Foods

Foods that contain a lot of fat such as cheese, bacon, hamburgers and fried foods digest slowly and will leave you feeling blotted and over-full on a run.

2. High-Fiber Foods

As I mentioned above if you have a craving for some fibrous foods go for something that is low in fiber. Try to avoid vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole-grain foods which are high in fiber otherwise you may find yourself running to the nearest toilet with gastrointestinal distress or even diarrhea. We are not saying that these types of foods are not healthy but if eaten by runners the night before a morning run may cause digestive issues.

3. Caffeine or Caffeinated Beverages

Caffeinated drinks such as coffee and energy drinks can cause stomach problems or even diarrhea for runners. However, you might be lucky if you regular coffee drinker and might be perfectly fine on your run.

Things to Consider

At the end of the day we are all different, foods and drinks that might be fine with your running buddies may not agree with you and your stomach sensitivities. It’s best to take to above as a rough guideline as to what to and what not to eat. Experiment with different foods and drinks as well as portion sizes to optimize your pre-run fuel.

Photo by Chris Hunkeler

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