Attitudes towards eating before or after running differ between individuals and depends on what you are comfortable with, however, there are some general guidelines regarding the best time to eat.
Eating before running allows your body to prepare and foods that contain simple sugars or carbohydrates will provide you with enough energy for your run. If you are going to be embarking on a short run, you should avoid eating a large meal, and instead, you should eat snacks that are easy to digest.
Typically, we eat before running to provide our muscles with fuel, however, our bodies have enough fuel stored to allow us to complete shorter physical activities. Eating before a lengthier run will ensure that you do not develop sudden fatigue which will affect your stamina and performance.
If you are going to be eating a large meal, you should allow 2 to 4 hours to pass before running but if you are going to be eating a snack or a smaller meal, you should wait at least 30 minutes to half an hour.
Eating a heavy meal and running shortly after will cause acid reflux and cramping. Ideally, you should try and eat around 300 to 400 calories roughly 2 hours ahead of a run but do not overdo it as you can stop for a quick refuel during your run.
Once you have finished running, you should try and eat within 30 minutes, doing so will help your muscle protein synthesis and will also be beneficial for your recovery. This also ensures that the electrolytes that were lost as you ran are replenished.
Essentially, eating before or after will depend on the time that you run and the longevity. You should try and eat before and after.
What To Eat Before Running?
For runners, preparation is key and this begins with consuming the right snacks and foods before your run. Not only is your diet important for your health but it will also influence how well you perform.
Ideally, your pre-run meal or snack should be high in carbohydrates and easy to digest. Carbohydrates are recommended because they break down into glucose which will provide you with your energy.
Remember that your body will take longer to digest bigger portions of foods too. Ideas for pre-run meals include oatmeal, eggs and salmon, whole wheat bread and turkey or a bagel with turkey, grains in the form of pasta, quinoa, and bread.
For a pre-run snack, you wish to eat fruit (e.g berries or banana topped with peanut butter), low-fat yogurt, cheese sticks accompanied by carrots, low-fat yogurt, and almonds.
What Is The Best Energy Food For Running?
Before running, you should look for foods that have a low fat and fiber content and aren’t too harsh on your digestive system. Your body should be fueled by foods that provide you with energy.
A banana is a great high-carb snack that is easy to digest and contains natural sugars. Bananas are also full of potassium. Adding peanut or almond butter will add a small amount of protein too. Eating dark chocolate before a run will boost your energy levels and can help to lower cholesterol levels, blood pressure and eases inflammation.
Oatmeal is another option. Though it contains fiber, it has plenty of carbs which will provide you with energy. It also has a low glycemic index so you will be left feeling fuller for a lengthier amount of time. Granola bars are a great snack.
As they are made from oats they have similar benefits to eating a bowl of oats. Granola bars contain a mixture of fruits which will provide you with your vitamins. Many runners eat pasta because its carbohydrate content will fuel you for the duration of your run.
Rice and potatoes also have similar benefits making them great pre-workout meal options. Of course, it is important to eat energy foods following your run too. The foods that you choose should contain a combination of carbohydrates and protein to replenish what you lost when exercising. This includes eggs, fruits and vegetables, lean meats, smoothies, and cottage cheese.
What Should You Not Eat Before Running?
There are certain foods that you should avoid eating before running, e.g those that have a high fiber, protein, and fat content as they are difficult to digest and can result in cramping and gastrointestinal issues.
Also, try and avoid caffeinated items because they may lead to diarrhea or stomach upsets. Although regular pasta and plain bagels are appropriate pre-run choices, ideally you should opt for whole-grain alternatives because your body will digest them easier.
Avoid leafy greens along with cauliflower, broccoli, and artichokes. Also, don’t eat foods with spices because your body needs more time to digest them. Whilst many fruits provide great pre-run snacks, you shouldn’t consume those that are high in fiber such as pears and apples.
There are also certain meats that you should not eat before you run and these include red meats, bacon, and hamburgers, etc. Again they will sit in your stomach as they are more difficult for your body to digest. Furthermore, fried foods or those that are covered in a sauce aren’t recommended.
What Should I Drink Before Running A 5K?
Before running a 5K you must keep yourself hydrated. Around 2 hours before running your 5K you should try and drink at least 16 ounces of water. Around 15 to 20 minutes before your run is due to commence you should then drink another 8 to 10 ounces.
Many runners drink green tea because it is thought to improve performance and enhance endurance and alertness. If you decide to drink other drinks aside from water or green tea, it is important to make sure that they agree with your body and aren’t going to make you feel unwell during your run.
Some may choose to drink energy drinks, however, it is important to note that these can sometimes cause you to become dehydrated if you aren’t accessing the correct amount of fluids.