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7 Foods You Should Never Eat Before A Run

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As any runner will tell you, how you fuel your body is a very important piece of the puzzle. You need adequate calories to fuel your body for success. 

You have probably read a lot of advice on what is good for fueling your body. However, do you know what you absolutely should not eat?

Knowing what not to eat before running can set you up for success. 

7 Foods To Always Avoid Before Exercise

1. Greens

Runners should aim to get their greens in throughout the week. But having a spinach salad before a run isn’t the smartest idea. The same is true for lettuce, cabbage, or kale.

Greens are high-fiber foods. Eating a bunch of greens before a run (or even the night before) can leave you with stomach cramps, heading to the bathroom. 

2. Dairy

How can you resist a morning cup of coffee? While many runners enjoy a cup of coffee for its added energy jolt to get them ready for a run, it’s best to skip the cream.

Also skip the milk, cheese, butter, or cream. Dairy/lactose products are another one of those things that can really wreak havoc on your gastro intentional system. 

3. Whole Grains

Sure, runners love carbs. When fueling up right before a run you probably want to stick to carbohydrates such as white bread, bagels, etc.

Anything with a lot of whole grains can actually end up being trouble for you, again with the potential for stomach issues. That is the danger of whole grains. 

4. Nuts or Seeds

If you have a taste for nuts before a run you should have them in the form of nut butter or peanut butter, not whole nuts or seeds. 

Eating whole nuts or seeds before working out can end up hurting your tummy.  

5. Raw Veggies

Even though raw veggies like carrots, celery, and broccoli are super healthy for you,  they won’t mix well before working out.

In the best-case scenario, you might end up gassy and burping. Worst-case scenario you could have a terrible stomach ache to haunt you through the workout. 

6. Spicy Foods

Some like it hot; but eating spicy food before a run is a major no, no. With spicy foods, there is a higher chance of suffering from heartburn, indigestion, bloating or worst—major gastrointestinal problems.

If the food has lots of flavor and seasonings, it’s a good idea to skip it before a run to avoid stomach irritations with limited time to fully digest.

7. Bad Fats

High-fat foods get a bad reputation. There are good fats—like avocado—that we need in our diets. But runners should never eat fatty or fried foods before a run. This is because it takes a long time to digest foods high in fat.

Translation: a burger shouldn’t be on the menu if you are planning to work out.

Is It Best to Run on an Empty Stomach?

There are many schools of thought on this. If you are planning to run less than an hour, and are going out fairly shortly after waking, many runners prefer fasted running. Fasted running simply means you sleep all night then get up and run without taking in any fuel at all. 

Proponents of fasted running think that you are burning more calories throughout the day if you do this.

While the evidence does not necessarily confirm that belief, there are other benefits.

If you run on an empty stomach, you are training your body to use the fat as fuel. 

In addition to that, if you have not eaten, you likely cannot have any problems with gastro intentional issues deriving from food.

6 Runners’ Tips on What to Eat Before Running

Now that we have covered foods to avoid pre-workout, we will dig into the best foods to eat before running.

Some of my favored pre-run snacks are:

  1. Oatmeal or granola bars
  2. Toast with nut butter spread on it
  3. Cereal bars/energy bars 
  4. Honey Stinger Waffles – great low-fat breakfast before an early morning run
  5. Cliff Bars – another nice macronutrient snack to eat before you run
  6. Lean meat on a bagel

As you may have noticed, most of these thoughts on small snacks or light meals are small and fairly easy to digest. The key is to practice with your fuel and the energy levels you get from it – to be sure your body will not hate you for it later on when running. 

The rules of what not to eat before running are not absolute nor are they black and white. It is important to note that something that sits just fine for one athlete does not work for another. 

4 Other Things You Should Not Do Before A Run!

There are other things you should not do before a run:

1. You should not skip your warm-up. That is a good way to get hurt.

2. You also don’t want to forget to poop. This is especially true if you are heading out on a longer run. Whatever your morning routine is, you want to follow it to ensure that during the run – poop doesn’t happen.

3. Although taking in fuel is important, you should not eat too much nor too close to run time. If you eat too much right before you run, that could also end badly. 

4. Another great piece of advice is to remember not to wear new clothing on a race day or long run day.  Your apparel needs to be broken in.

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