Nutritional needs are different for every person, so it is important to explore different ways to fuel your body to find the way that works best for you. Today I explore when you should eat and what you should eat before a morning run.
Generally if your run is an hour or less you won’t necessarily need anything, however, if your run is 5 miles or longer, then you might want to think about fuelling up before you go.
What you eat before a run might vary from day to day depending on what your goals are. If you are training for a 5K or 10K you will probably need to fuel up more than you would for shorter runs. Check out our blog on what to eat before a 5K or 10K run for more advice.
Should I eat carbohydrates or protein?
You want to eat small amount of easily digestible foods, like bananas, and avoid high fibre foods, like wholemeal or potatoes, as these take longer to digest.
During harder training sessions your body uses the carbohydrates stored in muscles as the main energy source, whereas the body burns fat during low intensity exercise such as jogging or walking.
A small amount of protein pre-workout can help increase the availability of glucose towards the end of your workout. It can also counter the breakdown of glucose in your muscles.
Protein isn’t just for building body mass; it is an essential part of our growth and repair process after exercise. It takes time for your body to recover after exercising, aim to allow your muscles 24-48 hours to rest and repair.1 Try to eat protein within 30 minutes after your run, in most cases people who consume protein after running will feel less sore and experience more energy throughout the day. For tasty post-run snack ideas take a look at our blog on what to eat to recover from your run.
Protein is great after a run, but should you eat it before running too? Research has found that the consumption of carbohydrates and protein immediately before exercise had a greater effect on preventing the breakdown of protein in muscles compared to taking the same amount immediately after exercise.2
A 2007 study found that a carbohydrate-protein combination before, during, and after exercise can help limit muscle damage that occurs before and after exercise.3
However, carbohydrates are the most effective nutrient for performance and are broken down faster than protein making them better energy sources.4
How long should I wait after eating before starting a run?
There is no one correct answer; mostly it comes down to personal preference. Try eating a small amount an hour before running and, if you don’t feel any cramping or stomach ache, bring the meal forward. On the other hand, if eating an hour before running doesn’t sit well with you push it back.
How long you should wait also comes down to how big your meal is. You will be able to run sooner if you eat a smaller snack and you will have to wait a little bit longer if you have a large meal.
What should I eat?
Bananas Bananas are a great source of energy, they are full of potassium and will release energy gradually as you run. Try adding in some peanut butter to give you a little bit of protein too!
Fruit smoothies If you are not a fan of solid foods in the morning smoothies are a great alternative! Adding a bit of water to your smoothie will help to make it thinner as well as keeping you hydrated on the run. Or, try mixing your smoothie with a Balance Mineral Drink sachet which is packed full of the electrolytes that are lost through sweat as you run. Check out our energy boosting smoothie recipes or experiment with your own combinations of fruits.
Energy bars Energy bars are a quick and easy way to fuel up for your run. They are easy to digest and filled with the energy-boosting nutrients you need. Try our cinnamon and chia seed energy balls that will provide you with an immediate boost of energy.