What to Eat Before and After Running in the Morning – Question Answered!
If you want to eat before or after a morning run, there are a few considerations to make.
You can eat or you can run on an empty stomach. Both approaches are correct.
It is why so many people are actually confused about the right time to eat.
But runners are often fans of routines and eating doesn’t have to be different.
Interestingly, most researchers have proven this as well. It is why the latest studies on the topic actually focus on the types of foods to be consumed according to your style of running.
So are you eating right?
Going Back to Basics – Is Running Actually Good for You?
It is always indicated to know why you try to eat a certain way.
Running comes with multiple health benefits. Improved cardiovascular health is among them. Improved hormone balance is another reason to consider running.
But many people run to maintain their weight.
Since most people have to make time to run according to their work schedule, running in the morning is very popular.
So you can run before going to work but you can also run early if you want to have good energy levels through the day.
Running is good for you and adjusting what you eat can maximize its benefits.
Eating Before Running
I always eat before running.
Even if I go on a short 30-minute run, I still try to eat some type of food before leaving the house.
This approach is actually backed up by scientific data.
According to a study, the foods you eat should be determined by the duration of the running session and even by your own preferences.
So you need to consider:
- The duration of your running session.
- The timing of your run.
- Foods your stomach can handle.
- Carbohydrates intake.
The more you run, the more energy your body will need.
Since you run in the morning, even the food you had for dinner, a day before, can play an important role in muscle glycogen levels.
For this reason, I mostly eat a combination of protein and carbohydrates for the average run of around an hour. Great hydration and a cup of coffee can also be recommended for extra energy.
Prior to running, you can have a coffee or a healthy snack such as dates or almonds. Cereals are often preferred by runners as they can be easy on the stomach.
With different foods to consider, is timing important?
Timing is crucial if you decide to eat before going on a run.
So if you are wondering what to eat before running in the morning, you can choose the foods according to the time you have for your stomach to rest.
- Carbs such as oats or sweet potatoes can be consumed 60 to 90 minutes before going on a run.
- Fruits, which are quick to digest, such as oranges, can be consumed closer to the running time. You can consume oranges 15 minutes before running.
All runners are, however, different. It is why there is no need to push your stomach with foods which might be uncomfortable for you.
The foods you eat before going on a run always need to be foods which your stomach is comfortable with and which will not come with digestive issues.
Before putting on your favorite running shoes, you also need to know that carbohydrates play a crucial role in your performance.
Studies show that runners who cover long distances need considerably more carbohydrates which act as a quick source of fuel for the body.
So if you are looking to cover miles and miles every morning, you can increase the quantity and the complexity of the carbohydrates you consume.
Eating After Running
I do not eat immediately after a workout.
There are endless debates on the feeding window you have after running.
There is no need to run straight for the fridge when your training session is over, unless you run every day like Casey Neistat or if you are a professional runner.
However, a healthy refill can be a solid base for proper muscle recovery.
You can now replenish your lower glycogen stores 30 to 60 minutes after running. Proper hydration is crucial, however.
Drinking plain water is hard to match when it comes to feeling better after a run.
The foods you can consume after a workout can be more complex.
If you can go on a run after two pieces of toast, allowing your muscles to recover can mean that you will be able to consume other foods as well, which also includes meats.
Since carbohydrates are the quickest to digest, you can consume foods such as sweet potatoes, rice or quinoa. These carbs can be paired with meats such as salmon, turkey or eggs.
If you don’t have time to cook, a good protein bar or a protein shake can work as well.
Eat Like a Pro
You can run 30 minutes to an hour after eating in the morning. You can also run on an empty stomach from time to time.
If you need some inspiration on the right foods, Mo Farah, the Olympic champion is a great athlete to consider both for me and for many other runners.
I was always thinking about what to eat before a morning run. But as Mo, I like long runs and a complex breakfast is often the best.
Scrambled eggs, oatmeal (porridge) or even toast can all be a great choice.
These foods are a great source of carbs and protein and they do not need a long time to digest, offering a great energy source for those intense runs.
But what do you eat for shorter runs?
If you plan to run for about 30 minutes, the foods you consume early in the morning can be reduced in calories.
Two slices of toast with peanut butter and a good black coffee should be enough to get you going. On the days when I need more energy, I might also add some jam on the toast for the extra boost of sugar.
After a long run, I might not feel like eating right away all the time.
In these conditions, a quality protein shake can offer 200-300 calories which the body needs. I also eat after about 30 minutes when I get home after the run.
Some runners might eat later on after the run, but I prefer to eat well to allow my body to recover. A combination of carbs and protein such as pasta with chicken breast and mushrooms can be a great choice.
A good dinner is also a combination of foods which are quick to digest such as carbs and foods which are slow to digest, such as meats.
On race day things might be different for me.
I’m only eating foods I’m sure my stomach is comfortable with. These foods might be rice and chicken which are prepared with no sauce or heavy seasoning.
Drinking enough water is also a top recommendation on race day.
If you are new to running, you might struggle to find some ideas of foods to consume before or after your run.
But keeping things simple and healthy is always the right way to go. The nutrients in the following foods will help your body run better.
What to Eat Before a Morning Run?
- Carbs – oatmeal, toast, peanut butter, oranges, bananas, pears etc.
- Protein – eggs, Greek yogurt, pumpkin seeds, tofu etc.
- Fats – avocado, almonds, coconut oil, cashews etc.
What to Eat After Running in the Morning?
- Carbs – brown rice, quinoa, couscous, wholewheat pasta, broccoli, peas etc.
- Protein – salmon, chicken, turkey, beef, tuna, nuts.
- Fats – flaxseed, pecans, dark chocolate.
There are various food combinations which can be consumed.
When you are in a rush or when you don’t want to prepare meals, you can consider a smoothie which can offer you the calories your body needs both before and after a running session.
Simple and refreshing smoothies can be made with 2 cups of watermelon, ½ of yogurt and 1 cup of ice.
Don’t Forget About Hydration
Hydration can vary from runner to runner. Depending on how hard you train, you will need to consume plenty of water.
For the best hydration efforts, you will need to drink plenty of water both before and after your running session throughout the day.
Coffee and tea should not be counted along the plain water which your body needs for its essential functions, such as muscle recovery.
But avoiding certain foods can also be important for runners. I specifically stay away from fried foods on training days. This allows me to avoid feeling too heavy and to gain unwanted weight.
So if you were unsure about what to eat before or after a morning run, you now have some guidance and you can apply these tips to your routine.
Consuming the right foods before your running session can offer minimum energy to get you started. Having the right foods after the workout can mean that your body can properly recover from the effort.
If you are looking to lose weight, skipping the pre-run meal from time to time is not the worst approach either.
In most cases, your body will tell you when it needs more fuel to perform better.
Do you eat before running in the morning? What is your preferred meal before going on a run?
Share your top tips in the comments section.
For more information on running and nutrition, you can also subscribe to the official newsletter.