What to Eat Before Running Reviewed & Rated for Performance
Whether you're looking to fuel up before or after a workout, your choice of snacks is a very important and can make all the difference between making significant gains and having a frustrating workout that doesn't help you improve. Having a snack before working out provides your body with the energy it needs to run several miles without feeling fatigued. Refueling post-workout allows your body to replenish the energy sources used during the workout. Either way, food and nutrition remain a very important part of any good exercise or workout regime. Good fuel will also help the body and muscles recover from the damage caused by a strenuous workout.
We researched the best things to eat before running and made a top 10 list of things to eat before running, so scroll down and bon appetit!
Criteria Used for Evaluation
The energy you get from running comes from calories, so this is an important factor to look at when choosing a workout snack. These pre-workout snacks range in calories and it is important to know how much calories you are consuming to help you plan and design your workout plan. If your body needs more calories to help you perform the high-intensity workout, such as sprinting, then you need to consume more. You should determine whether your ideal snack can be used to replace your pre-workout meal or just as a snack to consume in between meals to help manage hunger and provide an instant energy boost before going for a run. If you have high energy requirements or are using the snack to replace your breakfast or lunch, you might want to consider a high-calorie snack to help meet your calorie needs. In fact, you might want to pair the snack up with a piece of fresh fruit or vegetable.
Some foods can be higher in calories than others. Depending on your calorie requirements and fitness goals, you should choose food items that are high or low in calories. For instance, if you are trying to lose weight, which means burning more calories than you consume, you should greatly consider food options with fewer calories so that you do not have excess calories stored in fat stores of your body by the end of the day. In contrast, if you are an athlete looking to gain weight, you should consume more calories than your daily requirement. Athletes looking to lose weight or belly fat generally consider low-calorie diets, which include low-calorie snacks. On the other hand, bodybuilders looking to gain more weight are generally not restricted to how many calories they can consume daily. Therefore, understanding your fitness goals and calorie requirements could help you select the most appropriate pre-workout snack for your runs.
Whether you are hiking, climbing mountains, or running to achieve your fitness goals, it is important to meet your energy needs and even supplement where you feel there could be a deficiency. An energy bar or a snack often comes in handy when looking for that extra boost to sprint harder or ascend uphill. If you are a lugged trail runner planning to hit the ground running, ensure you bring your best snacks with you. There are snacks you can have on the go to provide you with the energy you need to keep going. Some of these snacks do not take up much space in your gym bag but could provide you with the energy and nutrients you need to go through the day. If you are looking for convenience, then you might want to consider energy bars because they are easy to carry and chew. They are also easy to digest when you need to tap into an instant source of energy.
If you are going to consume a pre-workout snack before going for your runs, then you need to be aware of the ingredients used to make it. The ideal snack is a healthy food option. Most manufacturers know the importance of making healthy food products and therefore focus on healthy food options made of all-natural ingredients. Elite athletes also know the importance of sticking to a healthy diet with no sugars and no preservatives. Consider a snack with no artificial sweeteners, color or flavors. Fortunately, most of the snacks and food products sold on the market currently are healthy food options with no artificial ingredients that could affect the health of the consumer. Regardless, it is still important to pay close attention to the product label to determine whether the ingredients used to make the snack are safe for consumption.
You should always avoid food items with GMO content. In this regard, non-GMO certified products should be on top of your list when shopping for your ideal pre-run or pre-workout snack. GMO products can be very harmful to your body and health. On the other hand, you should also pay close attention to ingredients if you are a vegan/ vegetarian or are allergic to some food substances. Vegan-friendly foods can be ideal pre-workout snacks to consume before you go for your late evening runs, particularly if you are a vegan trying to avoid animal products at all cost.
