Knowing what to eat before a morning run is critical in your overall performance. It can affect your endurance, speed and overall weight loss.
When I was getting into running, I constantly “just eat a bunch of carbs, and you’ll be perfectly fine”.
And honestly, in certain situations that is perfectly fine, but…
I thought I could eat some cheez it’s, chips, or fries before a run, and I could still have the body of Chris Hensworth (or for some readers Gal Gadot). But, boy I was totally wrong.
Below is a list of foods that you should eat and definitely NOT eat before a run.
What Not to Eat Before a Run
Before we get into the food that can definitely help in during your runs, let’s go over the food that are going to hold you back in your runs (and definitely make you regret eating them).
You know the old saying don’t eat within 30 mins of swimming or else you’ll get a cramp. Yah, apply that to dairy, but crank it 5x times!
Dairy is fantastic for after a run or post workout food, but if you have dairy before a run, you are just asking for stomach pains.
On paper dairy doesn’t sound that bad before a run with the decent amount of carbs and protein. However…
It’s not easy for the body to digest dairy because of lactose and especially true for people with lactose intolerance.
So next time consider if you should have that glass of chocolate milk before a run, reconsider drinking dairy
High Fat Foods
This one should be obvious, but it’s okay if it’s not. Don’t have fatty greasy food right before a run.
How many times have you seen an Olympic track and field athletes eat a large Big Mac meal before a run? (I’m guessing not many)
Unlike rice or pasta, high fatty foods take some time to digest. Even after the human body has processed the food from your stomach it’s take a while for it to be useful energy.
When you go for a run or any kind of workout, your body is initially going to burn the remaining carbs in your body.
Once your body has realized it’s depleted its resource of carbs. Your body will slowly begin burning already fat.
So, unless you plan on running for over an hour at a time… maybe you should rethink about having a burger or hot dog before runs.
I recommend that you avoid those delicious greasy foods right before a run. ( But who am I to say for after a run or workout!)
Sugar is a carb, and it is recommended that you should have carbs before a run.
By that logic it means you should eat a candy bar before a run or workout, right?
No, because not all carbs are the same, and let me explain.
Carbs can be broken down into two main categories Simple and Complex.
Complex carbs such as whole grains and oats contain more nutrients and fiber meaning the energy from them is much more long lasting and stable.
Simple carbs such as sugars break down fast.
For instance, if you give kids a candy bar, they’ll get a wild crazy sugar rush, then crash.
So if you want perform well during your half marathon races or even cardio workouts try to stick to the complex carbs NOT those amazing sugary sweets.
I’ve seen people struggle to just to sit at the dinner table after eating spicy food.
Let me be clear, people struggle to hold in tears after eating spicy food. (and you want to add running into the mix!)
So combining two things that are painful enough on their own just equals a recipe for disaster.
Therefore, I would strongly reconsider working out after eating that spicy Thai or Mexican food.
What to Eat Before a Run
Now, that we have gotten past what not to eat let’s get into what you should eat if you are hungry before a run.
Just remember eating this food is not going to make you as fast as Usain Bolt, but it can give you an extra boost in performance.
Bananas are a go to food for running and working out.
They are quick and easy to eat especially if you do not feel like cooking first thing in the morning
There is a reason when you attend a marathon or 5K race that they are basically shoving bananas down your throat! (and no not the reason your dirty mind is think of )
Seriously, with bananas containing complex carbs, being low in fat and low in calories. This makes bananas ideal for a weight loss workout, or pre-run fuel.
So the next time you absolutely need to eat before a run or workout, peel one of these open.
Steel Cut Oats
For a pre-cardio workout, any kind of oat whether it’s instant oats or rolled oats is great due the high density of complex carbs. But Steel cut stand above the rest.
Steel Cut Oats have minimal food processing allowing for them to be packed with more fiber and protein.
I know plain Oats may not be the most taste food in world, so I recommend adding a bit of fruit to help give it some flavor (strawberry, and blueberries are perfect ).
If you need to know what to eat before a morning run, steel cut oats meal is a great fuel source first thing in the morning.
Granola is packed with high complex carbs, decent fiber and some protein, so it seems like a great pre-workout fuel.
However, there is a major catch with this one.
Your average packed snack with granola no matter if it’s for cereal or granola bar contains a lot of added sugar, so read the label and be careful.
Now, I know I understand in the modern era that it’s hard to avoid sugar (those subway cookies are sooo good), so it’s something to consider when using this a pre workout food.
No matter if its almonds, peanuts, cashews, or walnuts, these guys are good if you are looking for a quick snack before a run.
If you are planning doing a longer run, nuts offer natural fats & complex carbs which can give you stable fuel for the long runs and can offer protein to help repair and strengthen the muscles after the run.