If you like to exercise, then you know diet plays a large role in your performance. It’s no different when it comes to running, and if you’re planning on running in a 5k race then it’s important to make sure you’re eating the right things beforehand.
In this handy guide, we’ll teach you what foods you should eat before running a 5k, along with some foods you should be avoiding.
So let’s jump right into it!
What Foods Should You Eat Before Running A 5k?
Eating the right foods in preparation for your run will be a massive help, giving you the energy you need. After all, 5k is a long distance to run in one go – without the proper food, your body won’t be able to perform as effectively as it should.
Most runners will typically complete a 5k in around 30-40 minutes, keeping a consistent running/jogging pace throughout. As a result, you’ll need food that provides a good amount of energy but doesn’t release it all in one go, so you don’t crash halfway through the race.
The best foods for this are carbohydrates. These are some of the most effective fuel foods you can eat, releasing energy into your body and providing your muscles with the power they need to keep you going. You’ll also need some protein, along with some form of hydration.
If you’re preparing for a 5k run, then you need a mix of slow-release and fast-release carbs. Slow-release carbs are things like wholegrain bread, pasta, rice, a sweet potato; like the name implies, they release their energy slowly.
Meanwhile, fast-releasing carbs are more sugary, such as sweets, glucose tabs and drinks, and fruits, which give you a burst of intense energy in a short period.
A good balance is key:
too many slow-releasing carbs and it will take too long for the energy to be of any use to you, while having too many fast-release carbs will cause you to crash early on.
Foods like toast with jelly, oatmeal with fresh fruit, pasta salad, or yogurt and granola are all great choices for a pre-5k meal. Aim for a balance of 75% carbs and 25% protein, along with plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
Water is the best option for fluid, but you can also choose to add a glucose tablet to your water or have an electrolyte drink.
A pre-run smoothie is also a great choice – not only can you pack them full of fruit for carbs and yogurt and/or seeds for protein, but they also help keep you hydrated before and during the race.
One thing that many people think should be avoided before running a 5k is caffeine. However, this isn’t true. Caffeine, and caffeine strips, can actually help boost your performance. Try a measure of around 80mg of caffeine prior to your run, and you may be surprised at the results.
Whatever you choose to eat, avoid having too much of it. You don’t want to feel sluggish and full while running, so keep things light with a snack or small meal.
What Foods Do You Need To Avoid?
While there are certain foods that can be beneficial before your run, there are others that can be a disadvantage.
As mentioned above, eating too much before your 5k will leave you feeling sluggish and can cause issues such as indigestion and bloating. Avoid any large meals or loading up on carbs to keep these issues from occurring.
Not all carbs are created equal, and choosing the wrong carbs to eat can cause issues. Sugary foods can easily lead to crashing, where you get a burst of energy that runs out and leaves you tired.
Candy, sugary drinks, and other sugary foods will cause you to crash early on – not something you want in a 5k run!
Junk food is also a bad choice. It’s salty, fatty, and sugary – everything you don’t want before a long run. They can also cause indigestion and bloating.
The same goes for other foods that can irritate your stomach. This includes fried foods, spicy foods, and anything that upsets your stomach (eg. allergies, intolerances, etc.).
Why Is Eating The Right Foods So Important
Okay – so we’ve covered some of the best foods to eat before tackling your 5k run. Now let’s take a look at why it’s so important to eat the right foods in the first place.
Having a light and balanced meal with the right amount of carbohydrates and protein will give you all the energy you need over an extended period of running, which is vital for running a 5k.
As mentioned before, combining slow-release and fast-release carbs will ensure that your pre-5k meal will release energy consistently throughout the run, instead of too early or too late during the race.
Finally, staying well-hydrated before the race will prevent you from becoming dehydrated and avoid issues like dizziness and an increased risk of heat-related issues.
Overall, you want a meal that isn’t too heavy, has all the energy you need, and will keep you going for your whole race. When running a 5k, eating the right food will put you in the best position to perform at your best.
So there you have it! Now you know all there is to know about the foods you should and shouldn’t eat before running a 5k. Eating the right foods before you race will help you run at your fullest potential and help you avoid any issues during the race.
Now that you know what foods are best to eat before your 5k (as well as the ones you should avoid), you’re one more step closer to achieving this great goal. Running a 5k can be a daunting task, but as long as you’re properly prepared, nothing can stop you!