Much like how every runner will prefer a different training style and motivational Spotify playlist, whether you eat before a run is a very individual preference. It can be a tricky decision to make, made even more challenging with changing schedules, busy lifestyles and varying hunger!
Some simply won't function without a solid meal before a run, but others will feel faster and more focused when fasted. Although we can’t give you the answer, we can give you these tips to help you figure it out...
First of all, consider:
Is this going to be a long training run, tough speed session, or an easy recovery jog?
What time is it? Are you running early, midday or late in the day?
Do you usually eat before a workout?
Think about the purpose of eating and how it could boost your performance. Are you trying to hold off hunger until you get home? Or do you need usable fuel for the early stages of your workout (and more muscle glycogen for later on)?
If you're an early morning runner, low blood sugar from fasting overnight can cause some problems— even during easy seasons. Blood glucose is our brain's source of fuel, which is why you may find yourself feeling light-headed, fatigued and irritable when running before breakfast.
As a general rule of thumb, if your workout is an hour or less, going without food probably won’t do you any harm, as long as you’re well hydrated. For anything longer or more intense, it’s a good idea to have eaten a meal 3-4 hours before or a small snack in the last 1-2 hours. Remember: if you don't want to run on empty (pun intended!) you need to have fuel in the tank!
So you've decided you need fuel. When it comes to deciding WHAT to eat, remember:
For large meals – wait for 2 to 4 hours before running
For light meals – wait for 2 hours before running
For light snacks – wait for 30 minutes to 1 hour before running
If you're searching for something light and easy to digest, whether it's early in the morning or as a late afternoon snack, a whey or vegan protein shake with your favourite plant-based milk should do the trick. Alternatively, grab half a banana & a flat white for a caffeine boost.
When you need a larger meal, we don’t think you can do much better than a bowl of protein oats. Try our classic chocolate oats recipe or runner’s overnight oats. If oatmeal isn't your thing, our PB espresso shake should give you the energy kick you need.