What to eat and drink before and after running

The 4-part series continues with part 2 |

After eating a good meal or snack before running, you are probably wondering if there is something you should be eating or drinking during your run and after your run. The answer is yes!

Hydration

First and foremost, you should set out to be well hydrated. Hydration is a key part of a runner’s nutrition plan, so review these guidelines to see if you are hydrating yourself well.

EVERY DAY HYDRATION

Here is a general idea of how many liquids you should strive to drink every day. All liquids you drink count! (Water, juices, milk, coffee, tea, soup, etc.).

  • 14-18 year old girls: 1.6L
  • Adult women: 2.2L

How to know if you drink enough in a day? Check the color of your pee! Make sure it is very light.

PRE RUN HYDRATION

Topping up your water levels before a run can help with last minute hydration. However, avoid chugging large amounts of fluids so you don’t feel the need for a mid-run pee!

  • 4 hours before you run, try taking 5mL for every kg you weigh: 5 x _______ your weight in kg = _______ mL of liquids to drink.

For example, if you weigh 60kg (132lbs) drink 300 mL of liquids (5mL x 60kg).

  • 2 hours before you run, try taking 3mL for every kg you weigh: 3 x _______ your weight in kg = _______ mL of liquids to drink.

For example, if you weigh 60kg (132lbs), drink 180 mL of liquids (3mL x 60kg).

HYDRATION DURING A RUN

For many reasons, it is important to maintain a good level of hydration during a run. For example, to replace perspiration lost and to maintain a stable core temperature. If you are dehydrated, you might feel thirsty, weak, tired, achy, dizzy, and unable to concentrate. If dehydration is very severe, you might even lose control of your body.

Here is a recommended quantity of liquids (water or other beverages) you should strive to drink during a run:

  • 4 to 5 sips of liquids (125 to 150 mL) every 20 minutes.

Try to drink according to your thirst warnings and do not force yourself to drink large amounts of liquids. Make a hydration schedule – especially for long runs.

AFTER A RUN

Start to rehydrate by drinking water or a sports drink. Try to drink at least 500mL of liquids right away and check the color of your urine to see if you are well hydrated.

What to eat after a run?

You need to replenish 3 nutrients post-run: Carbohydrates, Protein, and Electrolytes.

CARBOHYDRATES
Your energy levels (our famous glycogen) are depleted during a run. You will need to restore your levels by eating carbohydrates. In the hours following a run, your immune system is slightly compromised. Carbohydrates are not only helpful at maximizing your recovery process, but they can also help your body be better at fending off colds and infections.

PROTEIN
Your muscles have been subject to many micro-tears during your run. Protein helps repair muscle tissue rapidly.

ELECTROLYTES
If you ran for over an hour while the weather was hot, you may want to take in at least 500mg of sodium and foods rich in potassium (colorful fruit and veggies). Strive to eat salty foods to reach the required sodium levels (soda crackers, vegetable juices, salty nuts, cheese, soy sauce, pretzels, table salt, soup)

EXAMPLE OF A GOOD POST-RUN SNACK:
Hard boiled eggs (protein) + fresh pressed juice (carbs) + a pinch of salt (electrolytes)

What about electrolytes?

When you perspire, you lose some minerals through your sweat. These will need to be replaced either during your run or during the recovery period following your run. Electrolyte losses vary greatly from one person to another.

To avoid a dangerous low electrolyte state called hyponatremia, it is important to add sodium to your drink if you are running for many hours under hot and humid conditions.

What about sports products?

If you are running for more than an hour and a half, you could benefit from consuming carbohydrates (such as sports drinks and/or sports foods) to avoid depleting all your energy levels too quickly.

In general, strive to take in 30 to 60 g of carbohydrates for every hour that you run.

What consists of 30 g of carbohydrates?

  • 1 fruit bar
  • 3 fig cookies
  • 1 banana
  • 2 large dates
  • 1 scoop of sports drink powder
  • 1 sports gel

Tip: Train your digestive system! If you are planning on eating or drinking foods during a long race, it is important to practice through training during a long run. This is because when you first try to eat or drink during a run, your digestive system may not react well. But with practice, you will get used to digesting some simple foods while running and your body will adapt to this cycle.

This blog is adapted from the Complete Guide for Endurance Athletes by Catherine Naulleau. Guides can be purchased online here.

The runner’s series was written by Sports Dietitian, Pearle Nerenberg – a foodie and an avid runner. Pearle guides active people and elite athletes to eat to achieve their fitness and performance goals. She has a passion for working with Active Families. You can learn more about Pearle by visiting her website: www.pearlesportsnutrition.com

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Read the First Part of this Runners Series: Pre-run Breakfasts, Lunches and Dinners.

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