This is the best food to eat before and after a run
Everyone has heard different advice on what food you should eat when you exercise. For example, carbo-loading like marathon runners do before a big race to up their glycogen stores for a high-intensity performance.
But for the regular runner going for a 30-45 minute morning jog, there are lots of other good foods to eat before and after to optimize your workout. Proper fueling will help power you up and a healthy post-run snack or meal will allow your muscles to recover afterwards.
The best times to eat
To begin with, when possible, don’t run on an empty stomach. Low blood sugar can lead to lightheadedness and fatigue. “The body needs calories in order to provide energy,” says Mindy Solkin, a professional running coach with The Running Center in Philadelphia.
When you run first thing in the morning, your body has digested and used most of the calories from last night’s dinner. “You truly will be ‘running on empty,’” Mindy says. “It’s best to get some carbohydrates in your system like a banana, rice cake, or piece of whole wheat toast, even with a little almond butter.”
If you fuel correctly, you’ll work out harder and healthier, according to Amanda Dale, a certified personal trainer, sports nutritionist, and running coach with ThisFitBlonde.com. Here are some of Dale’s nutrition tips to get you going:
What to eat before a run
Half a banana has all the carbs and natural sugars you need to get going for a shorter-distance effort, says Dale. She also advises that you “save the other half for post-run!” The potassium in a banana can even help you avoid muscle cramps and stave off fatigue during a run.<
Another quick option is half a cup of organic rolled oats cooked with half a cup of soy or almond milk (dairy before a run is a strict no-no) and topped with half a cup of sliced bananas for sustained energy. Add a few slivered almonds for some added crunch and extra protein, and you're good go!
- Energy gels or chews:
If you can't stomach food before a run, try an energy gel or chew to get that carbohydrate boost your body needs to make it through a longer-duration effort.<
- Sweet potato:
These easily digestible carbs are a great source of fiber, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and B6. Have a small, baked, boiled, or microwaved sweet potato with the skin on to boost your performance.
What to eat after a run
Calories are key after an endurance effort; try half a banana with one tablespoon of natural peanut or other nut butter to replenish your body's glycogen stores. This snack will make you feel comfortably full after burning energy on your run and will keep hunger at bay until its time for your next big meal!
A delicious smoothie is the perfect post-run snack. Try our Chiquita mini banana and coconut cream tropical smoothie to get a refreshing burst of coconut with plenty of protein from the almond and coconut milk. You can even add in a scoop of protein or peanut butter powder to up the benefits after your work out.
If you're on the go after a run, pack two hard-boiled eggs for a high-protein power burst in a few bites that you can have anywhere. They provide protein to help speed muscle recovery in a conveniently lean and low-calorie package—and they're tasty, too!
- Meat or meat substitute:
If you decide to take a slightly longer run (60 minutes or more), refuel with an early lunch rather than a snack: 400-500 calories of protein, carbs, and fat. For example, a 4-ounce chicken breast with half a sweet potato and a spinach salad with olive oil and lemon dressing
And don’t forget to drink lots of water, especially if you run first thing in the morning! Long distance runners also need sports drinks with much-needed electrolytes so they don’t become dehydrated. With your hunger satisfied and a bottle of water, you're ready to run!
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