10 Things You Can Eat Before Going for a Run

Before you hit the road (or trail) for your run, you need energy to get you in the zone mentally, boost your confidence and give you the power you need. And you need that energy without stomach upset, jitters, or an awful taste.

Pre-run Nutrition Timing

Nutrient timing makes the difference between PRs and P(ort-a-potty)R(uns).  Since protein and fat take longer to digest then carbohydrates, loading them close to a workout can cause stomach issues. Eat foods high in protein, fiber and fat meals more than one hour before your run.1 20 minutes before your workout, eat whole food-based simple carbohydrates, such as fruit, for an instant burst of energy.

These are the 10 best foods and supplements to eat before your run. Unless otherwise noted, you can eat any of these between 20 to 60 minutes before heading out.

1. Vega Sport Pre-Workout Energizer

Energize 20 minutes before your run with Vega Sport Pre-Workout Energizer. If you’re worried about extra water sloshing around in your stomach, mix one serving with just 2 ounces of water for a Power Shot. This concentration ratio allows the product to still dissolve (especially when taken with warm water), but limits the amount of water in your belly right before your run. Just be sure you’re adequately hydrated the night before.

2. Vega Sport Endurance Gel on toast

While Vega Sport Endurance Gel is a mid-workout staple, it also makes a good source of quick energy from carbs right before your workout. Spread it like you would jam on a piece of gluten-free or sprouted grain toast.

3. Fresh fruit

Fruit is one of the best sources of simple carbs for a boost of energy immediately pre-workout. Fruit is easily digestible, can be bought most anywhere (even convenience stores) and easily transported in your running bag.

4. Dates

A good source of both fructose and glucose, dates are easily portable pre-workout whole food. If you’re eating more than an hour before your run, add a spoonful of nut butter.

5. Dried fruit

Don’t let dates capitalize your pre-workout dried fruit game. Apricots (preferably unsulphured), goji berries, dried mango or papaya are all fair game. See if any give you more energy or seem to feel better in your stomach.

6. Fresh-pressed juice  

Sometimes consuming simple carbohydrates from fruit in liquid form settles more easily on your stomach (because the fiber is removed). Fresh cold-pressed juices (organic preferred) can be a good alternative to fresh fruit.

7. Trail mix

If fruit alone gives you instant energy, but your stomach can handle more protein and fat close to your run, and you’d like energy that is sustained throughout your workout, reach for trail mix. Make your own by mixing your favorite nuts, seeds and dried fruit or pick up your favorite combination on your next grocery run.

8. Coconut oil on toast

Unlike most fats, coconut oil is rich in medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are easily digested in your liver. Because they are metabolized more like a carbohydrate, most people can tolerate eating coconut oil closer to their run. If you’d like something more satiating than a spoonful, spread a tablespoon on gluten-free or sprouted grain toast.

9. Oats

Pre-run oatmeal is a good way to get complex carbohydrates to sustain you throughout your run. If eating an oatmeal with more nut butter, seeds or plant-based protein, be sure to eat it at last an hour before your run so you have plenty of time to digest.

10. Beet juice

Beets are a source of dietary nitrates, which may help to increase endurance.1 Grab a shot of beet juice (available at your local natural food store or juice bar).

What is your go-to pre-run meal or snack?

1. American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada and American College of Sports Medicine.(2009) Joint Position Statement: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.41(3):709-31 Accessed 1/30/14 from: http://www.dietitians.ca/downloadable-content/public/noap-position-paper.aspx
2. Ferreira LF, Behnke BJ. (2010). A toast to health and performance! Beetroot juice lowers blood pressure and the O2 cost of exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology 110 (3). Accessed on 4/16/15 from:  http://jap.physiology.org/content/110/3/585.full.pdf+html

Elizabeth Jarrard