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What Should You Eat And Drink Before Running?

The debate of whether to ear or not before running has been around for a long time. If you’ve been following such social media threads and forums about this, you’ll know that what you consume beforehand, can make or break your running game.

If you’re one of those who fast before a race or even a treadmill session, you probably don’t see yourself at peak performance. As such, consider breaking the fasting habit so you can reap the benefits of fueling up hitherto a race.

Should You Eat Before Running?

People who run intending to lose weight usually skip breakfast before a supposedly intense workout, not knowing that they’re missing out on a lot of great things. As a result, they end up experiencing mid-workout fatigue or hypoglycemia before they could finish. While fasting may help burn stored fat, running with an empty stomach won’t give you enough energy to sustain a satisfying workout.

If you plan to run for less than half an hour or a few laps only, there’s no need for a pre-run meal. Glycogens in our body would be able to sustain low-intensity exercises. But if you’d like to last longer and beat records, you’ll need a good meal to give you lasting energy to do so.

For an afterburn to take place, one needs to perform a high-intensity workout for an extended amount of time. This metabolic state, which is also known as EPOC or Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption, burns more calories after the physical activities. And you won’t have enough energy to do this if not for the nutrient-intake before the workout or race.

But this should not serve as an excuse for you to load up on carbs the night before the race. With the right amount, some foods and beverages will help you run at peak performance. On the other hand, there are foods you need to avoid as they cause gastrointestinal distress, which will hinder you from getting to the finish line.

What To Eat And Drink Before A Run?

It is crucial to choose the pre-run meal carefully as eating the wrong foods could send you searching for the nearest bathroom and stay there for the remainder of the race. Apart from making sure that you eat foods you won’t have issues with, choose fuel-packed foods, particularly those that are high in carbohydrates, but with low amounts of fat, protein, and fiber.

Some of these energy-boosting foods that are ideal before a sustained race or workout include the following:

  • A banana with peanut butter
  • Hard-boiled eggs and a toast
  • A serving of pasta with marinara sauce and meatballs
  • Grilled turkey or chicken breast with sliders
  • Cheese and carrot sticks
  • Energy bars or a bowl of cereal

If the marathon or race would take hours, make sure to bring hydration packs and some energy bars to replenish your glycogen stores.

Foods You Should Not Eat Before Running

Runner’s trots, also known as runner’s diarrhea or colitis, may happen during or after the race. If this is the case, the culprit would be something you consumed within 24 hours before the run. Avoid these foods, in general, to be safe from bathroom calls that would prevent you from achieving your running milestones.

High-Fat Foods

Foods high in fat are difficult to digest. They stay in your stomach for a while, leaving you feeling full and burdensome to start a run. Most of these meals would take time before they convert to energy. Thus, you won’t get your dose of fuel when you need it the most. Some of these foods are:

  • Fried foods
  • Processed foods
  • Heavy sauce
  • Heavy cream
  • Foods drizzled in olive oil

Dairy Foods

Lactose intolerant people should avoid dairy at all costs. However, some people are not aware of their sensitivity to dairy products. As such, they chug on milk and eat plenty of cheeses, without a clue that it causes an upset stomach in a few.

Those who don’t experience the same problem can surely add dairy to their pre-run diet. However, we still suggest not consuming this kind of food 24 hours before your run, to be safe. Some of these foods are:

  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt

High-Fiber Foods

Although some high-fiber foods are healthy and highly recommended, they are not compatible with a runner’s diet, especially in a race that would start in an hour. These choices can be rough to digestion and may cause elevated heart rates. To prevent frequent bathroom trips, avoid the following foods:

  • Brocolli and cruciferous foods
  • Legumes
  • Apples, pears and some juices
  • Fermented foods
  • Spicy foods

Caffeinated And Sweet Beverages

Drinks high in caffeine, which may be present not only in coffee but also in sweetened beverages, can upset a stomach during a run. Look at the label and check for caffeine content to know which particular drink you should avoid before a workout or a race.

What Runners On Keto Diet Can Eat And Drink Before Running

Those who are in a ketogenic diet, but are keen to endure a race may find the above recommended as a not-so-friendly food list. As the keto diet discourages carb intake, and replace it with healthy fats, this could mean that someone in keto may not be suitable for a race. While this is partly true, keto dieters can still run but not in the same intensity and great lengths as marathons require.

To finish a marathon without experiencing hypoglycemia, one must fuel up with the right foods. As ketogenic diet restricts carb intake to a minimum, keto goers can only go as far as doing low to medium intensity runs.

Wrapping It Up

Runners and those who plan to become one must know the right nutrition-intake before engaging in an intense marathon. Workouts may be for weight loss, but long trails and 30k runs are all about fueling up. Skipping the high-fiber, high fat, and dairy foods, and consuming carbs will help you race at your best. What do you eat or drink before you run? Short or long runs will dictate, how do you find that balance?

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