When you run, you burn calories. Some people may run to actually burn calories, lose weight and build muscle. You have a lot of glycogen stored in your muscles – so much that you can go for 2 hours at marathon pace. If you already have fuel that you can use to run, do you need to eat before running?
Yes. If you are running for longer distances, you definitely need extra fuel – food before running. Below we look at what to eat before running, and the various factors that determine this crucial decision.What to eat before a run varies from person to person. What works for someone else may not work for you.
Factors that determine what to eat before runningThe time before your run
How long should you eat before a run? This differs from person to person. The best way to find out is eating a medium snack one and a half minutes before your run. We will look at the different snacks later.
If there are no stomach issues, try and eat 15 and 20 minutes earlier next time. If you had stomach problems, increase your time by 15 to 20 minutes for the next run. Keep adding or subtracting 15 to 20 minutes for every run, until you get to know what time works best for you.
If your run is hard, the earlier you should eat before hitting the road. If you eat a larger meal or snack, you also need to eat earlier before you run.The intensity of the run
As aforementioned, your body stores glycogen which acts as fuel for your running. Most times, a snack or meal is not necessary. If your run is longer, you definitely need to add fuel. A small snack, half an hour before your run is a good idea.Your digestive system
Your digestive system should also determine what is more appropriate for you before your run. For instance, eating bananas may cause heartburn in some people, while the same may give energy to other people.
What to eat before running
Below are some snacks that you can try out:
Note that the snacks you go for need to be easily digestible. Fatty foods or those with higher fiber will take longer to digest, yet you need the energy to fuel your run. An ideal snack should have simple and complex carbohydrates, well balanced, and some protein to help you feel fuller.
This is a good source of carbohydrates, with a little fiber, if any.
These quench thirst, prevent injury and replace the collagen in muscle fibers which break down during exercise. There are 62 calories in one orange. Do not drink too much orange juice before a run, as it may upset your stomach. Oranges provide a lot of carbs at once.
Special K or Rice Krispies have less than 2 grams of fiber per serving. You can add some milk and a half cup of sliced strawberries or bananas.
Dates contain natural sugars, which are a good carbohydrate source. They also have potassium, aiding in muscular function. Eating two dates is like eating a small banana, and you will have met 10% your daily carbohydrate needs. Note that dried fruit has more calories. If you go for dry dates, eat just a quarter cup. Dried apricots, cherries, cranberries, and mangoes are also good replacements if you do not like dates.
A cold coffee beverage
Such a beverage will help you cool down and hydrate you before your run. Caffeine improves your focus, and the milk provides some protein. During a longer run, caffeine will delay muscle fatigue. You may want to avoid the whipped cream.
Hummus and carrots
This is a protein and carbohydrates combination, keeping you a bit fuller during your run. Carrots will prevent your skin from damage by the sun’s rays, a lifesaver for you if you prefer to run during the day.
This is ideal for longer runs, leaving you fuller, without the uncomfortable feeling of a heavy meal. Go for the instant variety, providing 40% of your daily iron needs. A sweetened variety provides extra fuel for extra energy during the longer run.
All in All
As we have seen, there are many factors that determine what to eat before running. Moreover, your options are highly individualized. The best way to know what works for you best is to try out the different snacks before your run, and varying the above-discussed factors.