We have all heard that you need to wait before running if you have just eaten because this can cause sickness.
Having a large meal or something heavy before you go for a run can lead to cramping, pain in the stomach, and digestive problems, so it is something you need to consider carefully if you are wanting to take care of your health.
It is important to know that you should eat before a run, but you should not work out on a full stomach. What you eat before a run can impact your performance and the way you feel, which is why we have created this guide.
Learning what foods to have before running and how long you should wait after eating is vital when training, which is why we have written this article. We are going to be giving you tips and advice which will hopefully answer your questions about foods and running.
The General Rules
If you are going on a run, then you need to have something on your stomach to prevent digestion issues. But the foods you have and how long you wait to run afterward is something to think carefully about, as it could interfere with the body’s digestion process resulting in cramps or discomfort.
A general guideline that runners could follow is to wait three to four hours after a large meal before going for a run. These 4 hours could give the body the time it needs to digest the food and give the nutrients to vital organs, which can aid you when running.
Some runners choose to have snacks or a drink instead of a meal before running.
If you have eaten a small meal or a snack, then wait to run for around 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how you feel after eating.
Runners need to wait before exercising to support digestion and give their body time to develop the energy for running, which it gets from food.
Some people recommend forgoing eating large meals altogether and instead opt for smaller portions of 200 to 300 calories before running. This is something runners do when running a marathon, as it is easier for the body’s systems to digest light foods in a short length of time, like 30 minutes before the start of the race.
Whatever you are eating before running, whether that is meals, snacks, or a drink, should contain carbohydrates in some form.
Carbohydrates are great for runners as they provide the fuel necessary for muscle contraction in the body. They have some great benefits, which is why you should be eating them before running, but carbs do also spend a lot of time in the body’s digestion system, where nutrients are broken down and given to internal organs. This is why you need to wait before going on a run after eating, and depending on what you need, it can be anything from two hours to four hours.
What is tricky about giving tips for runners is the fact that everyone is different. This means that what you need to keep your blood flow going can vary drastically based on individual matters. For some people, a light snack is all that is needed, but others need something more substantial to have the energy needed for exercise.
This is why, although they can be useful and are a great starting point, the general guidelines given to runners are not something to follow strictly when working on your health and fitness.
How long you need to wait to run after eating can differ based on your needs and your health, but to help you out, we are going to recommend some tips regarding food before running and how long, on average, you will need to wait after eating these before working out.
What Should I Eat Before Running?
It is important to fuel your body before an exercise session, but the best way to do this can vary based on your needs. Eating too much or too little before a run can lead to discomfort, nausea and can cause digestive issues, which is why this is not a topic to take lightly.
A light snack before your workout or exercise is a good way to keep the blood flow to your stomach going and will prevent nausea, cramps, and feeling discomfort. There are some snacks that you can have before a run that can provide the fuel your body needs for running.
What is best for you differs based on the time of day you like to go for a run, as digestion patterns change during the day.
Those who like to run in the morning usually do not have a lot of time for a large meal before their workout, but this is not an excuse to not eat anything before running.
If you run first thing in the morning, it has been hours since your body last had some fuel which can cause nausea and discomfort during your exercise session. This is why you need to eat a light snack around 30 minutes to one hour before going for a run.
Your snack or breakfast should contain carbohydrates and protein so it can replenish the glycogen stores in the body, such as:
- A banana with a tablespoon of peanut butter
- An energy bar or a granola bar, which offers fiber
- A small portion of yogurt and fruit
- A whole-grain bagel, low calories
- Oatmeal and fruit
You can also opt for a healthy drink before your run, such as a fruit smoothie.
The best advice for those who like to run in the middle of the day is to have a full hearty breakfast, complete with fiber, protein, and carbohydrates, around 3 hours before your run.
Around an hour before your workout, it is best to have a small snack instead of a big meal.
Some ideas for what can give you the fuel you need for a lunchtime run include:
- Cereal or oatmeal
- Half a peanut butter sandwich, whole grain bread is best
- A small smoothie drink
- A handful of nuts, such as cashews, almonds, or pistachios which are a source of healthy fat
Running in the late afternoon or evening can result in hunger pangs and cramps if you do not opt for some kind of pre-workout snack. Running on an empty stomach can be painful due to the cramps and nausea it can cause.
To keep the blood flow to the stomach going well and to make sure you are fuelling your body, you should have a small meal or snack before your evening run. Our advice is to try something like:
- Crackers and a cheese stick, low fat
- An energy bar or low-fat granola bar
- Half a nut butter sandwich with jelly
Wait an hour before running after your afternoon snack or wait two hours after a large meal to give your body a chance to digest the food. After this time, you should have the energy needed for your run without having to worry about cramping or discomfort as you workout.
Can I Eat When Running?
Runners that participate in long-distance runs, such as a half-marathon, will need to keep their energy up so they can reach the finish line. If your runs are under 2 hours, then generally, you will only need water or a sports drink to keep you going.
Anything over 2 hours may require additional help, but it can be hard to eat as you run. This is where energy bars, energy gels, and sports drinks can come in very useful in keeping your energy levels high without the risk of nausea or sickness.
In most cases, eating should be left for before or after a run to support the digestive process. Leave eating until a few hours before your run based on the kinds of food you are eating.
After you have completed your workout, there are various supplements and protein-heavy foods that you can eat to aid muscle recovery.
The length of time you should wait to run after eating can vary based on your own needs as well as the kind of food you have eaten.
It can be hard to tell people how long they should wait after eating to run because our bodies operate differently. However, there are some guidelines that most runners can follow which should keep them on the right track.
There are some delicious and healthy ideas for food to eat before running, which will provide you with the energy needed to reach the finish line.
Taking care of your health requires thinking carefully about not only the exercise you do but also the food you eat.