What Should You Eat Before & After Running?
Sports nutrition and healthy eating shouldn’t be confusing. Here’s how to do it.
We all know that we should eat well to fuel our running and recover from training. But with so much diet and nutrition advice out there, it can be confusing (and frustrating) trying to work out exactly what to do. Getting sports nutrition right is important for female runners. We need to feel energised but not weighed down, fuelled but not lethargic.
– Should I always eat something before going running?
– Does it matter what I eat before training?
– How soon after running should I eat?
– How many carbohydrates do I need?
– Is protein really that important for women runners?
If you are puzzled by any of these questions (or more), today’s article will help.
What Should Women Runners Eat Before Training?
The purpose of this meal or snack is to fuel your training run. It should help you run at your required intensity and duration so you can get the most from your precious training time. Your body will get most of the fuel for running from carbohydrates (stored in the body as glycogen). So make sure your pre-run meal or snack is based around carbohydrates.
Exactly what this meal or snack consists of is up to you, your food preferences, and your schedule. Good options are potatoes (white or sweet), root vegetables, pasta, rice, oats, or bread (including pittas and wraps). Include a little protein in this pre-run meal (to boost your post-run recovery) but don’t have too much fat in this meal. And don’t forget water, of course!
When Should You Eat Your Pre-Training Meal?
Eat your last meal or snack between 90 minutes and 3 hours before your run. Some women find they can eat something quite close to training without it affecting them, whilst others need longer. Find the sweet spot, without feeling hungry or weighed down. But remember that the body needs at least an hour to actually digest the food and put it to use.
If You Run In The Morning
If you’re an early bird, it will be difficult to eat several hours before your run. So make sure you fuel up with a good meal the night before. The carbohydrate will still be in your system (in the form of muscle glycogen) for your morning run. It doesn’t need to be a huge meal, but make sure you have a good serving of potato, sweet potato, root vegetables, rice, pasta, or other complex carbs. If you are planning a long morning run, you could have a small bowl of oats or cereal just before bed.
If You Run After Work
It’s easy to under eat during the day, so make sure you plan for your after-work run. Don’t expect to feel great if you go out straight after a stressful day where you’ve been too busy to think about food (or water!)
Think about your pre-training meal during the day. Try eating more carbs at lunch, and then have a smaller carb meal about 90 minutes before you leave work. Something like a banana will be fine. Or you could split your lunch meal in two, and have the second half just before you leave work. And be sure to drink lots of water during the day if you plan to run after work.
What Should You Eat After A Run?
After running, you need to eat carbs and protein to set yourself up for recovery. Protein will help rebuild muscle, and the carbs will help get that protein where it needs to be. Try to have 20-40g protein (that’s the grams of the macronutrient, not the weight of the food) within 2-3 hours of finishing your run. Good meal ideas for after running are chicken breast, fillet of fish, lean mince, eggs, cottage cheese, or tuna, plus potato, rice, a pitta or wrap, or pasta. If you like protein shakes (or if they are a convenient source of protein for you), try pouring a cold protein shake over cereal for a protein-packed take on a classic.
Don’t Forget – Water!
Remember to drink water after your run – this goes without saying!