While it might make sense to eat before a run, eating a meal that is too large can cause a few problems. At best, it can cause sluggishness, and at worst it can cause cramps and lead to issues with digestion.
But can we avoid this problem? Yes, and one way to do so is being mindful of leaving some time between a meal and a run.
It’s generally advised that you leave 3 to 4 hours between a big meal and a run. However, if you’ve eaten a snack or a smaller meal, you can run after 1 to 2 hours, or even as little as half an hour if the snack is very small.
It’s important to remember that we’re all different, and eating a light snack before a run may give you more energy, or you might find that eating anything before running doesn’t agree with you.
But how can you ensure you have the best run possible without feeling sluggish, nauseous, and avoid cramps? Read on to find out!
How Can You Prevent Cramps When Running?
Cramps while running may be due to dehydration which can cause gastrointestinal discomfort such as bloating, stomach aches, and cramps.
You can avoid cramps by drinking water or a sports drink every 15 to 30 minutes on a run, and stay clear of foods that are high in fiber the night before the run and the morning of the run.
How Can You Prevent Nausea When Running?
When you’ve been on a particularly tough run, you may feel nauseous or even vomit. There are many reasons you might feel nauseous during a run, such as dehydration, heat stroke, or slowed digestion.
Drinking lots of water during a run can prevent nausea, especially when it’s hot. Properly cooling down is essential, so your body can properly adjust to a change in temperature following a run.
Eating a light snack about half an hour before or a run or straight after can also help you avoid nausea or stop it.
What Should You Eat Before You Run?
Eating a small snack before a run can help maintain your energy levels and importantly, and help to maintain your blood sugar levels.
However, when you plan to run can dictate what snack you’re enjoying before you go for a run. Let’s take a look at the best snacks to have depending on your running routine.
If you’re a morning runner, there might not be enough time for you to eat a meal before you head out. However, it’s likely you haven’t eaten anything since the previous night.
Therefore it’s important to eat a small breakfast or snack 30 minutes to an hour before you leave, and it’s important that these meals or snacks have protein and carbohydrates.
This could be a banana, an energy or granola bar, a fruit smoothie, oatmeal, a wholegrain bagel, or yogurt.
If you run at midday or lunchtime, it’s recommended to eat a full breakfast around 3 to 4 hours before you run, and a small snack 1 to 2 hours before you run.
This should be cereal, a peanut butter sandwich, oatmeal, a small smoothie, or some nuts like almonds, cashews, or pistachios.
When running in the late afternoon/evening, you might be hungry and tired after your lunch and will need a small snack before you run, especially if you’re planning on a later dinner.
It’s recommended to have a small snack 1 to 2 hours before you run in the evening, such as crackers, an energy bar, a granola bar, or a small peanut butter sandwich.
What Snacks Should You Eat During A Run?
If you’re running for less than an hour, you only really need to drink water or a sports beverage. But if you’re running for longer than an hour or are doing a very intense workout, you will need to bring some carbohydrates with you like a sports drink or energy gel.
Some people may eat half an energy gel, two energy chews and some energy beans every half an hour if they’re running for over an hour, of course drinking plenty of water.
Should You Drink Water During A Run?
It’s so important to drink water during a run, especially when it’s hot. But how much water should you drink to stay safe and hydrated during a run?
Two to three hours before you run, drink 2 to 3 bottles of water, and when you’re on your run drink half a cup to 1 bottle of water every 15 to 20 minutes. However, you may need more water than this when it’s particularly hot.
When you’ve finished your run drink 2 to 3 bottles of water for every pound of weight you’ve lost whilst running. If you’ve lost weight straight after a run this means you’ve shed some water weight.
If you’re running for over an hour, it’s a good idea to bring a sports drink. This will help your body recover from a run by maintaining your balance of electrolytes and the carbohydrates present in the beverage will give you energy.
It’s true that food is important to staying healthy, but if you eat a meal that is too large before a run this can cause a lot of digestive issues like cramps or diarrhea.
It’s best to wait 3 hours following a big meal to go for a run, while eating a small snack such as fruit or yogurt will give you the energy you need for your run.
When you return home from a run, it’s important to fuel yourself with a small meal or a protein shake, and hydrate yourself with a sports beverage or water.