Running gives many people the boost they need to maintain a sound mind and a healthy body. While it is important to start a run with a warm up and end it with a cool down stretch, you should never neglect proper nutrition. Your body needs a constant supply of fuel to keep it efficient, meaning you have to eat before, during, and after a run.
Eating adequate amounts of the right food throughout your run session will keep your muscles pumping, your heart beating, and your lungs working efficiently. It will also help improve your metabolism to keep your burning fat even after your workout.
Before, During & After Running Foods
If you are wondering what types of food you need to consume, here is a list of the best running foods before, during, and after each session:
Pre-run foods help prepare your body for a physical activity. Make sure to load your body with the right fuel an hour before every run, such as:
- Banana: This fruit is filled with complex carbohydrates that your body will burn for fuel. It also contains plenty of potassium, which is a nutrient that will help maintain and improve blood circulation, lower blood pressure, and reduce your risk of stroke. Taking bananas regularly will also prevent you from getting muscle cramps, something that all runners hate.
- Bagels: They are richer in healthy carbs and feel much heavier in the tummy than your average slice of bread. Consuming a bagel before a run will also give you more energy to burn. Layer this bread with a peanut butter or cream cheese for more protein to keep your muscles functioning well. Just make sure to limit your intake because it is loaded with calories, too.
- Low Fat Yogurt: This one is rich in protein, calcium, and carbohydrates. It will not only promote a healthy fat burn, but will also keep your muscles well-fueled and your body energized. It is a well-known energy food for runners, sprinters, joggers, and other athletes engaged in various sports.
- Berries: This is a great way to have a quick energy boost. Berries contain healthy sugar. They are also loaded with antioxidants that fight off cell-damaging free radicals. The vitamin C and potassium in them will help your muscles work better and recover faster. Plus, vitamin C helps keep your body away from illnesses, so you can keep on running whenever you want.
During Run Foods
Your body will slowly run out of fuel as you continue working out. You need to eat the right foods during your run to prevent your energy levels from going down and cutting your workout short. These are the foods that you should eat during a run, so you can keep on going and going:
- Starbursts: These are tiny and yummy candies that are easy to chew as you run. They contain enough sugar that your body will need to stay energized as you run. These little treats are what most runners look forward to because they are soft and delicious.
- Energy Gels: These are small packets of food in gel form that you can suck down during your workout. They are packed with the right amount of carbohydrates, potassium, and – sometimes – electrolytes that you need to stay well-fueld as you run. They are also easy to carry along and will surely come handy whenever you feel tired or hungry.
- Raisins: They are sugar-loaded and healthy at the same time. They are what you need to keep you going whenever your energy levels have gone low. Vegetarians and those who avoid energy gels or candies can eat raisins to keep them going. They usually come in small packs that you can easily bring along. A small amount can already make a difference.
Most, if not all, runners forget to practice post-run nutrition and hydration. This is often a neglected part of a workout, but is as important as a cool down stretch. Your body consumes energy as you run, and you need to replenish all of those lost nutrients afterwards to keep your system well-functioning. This is ideally done right after a cool down. Below is a list of the top post-run foods that you need for recovery:
- Oats: These are rich in complex carbohydrates. They also contain protein and fiber to boost your metabolism and keep your muscles happy. You can add some fruits into a bowl of oats, as well as milk for a healthier and more satisfying recovery snack.
- Hummus: This one is made with chick peas, which are loaded with protein and fiber. Eating hummus after a run will help you feel energized. Since it has protein, your body can efficiently repair your muscles for faster recovery. Make sure to prepare your hummus without garlic and avoid consuming it before your workout.
- Fruits: They are sweet, filling, and refreshing. They can keep your energy levels up, even after a hard run. Apples and oranges are two of your best choices. Oranges are rich in Vitamin C for faster muscle recovery and improved immune system, while apples are loaded with minerals and fiber for more energy.
- Chicken breast: Nothing beats a good chicken breast after a tough workout. It contains lean protein that can fuel your muscles and keep you feeling full for a longer period of time. It has little fat, but has all the nutrients your body needs to repair your muscles. Best of all, chicken breast is easy to prepare.
You may run on empty if you only plan to do an easy run for 30 to 45 minutes. This is because your body has enough reserved energy to last that long without crashing, thanks to your fat stores. It is already necessary to fuel up before a run if it will last for an hour or more.
Exercising is important to stay fit and healthy. However, you need to fuel up before, during, and after a workout to keep your body functioning well. This is true especially for people who want to lose weight as depriving themselves of food will only be detrimental in the long run.