What To Eat Before and After A Run (And What Foods To Avoid)

Knowing what to eat before a run can help you keep your energy up and stay hydrated.

When planning for a run, choose foods that are easy to digest and provide steady energy. 

The body needs glucose for energy, which comes from carbohydrates. 

So, it’s best to eat carb-rich foods before a run. 

Studies show that these foods, especially complex carbs, break down into glucose, thus fueling your muscles effectively. 

Fat and protein may also be helpful, but the primary energy source should remain carbs with a ratio of 4:1.

What To Eat Before Going For A Run

Here are a few items that are great pre-run meals.

1) Fruits

Bananas, oranges, and cherries are good for quick, natural sugars and energy.

2) Whole grains

Oatmeal, whole grain bread with peanut butter, or pasta provide sustained energy release.

3) Starchy vegetables

Potatoes or sweet potatoes are nutrient-rich and energy-dense.

4) Lean Proteins

A small amount of lean meat, yogurt, or a boiled egg can be included, but keep the portion small as proteins digest slower.

5) Steamed or boiled rice

Rice provides quick energy and is low in fiber, reducing the risk of gastrointestinal issues during the run. Combine it with lean protein for a nutritious pre-run meal.

6) Coffee

Some studies indicate that consuming coffee 45–60 minutes before running may reduce perceived effort, fatigue, and discomfort while enhancing mental alertness and awareness.

But if caffeine sensitivity is a concern, it’s advisable to avoid it. 

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Foods To Avoid Eating Before Going Running

While generally healthy, some foods are not ideal choices to eat before a run. It’s best to avoid these otherwise beneficial foods right before heading out for a run. They include:

1) High-Fiber Foods

Broccoli, apples, pears, nuts, and seeds can be challenging to digest, perhaps resulting in cramps or gas.

2) Heavy Protein Meals

Chicken and red meat should be avoided before a run since they can be difficult to digest and impair performance. 

3) Fried Foods and Snacks

Potato chips provide carbs but are also rich in fats, which are digested slowly and can cause discomfort.

4) Spicy Foods

Chilies and other spices should be avoided before running, as they can cause heartburn or indigestion. 

5) Fatty Foods

It’s advisable to avoid foods high in healthy fats, like avocados, almonds, and full-fat cheeses, due to their high-fat content. 

Should I Eat Before A Run?

Eating before a long run is essential. But for shorter runs under 90 minutes, studies suggest that it’s often unnecessary as your body has enough glycogen stores.

However, running without eating beforehand is only suitable for some and might lead to feeling drained mid-run. So, paying attention to your body and altering your pre-run diet is important.

How Long Before A Jog Should You Eat?

The timing of the meal matters. Eating too close to a run can cause cramps and discomfort, while running on an empty stomach can lead to a lack of energy and dehydration. 

The ideal timing for eating before a run varies based on the meal’s size and composition. 

A full meal is best consumed approximately three to four hours before a long run, allowing sufficient digestion and energy conversion time. 

Similarly, eating 30 to 60 minutes before the run is typically acceptable for a smaller snack.

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Foods To Eat After Running

Post-run nutrition is equally as important as pre-run nutrition. It has been found to maintain glycogen levels, reduce muscle protein breakdown, and enhance muscle protein synthesis.

A post-run meal should consist of a balanced combination of carbohydrates and protein, as carbohydrates replenish glycogen, the body’s stored energy, and protein aids in muscle repair and recovery. 

Based on the above recommendation, here are some excellent choices for post-run meals:

1) Chocolate Milk

Studies show chocolate milk is an excellent option for post-run recovery. It offers a balanced combination of carbohydrates and protein in a 4:1 ratio, which helps replenish energy stores and supports muscle repair.

2) Protein shakes

Whey protein shakes are popular post-run due to quick digestion and absorption. They are superior to other protein powders, like casein or soy, and contain nine essential amino acids for muscle recovery.

3) Carbohydrates

Opt for whole grains like quinoa or brown rice, which release sustained energy.

4) Proteins

Lean protein sources like chicken breast, tofu, or Greek yogurt support muscle recovery.

5) Fruits

Incorporate fruits such as berries, which offer antioxidants and natural sugars.

6) Vegetables

Include nutrient-dense options like leafy greens or broccoli for essential vitamins and minerals.

7) Healthy Fats

Healthy fats like avocados, nuts, or nut butter can aid nutrient absorption and make you feel fuller. 

8) Water

Along with proper eating, hydration after a run is vital since it impacts both performance and health. 

Research suggests hydrating with 5-10 ounces of water (150-295 ml) before a run and around 20-20 ounces (500-600 ml) afterward. 

Also, drinking water every 15 minutes during a run is suggested. 

Sources suggest that cold water or an icy slush is excellent and improves performance.

For optimal results, it’s typically advised to consume a post-run meal within 30 to 45 minutes after completing the run. 

Waiting longer, beyond two hours, to intake carbohydrates can result in a significant 50% reduction in glycogen synthesis, vital for replenishing the body’s energy stores.

What Not To Eat After Jogging

While plenty of food might help you refuel after a run, others can harm your recovery.

1) High-Fat Foods

Like pre-run nutrition, post-run meals should avoid high-fat foods, which can slow down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and proteins, crucial for replenishing energy stores and repairing muscles. 

2) Sugary Snacks and Drinks

Sugary snacks and drinks can hinder recovery by causing rapid blood sugar spikes and affecting the body’s glycogen replenishment process.

3) Alcohol

Alcohol should also be avoided for at least an hour after a run. Since it’s a diuretic, it can contribute to losing water and salt—two elements your body requires for recovery after a run. 


To support your running experience, consider incorporating easily digestible carbohydrates before a run and limiting heavy proteins and fried foods.

Post-run, focus on carb and protein-rich foods for recovery. At the same time, proper hydration is essential for peak performance.

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