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Pre-Run Nutrition

I talked about writing a nutrition post for running. So, here it part 1 of my nutrition series for running. I probably should have posted this earlier but better late than never.

So, nutrition is important when running. This post will be about nutrition before running. The topics I will cover are:

  • Why is eating before running important?
  • What should I eat before a workout?

I hope that you guys will find this post helpful. The one thing I want to point out is that distance runners should have a diet that is higher in carbohydrates than the average person. They need the carbohydrates to fuel their running. To take this into perspective, the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) for carbohydrates is 45-65% of total caloric intake. However, distance runners should be at the higher end of the percentage than the average person.

Why should I eat before running? 

To answer your question simply, would you drive your car with an empty tank of gas? I don’t think many of us would want to. Your car wouldn’t move and even if it did, it wouldn’t get very far. That is how it’s like with food and running. You want to provide energy for your workout. If not, you’ll not perform well and fatigue will come. Eating something before running, even if it’s just a small snack, will help delay fatigue during your run.

Some of you guys may have the question, “I run early in the morning before work. I don’t have time to eat something before I exercise. It’ll make my stomach upset while running. Do I still have to eat?” 

Yes, it is best to eat before you run. However, I know that gastrointestinal discomfort (upset stomach) can happen. It had happened to me when I trained for my first half marathon but I learned what my body can tolerate after that. The best advice to give is to eat something small, like a handful of low-fiber cereal or half a banana. Test and see what works best for you while you are training for your race, not on race day. Eating something is better than nothing. If your body absolutely cannot tolerate any food, eat your breakfast right before bed the night before.

What should I eat before a workout?

The best thing to eat is something high in carbohydrates AND low in fat and protein. The reason why you should eat something high in carbohydrates is that it is your body’s main source of energy. It gets broken down into glucose, which your body uses as fuel immediately or is stored as glycogen in your muscle and liver cells. Fat and protein tend to sit in your stomach longer, which may make you feel uncomfortable while running. However, some protein is needed to help sustain your energy and maintain your muscles.

Some examples of pre-workout meals or snacks include:

  • Whole Wheat Toast with a Nut Butter and Banana
  • Nonfat Yogurt with a banana
  • Turkey Sandwich on Whole Wheat Bread
  • Trail Mix (with dried fruit and nuts)
  • Granola Bar
  • Bagel with nonfat cream cheese

I hope this helps you guys out and was informative. Just a disclaimer that every individual is different and it is best to talk to a health care professional or Registered Dietitian.

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