What You Should Really Eat Before Your Run

By:  Bonnie Pfiester

Published:  July 2017


People run for many different reasons. Some people run to burn off steam, while others run for the sport of it. Cardio lovers, however, may not care so much about burning off steam or achieving a new PR, as much as they want to just burn off stubborn fat.


So, needless to say, not all runners are created equal – nor is the way they fuel up before they hit the road.


Here are 3 different ways to fuel for your run.


1. Running on empty for fat loss

You probably have heard of people running on an empty stomach. However, this is not a smart idea if you are about to run a marathon or hit some power sprints. Your body needs fuel to perform well.


However, running on an empty stomach is very effective for fat loss. Why? Because running on an empty stomach forces the body to burn stored fat.


If you eat before hopping on the treadmill, your body will prefer to use your last meal for energy. But, most cardio lovers would rather use fat stores instead. The only way to make sure your body is tapping into fat stores is to not give it another energy source.


Short Easy Trips: You don’t have to fill up for the short easy trips, as long as you are doing a light to moderate workout for ninety minutes or less.


2. Fill ‘er up to go the distance


The same way you’d never hit the interstate without filling all the way up, you don’t want to run a marathon without enough fuel in the tank. I’m not just talking about our stomach. I’m talking about your entire body.


Think of your body as a reserve tank. If you have ever experienced running out of gas while drying a motorcycle, you know how thankful you are they come with reserve tanks. As soon as your bike starts to spit and sputter, you can switch over to reserve and your motor will kick back in.


The same happens with your body. It’s not enough to just eat right before a long run. You need to make sure you have enough in reserve too. You do this by getting the proper fuel (nutrition) one to three days prior to race day, depending on the distance.


It’s also important to get the right fuel. While many people treat race day as a chance to carb load and eat whatever they want, crappy gas won’t take you far. So choose premium fuel for premium performance.


Cross country trips: Fill up on a healthy balanced meal that includes low glycemic carbohydrates, lean protein and a little healthy fat. You want to avoid foods that could cause gastrointestinal issues like legumes, dairy, fibrous vegetables, fatty meats and sugary refined carbohydrates.


3. Top it off to kick it off


If you have already filled up your reserve tanks properly, you just need to top it off before you hit the road for a long run. The idea is to prime the tank, not overflow it. In other words, don’t stuff yourself.


Lastly, treat each run like a science project, taking notes on how different foods make you feel or perform. Adjust portions, food choices and timing based on your own experience and results.


Long day trips: An ideal pre-run meal may only need to be around 200-300 calories depending on the length of your run. It’s best to eat at low-fat and low-fiber foods that are familiar and easy to digest.

Steve & Bonnie Pfiester have been seen in Fitness Magazine, Shape, ABC, VH1, Lifetime TV, Women’s Health Magazine, US Today, Travel Channel and Oxygen Magazine, and worked in the fitness industry for most of their 20 years of marriage. Coined “The Dynamic Duo” by fitness industry leaders, the power team runs their gym, Max Fitness Club, trains clients and teaches BCx Boot CampTM together in Vero Beach, Florida.


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