If you are allergic to soy, peanut or gluten, then you need to take your time to keenly examine the ingredients used to make the snack. Gluten-free, peanut-free, soy-free, egg-free, dairy-free, fish-free, and sesame-free products are best if you are allergic to any of these elements. Similarly, if you are trying to avoid any of these, then it helps to scrutinize the ingredients used in making the snack to ensure it is safe for consumption. It doesn’t matter how nutritious your pre-workout snack is if it is made of one or more ingredients you are allergic to. For instance, while peanut-based pre-workout snacks may be good for those looking to boost their immune, you should totally avoid them if you are allergic to peanut-containing foods.
Nothing is perfect, and unfortunately along with instant energy sometimes comes some discomfort. It doesn't happen to everybody with every product, but some of the products on our list did cause some reviewers to have side effects such as nausea or an upset stomach on occasion.
For the most part this isn't something to worry about, especially because as an athlete your system is pretty healthy and able to easily digest and assimilate the ingredients found in these products. Keep in mind however that you won't know how your body reacts to an edible product until you actually try it for yourself. Because of this you may want to hold off on buying products in bulk until you've had the chance to try them and see how you and your body like them.
What our research showed us was the for the most part products in their whole food state such as juices and dried fruits tend to cause the least amount of side effects, while products that have been manufactured such as energy bars are the ones that tend to cause side effects.
We all like to get a good deal and feel like our money has been wisely spent, and that goes for what you buy to eat before running. The products on this list run from expensive to very affordable, each one offering different levels of value to the consumer. Some of the products can be purchased in bulk which will make them even more affordable.
We looked at the overall price, as well as the price per serving for each product chosen for our list and ranked them according to how much value they represent. We found that for the most part the all-natural, organic products such as dried fruit and juices were the most expensive, but that they still offer you a good value. Bars and gels can be more expensive per serving, but have a lower upfront investment than buying things like fruit juices or dried fruit in bulk.
Top 10 Picks
1. GU Energy
GU has played a significant role in helping to propel athletes to high levels of success. If you are looking to be successful as an athlete, you could add this calorie-dense packet to your collection of snacks. It contains highly absorbable carbohydrates, with branched-chain amino acids that increase speedy recovery by limiting muscle fiber damage. The extra electrolytes in the snack could help maintain water balance.Read more
Branched-chain Amino Acids
The snack contains branched-chain amino acids, which can be helpful in speedy recovery and minimizing muscle damage. If you want to reduce mental fatigue and have the energy to perform physical activity, you might want to add this snack to your pre-workout diet.
Dual Source Energy
The athlete may benefit from fructose and maltodextrin, a dual energy source that utilizes non-competing pathways to efficiently absorb energy. When using this snack, you will be giving your body access to lasting energy to help you run faster.
Cost and Value
Originally designed for athletes, this high-energy nutritional snack can help you perform better. It is easily absorbed and the amino acids help to minimize muscle damage. It is also pocket-friendly.
2. Super 5 Dried Fruit Mix
The balanced blend of fortifying nutrition provides you with constant energy to make you feel like a superhero. The snack is deliciously sweet and has been dried using the nutrient-saving evaporation process to make it very convenient to carry and snack on the go. This non-GMO product is all-natural and could help prevent energy deficiency, which could significantly affect an athlete’s performance. The company specializes in making allergy-friendly foods that provide high levels of energy.Read more
Gerbs All-Natural Promise
The snack meets Gerbs’s all-natural promise because it contains no GMO's, no additives, no flavoring, and no sugars. It is especially great if you are a vegan or vegetarian athlete because you won’t have to worry about animal products slipping into your diet.
For athletes who are allergic to certain foods, you can be sure that your body will not develop an allergic reaction to this snack. It has been tested and found to be gluten-free, peanut-free, soy-free, egg-free, dairy-free, fish-free, and sesame-free among others.
Cost and Value
The snack is allergy friendly and great for athletes who are allergic to certain food items. It is made of natural ingredients, with no sugar and no preservatives. For a few dollars, you can have this wonderful snack for your morning runs.
