What is the best time to eat – before or after a run?
Whilst some runners prefer to eat before they go for a run and others feel the benefit from eating after, the question remains; which is better for you? Naturally most of the time this is all dependant on how eating makes you feel before or after your workout but another key aspect is what time of the day you go running.
Running early in the morning
If you are an early bird and like a morning run to start your day then you may be better off eating before you leave the house. The last meal you ate from the night before will be fully digested at this point so you will have nothing to fuel yourself. By simply getting up an hour earlier to eat you will be able to stabilise your body and have enough energy to have a full workout. If however you prefer to run later in the day you can wait until after to refuel because of what you have previously eaten in the day. It also may allow you to run faster and for longer because you aren’t weighed down by any food.
It is important to bear in mind how long you are planning to work out for as this can impact when you should eat. If your run will last over an hour then you should eat beforehand. This doesn’t have to be directly before either, simply eating a meal around three hours before should provide you with enough energy.
Choosing the correct amount of food
Choosing the right size meal is important for refuelling, pre and post workout. Generally most runners feel that eating a large meal beforehand makes it a lot harder to perform but equally having too little can make it hard to have the energy to finish. Portion control is key to having sufficient energy and not getting stomach cramps during. Often simply having a healthy snack within an hour before running can give you enough fuel.
Choosing the correct foods
Having the right kind of food is also extremely important as you need to make sure it is easy to digest as well as giving you enough energy to complete your run. Generally carbohydrates are the best way to go, so this is things such as bread or crackers if you want something a little lighter. Slow energy releasing foods such as bananas are also good and won’t give you any cramping. Generally the foods you should be staying away from are the high fat and high fibre foods that will give you digestion issues as you run. The more problems your stomach has digesting these foods, the more likely it is that blood will be taken from your muscles to help. Post run you should be looking at foods with good proteins, healthy fats and carbohydrates such as yoghurts or fruit.
For more information on running and diet, take a look around helenchild.org