Fueling on the run can be tricky. First, there’s the issue of mechanics: getting something into your mouth and down your throat while in motion. Second, finding what works with your digestion—again, while running—is key. Even foods that are easily digestible while sitting at home can react differently in your system due to the jostling and effort of running.
So how much fuel, and what kind of fuel, do you need to consume? The short answer: It depends. Here’s a guide to help determine what will work best for you.
Get To Know Your Body
Your body is unique, and your nutrition needs will be, too. For example, heavier runners will often need more mid-run fuel than lighter runners, and people with faster metabolisms will burn through calories and require more food than those with slower metabolisms.
Experimenting is the only way to determine what pre-, post-, and mid-run nutrition will work for you. A good rule of thumb is to experiment on training runs, but when race day comes around, stick to familiar and proven fare. Follow a few general guidelines to figure your fueling needs.
What To Eat Before a Run
Generally speaking, it’s best to stick to simple carbohydrates before a run. Avoid consuming large amounts of fat and protein, which take longer to digest. It’s also best to avoid high-fiber foods and coffee, both of which can necessitate finding a bathroom mid-run. Examples of good pre-run simple carbohydrates include:
Consuming a small amount of fat or protein before longer runs can be a good idea: The slower digestion times for these foods can provide more sustained energy for longer efforts. Try adding cream cheese or peanut butter to toast or oatmeal, or add small amounts of avocado, cheese, or nuts to other pre-run meals.