3. Crispy Green
This product features 100% pure crispy fruit. Athletes are on-the-go consumers who want to pack their snacks and have them on their way to the gym or while resting in the park in between an intensive jogging session. It is the ideal healthy snack that makes it convenient to refuel before a taxing workout. It is a deliciously nutritious way to consume more fruit besides the regular diet.Read more
Freeze-Dried Crispy Fruit
This is a convenient way to add fruits to your diet. Since they are dried, athletes can easily carry and consume them while training. If you are looking for a convenient way to eat fruits during your training, then you should add this snack to your diet.
The Crispy Green Promise
This snack is based on Crispy Green’s philosophy of purity, taste, and wholesomeness. The company focuses on proving top quality natural foods that would help athletes to live a healthy life. Your life will be better when you consume this snack regularly.
Cost and Value
These are tasty, 100% freeze-dried pure fruit slices that make a good addition to your snacking diet. They are all-natural and based on high-quality fresh fruits obtained from certified, handpicked growers who have successfully undergone a rigorous audit review process. The snack is pocket-friendly.
4. Terrasoul Superfoods
These dates are called the “King of Dates” for a reason. They are large and have plumb texture. They are also one of the sweetest fruits and can be deliciously nutrient-dense. They contain phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals that can be beneficial to health. In addition, they are easy to digest and can be used to provide nutrition and fuel the muscles to improve the athlete’s performance.Read more
Perfect for Snacking
If you are a snack lover, then you’ll probably find these dates useful. They are great for sweetening nut milk and can be used to provide instant energy just before running. As an athlete, you could significantly boost your energy levels before your morning runs.
USDA Certified Organic
Many athletes are worried about their health. If you are one of them, you’d want to feed on all-natural foods and food items. The product is USDA-certified organic food, with no GMO and no gluten.
Cost and Value
These dates are great for snacking. They can also be used for sweetening nut milk for consumption just before workout. The snack is made of natural, organic ingredients and can be perfect for vegans and vegetarians. It is quite affordable as well.
5. Honey Stinger
Just as the name suggests, the snack features a thin layer of honey with a blend of cocoa flavor, keenly sandwiched between thin waffles. You will enjoy how the honey and chocolate taste in your mouth. The delicious blend is guaranteed to satisfy any athlete’s taste buds. It is great to have as an afternoon snack to help keep the athlete running and working out without being fatigued.Read more
Nature’s Energy Source
Honey is famous for being a rich energy source and can help to provide carbohydrates needed to fuel the muscles and power movement. You can take it during exercise or before and after workouts.
Perfect for On-the-go Athletes
Each Stinger waffle features a unique individual wrapping to make it easy to pack the snack for workouts. You can easily carry it to the gym or to your evening sprints. It is very convenient to move around with.
Cost and Value
If you are looking for a natural energy source to fuel your jogging workout, then this product could be your ideal snack. It offers convenience and can be consumed on the go. It is cost-effective and tastes delicious.
6. Mott's Unsweetened Applesauce
Featuring 100% real fruit, they make a great snack for your child athlete. This unsweetened applesauce has no added sugar. As a great source of Vitamin C, it also contains no preservations or artificial colors. The company is fully committed to providing a healthy snack that children athletes would be glad to eat every day for breakfast, lunch and even in between meals while preparing to go running after they are done with school.Read more
Source of Vitamin C
If you want to get Vitamin C for a healthy body, the applesauce is a great place to start. It could help keep away the cold to let you focus on your morning runs. You’ll also enjoy a strengthened immune.
A Healthy Snack Alternative
As an athlete, you might have been told the importance of eating healthy food options. If you want to stick to that maxim, then you should get yourself this snack to eat before you go jogging. It has no sugars or preservatives.
Cost and Value
This applesauce is a healthy food alternative you can take during breakfast, lunch, or any other time convenient for you. Being a great source of Vitamin C, it could help keep colds off. It is affordable too.
