What to eat before you run

30 January 2019

What to eat before you run

Wednesday Wisdom with Sarah Trimble Nutrition from Framar Health, providing expert nutritional advice & recipes to help support your marathon training.  

What to eat before you run

  • The food that you eat before you run should provide a sustained release of energy that will keep you going for the duration of the run. On race day and for longer runs during training energy gels and energising drinks are necessary to ensure that you have enough energy to sustain you for an extended duration. But for the majority of your training the meal or snack you eat before running is essential to supply the energy for that run.
  • Meals should be consumed at least 2 hours before a run, running on a full stomach can result in painful gastric symptoms such as cramping and diarrhoea, especially for individuals who already experience IBS. So try and plan your meals around your running schedule to make sure you aren’t running on a full tum.
  • The glucose in our bloodstream (sometimes referred to as blood sugar) is the fuel that supplies energy to our muscles during exercise. Glucose is produced as a result of the breakdown of carbohydrates in our food. So before a meal it is essential to ensure that a good serving of a carbohydrate-rich food is eaten (marathon training is not the time for low carbohydrate diets)! Good pre-run carb sources would include pasta, rice, oats in porridge or oatcakes, bread (such as sourdough, pitta bread or bagel) and potatoes.

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  • These carbohydrates should be combined with a serving of protein. When combining carbs with protein the protein slows digestion, breakdown and release of the glucose from the carbohydrates, therefore ensuring that the glucose is released in a sustained and steady manner for the duration of the run. Good protein sources include nuts and seeds (especially hemp seeds), eggs, low fat greek yoghurt, meat, chicken or fish. Avoid high fat protein sources such as cheese or cream as they can promote digestive issues during a run.
  • High-fibre foods are an essential part of a healthy diet, however, eating them before a run is not really a good idea. The high fibre content can lead to digestive symptoms so it is best to avoid foods such as high-fibre cereals (such as All Bran), wheaten bread, beans and lentils and vegetables such as broccoli or cauliflower. These foods can (and definitely should) be eaten at any other time of day just avoid them before a run.
  • While meals should be eaten at least 2 hours before a run it is possible to eat a small snack before a run, especially if it’s a good few hours since you’ve had something to eat. Pre-run snacks should provide fast release carbohydrates (so they don’t require a lot of digestion), suitable snacks include a banana with a handful of nuts, rice cake with peanut butter or an energy bar (such as NAKD bars, Deliciously Ella energy balls or Paleo Pantry bars) made by blitzing dried fruit with nuts and seeds.

Next Week For Wednesday Wisdom I’ll be sharing one of my favourite pre-run breakfast recipes.