Fuel Up Pre- & Post-Run with These Meals & Snacks

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Fuel Up Pre- & Post-Run with These Meals & Snacks

Running on an empty stomach isn’t for everyone—especially when the training plan calls for major effort with distance, speed, or both! But lacing up with a full tummy isn’t exactly a recipe for success either. “You want to make sure you have enough fuel in the tank to get through your workout, but not so much that it leads to GI distress,” says recent marathoner and MyFitnessPal registered dietitian Elle Penner, M.P.H, R.D. Here are her tips for pre- and post- run fueling.

Before Your Run Pre-fuel with a carbohydrate-rich snack 30 to 60 minutes before you hit the pavement. “Be sure to avoid high-fiber and fat—they take more effort for your body to digest and can cause an upset stomach while striding,” says Penner. Good options include a piece of fruit, a slice of toast with jam, or a low-fiber granola bar. More smart tips:

  • Drink a tall glass of water to hydrate and help digest your snack before heading out.
  • Stay away from orange or grapefruit juice, the acidity can irritate your stomach.
  • Consider hydrating with diluted sports drink instead of water—the added carbohydrates will help keep you going.

After Your Run Re-fuel with a meal or snack that contains complex carbohydrates and protein within 1 hour of your sweat session to replenish glycogen stores and encourage muscle repair. “A piece of fruit and a small handful of nuts is all you need after a run lasting 60 minutes or less, but you’ll want to have something more substantial after longer distances and harder efforts,” says Penner. Some post-training meal ideas:

  • A Greek yogurt parfait with granola, fruit, and a sprinkle of nuts or seeds
  • A smoothie made with Greek yogurt, frozen berries, and sliced avocado, a dollop of peanut butter, or flax or chia seeds for a dose of healthy fats
  • Oatmeal (made with milk for added protein), topped with dried or fresh fruit, nuts, or nut butter
  • An omelette made with whole eggs and sautéed veggies (think: spinach, tomato, caramelized onions), a slice of whole grain toast, and a cup of reduced-fat milk.

What’s your go-to pre-run snack? And what do you reach for when you’re done? Tell us in the comments below!

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15 responses to “Fuel Up Pre- & Post-Run with These Meals & Snacks”

  1. Avatar Ona says:

    Today I had homemade wholemeal toasted (with flaxseed flour) with lb+j before and toasted pita (half) with a can of sardines in mustard sauce with 29 floz of flavoured water.

    • Avatar Rachelboing says:

      I recently made a chickpea salad with coriander, cucumber, chilli and radish and a honey-lime dressing to have after exercising. That with some wholemeal bread makes a pretty good recovery meal 🙂

  2. […] Step 4: Eat and drink plenty Hydration is a key element to successful running. Your body will want extra fluids to rebuild and get stronger after each run. Likewise your body will need to be fueled with a balanced and healthy diet. (Click here for pre- and post-exercise fueling tips.) […]

  3. Avatar Noren Rodriguez says:

    before runing I do half of a medium banana and after almost 2 glasses of water and regular breakfast with whole wheat bread, egg (complete), or turkey breast ham, and fruit.

  4. Any favorite vegan pre/post run snacks? I generally do a fair amount of nuts, pasta, rice, beans and whole vegetables (_lots_ of these), as well as PB & J, especially on days when I run. As a rule, I also avoid, but definitely don’t attempt to altogether eliminate, soy, as it’s often a hallmark of vegan junk food (even though I’m ambivalent about the xenoestrogen arguments). Always interested to hear what other active vegans are doing workout nutritionwise though.

    • Avatar lalgirl says:

      My favorite vegan post run snack is my smoothy recipe: hemp milk, hemp protein powder, frozen banana, frozen blueberries, oats, kale (de-stemmed), walnuts, chia seeds, fresh ginger, lots of ground cinnamon, and topped off with water and ice. Blend it up in a Vitamix and it’s a yummy, healthy vegan treat!

      • That sounds fantastic! I haven’t really done hemp milk yet, so I’ll need to give it a try. Thanks for the recipe.

        • Avatar lalgirl says:

          Hemp milk is awesome and healthy, although it did take some getting used to at first. I was looking for an alternative to soy milk since soy seems to be in almost everything. Lots of the smaller coffee shops in Seattle are now serving hemp lattes–way better than soy lattes. Try Pacific Natural Foods Original hemp milk if you can get it.

  5. Avatar Abbie says:

    I run in the afternoon, so to start the day, I usually have what I call an energy shake, which consists of half a cup of frozen strawberries, blueberries, one and a half cups of orange juice, and a tablespoon of organic spirulina powder (its a type of algae but amazing for your health!). Most of the time I add an English muffin in on the side with peanut butter to have something solid. Lunch is usually a sandwich on whole wheat bread with banana slices and peanut butter, an apple, and Greek yogurt (sometimes I add organic sun dried-unsulfured Calimyrna figs as a side because they are a great source of carbs). About a half hour before my actual run (20 minutes before my warm-up), I eat a Quaker Chewy Granola Bar- chocolate chip. My runs are usually five to six miles or intense hill and speed workouts. After recovery days that are around 3 to 4 miles, I’ll eat things that satisfy that “unhealthy side” but won’t affect my runs the next day. After hard runs, I usually have a smoothie with milk, chocolate protein powder, and strawberries, plus dinner about an hour later.

    • Avatar Ron Swanson says:

      Before I run I prefer a lean steak such as a porterhouse or if I’m running under three miles perhaps a thick New York strip. I like to hydrate with a basic libation something simple and palate cleansing like a single or double malt scotch on the rocks. After at least five i stretch then put on a fresh pair of wet socks, as my body will absorb the moisture as a run to increase hydration. Before I hit the asphalt I finish my peri- workout meal of with twelve crisp thick cut strips of homemade bacon and a nice liter of Guiness then im off. Post workout I prefer something hearty like breakfast sausage a dozen scrambled eggs and rye bourbon.

  6. Avatar Target 80 says:

    I cycle & find that a bowl of rolled oats with fresh fruit ( strawberries/blueberries), yoghurt & milk eaten 2 hours before a solid ride or race works for me. Usually have a couple of poached eggs on toast post riding.

  7. Avatar Villalta Samuel Ever says:


  8. Avatar Blossy says:

    I always go for some 2% chocolate milk and a banana

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