7. Bob's Red Mill Organic
This would make a deliciously wholesome cereal. This steamy hot cereal will provide energy all morning. It makes a great breakfast cereal and can be an excellent way to kick-start your day. If you want fiber to be a part of your diet, then adding this wholesome cereal meal to your morning meal can be very beneficial. This is a high protein and healthy food, with low carbohydrates.Read more
Vegan / Vegetarian Meal
This can be very great for vegetarian/ vegan athlete looking to add energy in the morning before going for that morning jog. It is 100% whole grain and vegetarians do not have to worry about consuming an animal product.
This cereal contains 7 grams of protein per serving. The pack of 4 has a total of 32 ounces. If you are looking to consume high protein food in the morning with sufficient energy to help fuel your muscles, then this whole cereal meal should be part of your diet.
Cost and Value
For the most soluble fiber that could help provide energy to jump-start your day, Bob's Red Mill oats could significantly boost your energy levels and provide you with the protein you need for your exercise. The cost is modest.
8. CLIF Nut Butter
Clif is very passionate about food that can inspire the adventure in athletes. This snack is great for triathlon participants, hikers, and even sprinters. Clif’s recipes are specially crafted to supply athletes with the energy they need. The food maker believes that great food results in better adventures. This recipe is guaranteed to meet athletes’ energy needs. Made with organic ingredients such as oats, you can be sure that you are consuming a healthy food option.Read more
Organic Energy Bar
This nut butter-filled snack features an energy bar to help supply sustainable energy. It is deliciously creamy and anyone would enjoy feasting on this nut butter energy bar. It is also a USDA-certified organic energy bar that can be great for vegan athletes.
On the Go Energy
If you are do not have time to sit at home and finish your energy bar, you can pack it and have it on the go. By adding nut butter, it is possible to delay the release of carbs to working muscles.
Cost and Value
For a deliciously nutritious energy bar you can have on the go, then Clif Nut Butter could be your ideal to go energy bar when you need energy before your workout. You can be consuming it while working out for the carbs to be released slowly to replenish depleted energy source. It is quite affordable as well.
9. Pomona Organic
This beet juice is 100% pure organic and you do not have to worry about artificial sweeteners. In fact, it is USDA-certified organic food with no sugar, no preservatives, and no flavoring. In addition, it is neither diluted nor made from concentrate. If you are a fan of beets, you will get to enjoy 0.75 pounds per bottle. The snack will also take care of your cardiovascular health and blood pressure.Read more
Maintains Cardiovascular Wellness
Heart health is very important for any athlete. This beet juice will help you maintain a healthy heart and overall cardiovascular wellness. Your heart will be stronger and be able to function better by effectively pumping blood to various parts of your body.
Improve Blood Circulation
You will have enhanced blood circulation to help carry blood and oxygen to the rest of your body, especially when you need it the most, such as during training. Your blood pressure will also be within a healthy range.
Cost and Value
This product is great for athletes who want to maintain cardiovascular health. If you want to improve your blood circulation, then you might consider this snack. It is also affordable and will boost your immune system.
This bar is specially designed for runners who would like to replenish their energy levels before or after a high-intensity workout. With a carb to protein ratio of 4:1, the athlete can be sure to get good value for money. If you are a runner looking for an afternoon snack to fuel your runs, then this bar might be your most reliable go-to energy snack. The pre-run energy boost will leave you more fueled than ever.Read more
Pre-run Energy Boost
If you are just preparing to hit the road and burn some calories or make your heart stronger by jogging or sprinting, then you could add this energy bar to your diet to get an instant energy boost.
The snack’s low fiber content makes it super easy to chew and break it down into smaller pieces that are easy to swallow. You can consume it before your runs but it won’t weigh you down.
Cost and Value
The carb to protein ratio makes it ideal for endurance activities. This pre-run energy boost could significantly increase your energy levels and make your runs super easy. You can also chew and digest it easily. The price is modest.