love to run blog

Tips on Eating Before Running

Erin Hesch May 26, 21

Eating for pleasure is very different from eating for fuel. Runners need the energy to maintain endurance and to prevent a wave of fatigue from turning that jog into a power walk – or a seat on the bench. Eating before running can be tricky to navigate but in this article, you will receive some tips on how to do so effectively. Proper hydration is important as our bodies sweat to cool us down. Nutrition prior to a run can also impact your thinking, mood, physical recovery.

It’s easy to think that eating before running is a bad idea. What if you get nauseous on a full stomach? Can a meal in your system slow you down?  How can you prevent cramping? The other side of the coin is that you’ll get hungry burning those calories and expelling your fluids. Ultimately, it’s about striking a balance.  

Eating before a run comes down to what works for you personally, but a general rule is that runners consume a light meal about two hours prior to starting their route. If that doesn’t work with your schedule, a light snack about an hour before is also appropriate.

What to incorporate:


Carbs serve as an energy goldmine. This list includes some easy options like fruit, potatoes, starchy vegetables, steamed or boiled rice, whole grain bread/pasta.

A note on whole grains: they offer more nutrients because they are minimally processed. Whole grains retain more vitamins, zinc, iron, and fiber which was helping people feel fuller for longer.


Protein provides runners with energy and even serves to restore tissue that is damaged during exercise. Like fiber, protein keeps people feeling fuller for longer. According to this scientific journal article, a single egg provides approximately 12.6% of daily protein. Additionally, an egg’s amino acids target muscle repair and recovery.  


Hydration prior to a run should revolve around a personalized hydration plan. However, the American College of Sports Medicine suggests that runners should drink fluids (ideally, water) starting four hours prior to the start time.  If urine is not clear when it passes, gradually increase fluid intake. A helpful guide is to consume about 5-7 milliliters per kilogram of body weight.

Here are some ideas to help you craft your pre-run nourishment:

  • Spread a tablespoon or two of peanut butter on a bagel 
  • Add some fresh berries to your bowl of oatmeal for a lighter treat
  • For something heftier, stack a serving of sliced turkey and cheese on whole-wheat bread

As a runner, it’s important to know the course of your own digestion system. With these tips, trial and error will allow you to learn more about your body and how to optimize its ability to run trails or marathons. Eating before running isn’t bad if you know what you’re doing.

Be sure to check out our entire website,, for more running advice!


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