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eat before run

Should I Eat Before My Morning Run?

June 14th, 2022

When you wake up super early to start preparing for that morning run, do you think about whether to have a meal? Are you the kind of person who likes to eat beforehand, or do you prefer to enjoy your breakfast after you get back from your run?

There is mixed science behind eating before running. The what ifs and what not to dos behind it can get complicated, so we have put together a general guide. This article is only a guide and should not be the end all and be all. Every person is different, and what might work for you might not be right for the next person. 

Long vs short runs

As stated before, the science behind eating before a meal is tricky and very much a person to person basis. Your body is very individual when it comes to digestion. 

Typically it is recommended that if you are exercising more than one hour, you should eat beforehand. It doesn’t have to be a large meal if you don’t want it to be, but it is recommended you eat something to fuel your body for the upcoming longer run. 

If you are planning on going on a shorter run, eating beforehand is optional. You don’t have to eat anything, however, you can if you want to.

Digestion time

You will also have to consider the time your body needs to digest before you work out. The more you eat, the more time your body will need to process the food, especially if it is a high density, and a protein-rich meal.

The recommendation is:

Anything that is considered a ‘small snack’ such as a nut butter bar or an energy bar, only needs about half an hour to be processed enough to not cause an issue and an upset stomach. A small, light breakfast generally takes about an hour to digest. A larger meal, such as a full breakfast generally needs over an hour to digest.

What if I don’t want to eat before my run?

Studies suggest that you should never completely skip meals, so if for any reason you can’t or don’t want to eat before your run, you should always eat breakfast after. 

Remember that after a run your body will be lacking in salts and vitamins that your body naturally sweats out. You will need to consume nutrients to replenish your muscles post workout. This gets the muscle glycogen resynthesis process going, which essentially means recharging the energy stores in your body. 

What if I don’t have an appetite?

When your body gets used to a certain lifestyle, things like your appetite can change to adjust to it. For example, if you take an early morning run and don’t typically eat breakfast at all, it will take a while before your body adjusts to eating beforehand. You might have to start waking up earlier to eat, or try introducing food after your run. Make sure this is a slow process and you are eating the right food. This may take a while to figure out but there are a few tricks you can use in order to take the right steps forward.

Breakfast tips and tricks

If you ever ask yourself, what should I eat before my morning run? Here are some helpful tips and tricks on figuring that out. 

breakfast

  1. Make sure that you are eating carbohydrates to replenish your energy.
  2. Opt for healthy breakfast choices, a few ideas being:
    • Peanut butter on apple slices for healthy fats and natural sugars 
    • Avocado on multigrain toast for healthy fats, carbohydrates and fibre
    • Protein overnight oats for an energy kick
    • A wholegrain bagel with light cream cheese for protein
    • Fruits with low-sugar granola (pears, oranges, and bananas are great sources of potassium and Vitamin C)
    • A scrambled egg and spinach breakfast wrap
  3. Try a liquid option. If solid foods aren’t going down well, smoothies are the perfect alternative! A fruit and greek yogurt smoothie can be a great option, as they are packed full of nutrients and are easy on the gut.
  4. If you are a long distance runner, try energy gels. These can be had on the go if your run is over an hour long. These gels are easy to carry and consume on the go. 

Let’s look at the science

Some people prefer to run on an empty stomach. This is called ‘fasted running’ and it helps increase fat burn during the run. Since your body does not have any food in the stomach, your body relies on the fat build-up in your system to run. 

But there are drawbacks to running on an empty stomach. There is a possibility of muscle loss due to high levels of cortisol which promotes the breakdown of muscle cells. There is also the possibility of risk for certain conditions such as Addison’s disease which is caused by dangerously low blood sugar levels for a prolonged time. If you plan on taking a long run, take a snack and drink with you that can restore your blood sugar levels and keep you hydrated. 

So, what should I eat for breakfast before a run? If you are to eat before the run, make sure your meal is full of complex carbs and avoid saturated fats and refined sugars. Find foods that you digest easily and agree with your stomach.

How to increase your running stamina?

Let’s talk about running stamina and how to improve it. It has a lot to do with choosing the right nutrition, running accessories, and setting a running routine. 

First things first, let’s start with your running gear. It is necessary that you have the right running shoes on to prevent injuries and stabilise your feet and ankles. 

Next, your nutrition, focusing on your post and pre-run meals and snacks is the key to being healthy and staying healthy. If you are unsure about anything, reach out to a medical or sports professional. They will be able to provide expert advice catered to you so you can get the best out of your runs and you can work towards the results you are looking for.  A qualified dietician will be able to educate and inform you on the best meals and nutrition you should be consuming to fuel your lifestyle. 

Last, but certainly not least, figure out your perfect routine. Running, strength training, and stretches are an amazing way to have a healthy and rounded running regime.

To read more: Benefits of Incorporating Strength Training Into Your Running Routine & The Best Stretches for Running Faster and Better

Shop our full range of running accessories and energy gels on our website now.

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