Best Energy Foods for a Morning Run
What should you eat if you are running in the morning?
Should you eat anything at all?
This is a question I get asked a lot and the answer I often give is it depends!
It depends on
- How long you are running for
- Are you running easy or doing a hard speed session
- How much time do you have between getting up and heading out for a run
How long are you running for?
We can store enough carbohydrates in our body to give us energy for up to 2 hours and after 90 minutes we’ll probably start feeling a change in our energy levels.
Which means if you are running in the morning for up to an hour at an easy pace you should have enough energy to keep you going without eating breakfast, as long as you’ve had a carbohydrate rich meal the night before and are fully hydrated. However, not everyone runs at their best in a fasted state.
And if you are planning to run a tough interval session or longer than an hour you will perform better if you eat something to top up your stores.
Porridge made with plant milk and topped with fruit is good for a high carb, low GI pre run breakfast.
How much time do you have?
Ideally, we would eat a carbohydrate rich breakfast 2-4 hours before we run, but that’s not really practical! If you want to run in the morning before work or before you take the kids to school that could mean getting up at 4am or earlier to eat breakfast, allow time to digest and then go for your run. Which is a bit early for most of us!
So instead we can make sure we have a carb rich meal the night before and then top up with a quick to digest snack. Something that contains around 50-70g of high GI carbs will top up our energy stores and give us that energy boost we need.
A smoothie made with bananas, dates, pineapple and melon is easy to digest and will give you that energy hit.
Eating after running
Just as important to what we eat before we run is what we eat after we run.
Again, this depends on how far and how hard you ran but a general guide is to aim to replenish your energy stores with carbohydrate and have some protein to help with muscle recovery. Something with a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein eaten within 30 minutes (for women) and 2 hours (for men) of running is ideal.
Beans on toast or a bagel with nut butter will give you this ratio.
You may want to top up with an additional snack 2-4 hours later, especially after a longer training run. Something with about 50g of carbohydrate would do. Having a banana with a glass of fruit juice would give you this amount of carbs.
So next time you are planning a morning run, don’t just think about the route you will take, but also plan your meals so you know you are giving yourself the best chance to have a fantastic run!