Some people can’t run out of the door without having a snack or something in their stomachs. Others cannot, for any reason, put anything in their mouth before a run, for fear of causing distress to their stomachs.
The theme of sports nutrition is that “every athlete is unique.”
However, we know this doesn’t answer the question of whether you should eat or not before a run.
Eating For Different Types of Run
There are three significant types of run:
These are runs that are done in a very comfortable and conversational pace. You do not need to put in so much pressure or run at a fast speed, and it doesn’t last more than 60 minutes.
These kinds of runs vary based on pace, and they can most times be longer than 90 minutes, the choice is yours.
These have more intensity than easy and long runs, but it is much shorter in duration than the other two types of runs.
Every run needs a different kind of fueling and is associated with different physiologic responses.
Reasons Why You Should Have Something to Eat
Liver glycogen is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels, and this can be reduced overnight. Eating of food even in small quantities right before exercising would help boost your sugar level and reduce your risk of developing hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia can cause fatigue, and blurred vision, and to effectively complete a workout, you need to be physically sound.
Pre-exercise snack is the last opportunity you get to fuel your muscles. When you eat far ahead of a workout, the food is stored up as muscle glycogen, but eating an hour before a workout would cause the food to be used as instant fuel if the intensity of the exercise is low enough for digestion.
Eating before workouts would absorb your stomach juices that may cause discomfort, most especially if it has been a while you ate.
Possible Reasons Why You May Not Want To Eat Before a Run
Most people believe that exercising on an empty stomach would cause your body to use its fat as a source of fuel. Although this is true, you need to know that while your body is burning fat as fuel, it doesn’t mean that you will lose overall body fat. For you to lose overall body fat, there has to be a calorie deficit. If exercising on an empty stomach would make you eat more during the day, then there is no need, as it has already defeated the purpose. Also, you should consider the fact that having a snack before workouts would help you exercise better and harder, which would cause you to burn more calories.
Other people feel that eating before workouts can cause upset stomachs or make them feel lazy and sluggish. However, when you know the exact foods that cause this and avoid them, you can get this issue resolved. Eating the right kind of food moderately during the day and night before your workouts would reduce your appetite and make you eat less throughout the day.
What to Eat Before Each Run
Now that you have understood the importance of eating before going on a run, the next question is “what exactly you should be eating?”
To answer this question, you need to think about the intensity of your run and the time duration.
Your body’s ability to digest a particular type of food is dependent on the intensity of your workout. If you are going at a slow and calculated pace, for about 30 minutes, then your body should be able to absorb and digest a quick meal and use it as fuel.
As the intensity of your workout increases, the blood flow would be diverted from the stomach to the muscles, reducing your body’s ability to absorb and digest food. So, it’s imperative that you plan more on your pre-workout meals than meals for easier runs.
Put Into Consideration Workout Timings
As we mentioned earlier, liver glycogen can be reduced overnight, and this can cause you to wake up with a low blood sugar level. So, you should ensure that your glycogen stores are full during the day and night before your workouts. Just taking a small snack can increase your blood sugar level to normal and keep it at that level.
Workouts in the afternoon or evening allow you enough time to energize your body with carbohydrates and enough liquids. So, you should go for foods that are high in carbohydrates, low in fat, and moderate in protein.