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Food to Eat Before Running

New runners have a lot to think about when they get into the game, such as buying the best clothes, shoes and fitness tracker to equip themselves. They may also wonder what to eat before hitting the sidewalk.

To run successfully, it is essential to nourish your body with good nutrition and keep it sufficiently hydrated before, during and after the race.

Inexperienced runners often make the mistake of eating large meals the day before the race. Overeating can overwhelm your digestive system. You may feel bloated or nauseous during the run.

As with many things, the answer to what to eat before a race depends on finding a healthy balance. You don't want to be hungry or drunk when you start running.

A full stomach can cause extremely painful side stitches, but being hungry will leave you feeling weak and courteous. Instead, the goal should be to eat a light meal or snack about 1 ½ to 3 hours before going out.

What to Eat

When you run, your body needs readily available energy for fuel. The best form comes from carbohydrates. The best choices for an early morning run include fruit such as bananas, apples or berries, a energy bar, oatmeal, yogurt, a bagel with peanut butter, or a simple bowl of cold cereals with milk.

The smart options for a run later today are turkey and cheese on whole wheat bread, quinoa and chicken, or carrots and hummus.

In general, you want to avoid foods high in protein, fiber, and fat, but there is a caveat. Some studies show that eating protein before a workout makes the body continue to burn fat long after you stop exercising.

Protein is also crucial in the development of lean muscle mass. Depending on your training goals, you may want to include protein in a meal before the race, but in this case, you need to give your body a little more time to digest it before you start. Better yet, eat protein soon after training.

Healthy fats can also be a good source of energy, but they take the longest to digest, so they can only be good if you're going to run a very long run, like a marathon.

Sources like nuts and avocados can be a good choice, but greasy fast foods or saturated fats are definitely not recommended. Foods that are rich, fatty or high in fiber will most likely hurt your stomach when you start running.

When to Eat

The goal of a race is to get out and go. It is difficult to do on an empty stomach. So, depending on what you chose as a meal before the race, the basic rule is to wait 1 to 3 hours.

If you have a large meal, wait at least two, but if you only have one snack, it may be a good idea to reduce the waiting time to 30 minutes.

There will be some trial and error in determining your best meal and best time before execution, because everyone's digestive system works a little differently. Many runners like to keep a log of their runs, and part of that may be what was eaten in advance and how you felt.

If you find the timing is tricky, for example, you want to run in the morning and not have time to wait an hour before leaving, just be sure to grab a small snack.

Eat it in your pajamas, then brush your teeth and put on your equipment, so that there is at least a little time for digestion. Start with something light and easy to digest, like toast, a banana or an energy bar.

Hydration is Key

And finally, don't forget to drink water before and after your run. Again, recharging it directly before you start can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, but your cells need fluid to move the fuel.

If you run in the morning, your body will likely start from a somewhat dehydrated state. Let your thirst guide you as to how much to drink, then wait 20 to 30 minutes before going to give your cells time to absorb it. Small drinks of water are good to have throughout your run.

So, in general, the best pre-race meal is a light meal that provides fuel ready for your body. Make choices that are high in carbohydrates, low in protein and fiber, and that contain as little fat as possible.

Give yourself time to digest before you go, but even if you're in a hurry, you need to eat at least a little something. Keeping a running log can help you identify what works best for you. And above all, don't forget to hydrate yourself!

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