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What diet to integrate before a run

Updated: Aug 9, 2022

Running 3.1 miles -a stretch is quite an achievement. For you to perform your best, your body will need proper fueling.

In this case, you need balanced food - so as not to overeat and feel sluggish during your run.

Running on an empty stomach is highly unhealthy, and should never be practised.

Running is a high-endurance activity; thus, your running regime will be the same post and pre-training.

How to build a training-diet regime

A sound training-diet regime is a must for a successful finish to the race. Running is directly proportional to training! - Training is directly proportional to nutrition!! Do you see the connection between the three?

‘Carbs’ act as an excellent source of fuel for exercise. While working out, the carbohydrates saved as glycogen in muscles gives energy to your body to endure the physical stress.

You can burn around 100 calories/mile doing aerobic exercises - ‘Running’. For runners, the ‘holy grail diet’ - carbohydrates, fat and protein, makes all the endurance(short + long) training cum runs possible for them.

Eating carbs before your training run isn’t a sin, so relax!! However, overeating before a run can be a sinful step towards your health.

Infusing the body with proper fuel at the right time- is the cue to a successful run

Here are a few guidelines on when to eat before a run:

  • Eat 3- 4 hrs before training.

Fill your meal with a balanced amount of carbohydrates, fats(healthy) and protein. This complex mix takes time to digest and is an excellent choice for evening runs.

For instance, Chickpea Egg Salad Sandwich, whole grain bread with peanut butter + apple, avocado-egg salad, bread + smashed veggies, oatmeal - is a well-balanced diet for 3-4 hours before a run.

  • Eat 1-2 hours before training.

Before a run, you don’t want to feel bloated. A light snack mixed with protein and carbs will suffice. Your body needs sufficient carbs to keep you running.

You need to keep your body light but not empty 1-2 hrs prior to a run.

For instance, you can opt for low-fat energy bars, little yoghurt + fruits, a bit of fruit smoothie, avocado toast or berries + whipped cream.

  • Eat 40-60 min training.

The most convenient snack (not a meal!) 45-60 mins before running - are bite-sized carbs. For instance, opt for fresh fruit bites, carrot sticks with peanut butter or dips, toasted pumpkin seeds, etc.

Why keep yourself hydrated

Water is an essential element of our body. During workout sessions, especially endurance training, the more you sweat, the more your body needs hydration.

Dehydration can bring a chunk of unpleasant health signs - cognitive damage, stress, abdominal pain, etc. It is easy to tell others to keep a tab on hydration based on their “thirst” level.

However, most of the time, even if you don’t feel thirsty doesn’t mean you are hydrated. On average, the body loses 450mL of water per day- the dehydration level may increase or decrease based on habits and circumstances.

Here are four ways to check your hydration level:

  1. Examine your urine

  2. Try pinching your skin

  3. Check your pee intervals

  4. Assess - the “Do I feel thirsty?” feeling

With 10-15% water loss in the body, signs of dry skin, less urine output, muscle cramps, etc., can be seen; water loss > 15% can be fatal to the body. Therefore, water intake throughout the day will be a wise choice to make.

Be it - ‘the balanced diet’ or ‘sufficient hydration’, this training regime is similar to race day. Keep yourself hydrated pre, in, and post-run and make it to the finish line happily.

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