running

Quick Tips to Fuel Your Way to Great Run


Looking for advice on how to fuel your body for your upcoming running race?

Read on for professional advice you can trust from local Registered Dietician and runner, Carolyn Berry.

THE NIGHT BEFORE…

  • Eat a high-carbohydrate, moderate-protein, low-fat meal (protein and fat are more difficult to digest). For example,
    • Pasta with tomato sauce and grilled chicken
    • Stir-fry made with cooked brown rice or quinoa and tofu, lean beef, chicken, or shrimp, and a mix of your favourite vegetables
  • Play around with fibre: High fibre foods take longer to digest than low fibre foods. This can cause gastrointestinal discomfort (aka bloating/cramps/diarrhea) on the day of the run/race in some individuals.
  • Don’t overeat: Eating very large portions can lead to discomfort during a run and possibly weight gain.
  • Drink plenty of water: Sip on water or an electrolyte drink throughout the day, especially in the afternoon and evening before a long morning run or a race.

Carbohydrate loading involves eating a larger than normal amount of carbs 48 hrs leading up to a race or long run > 90 minutes. This is a recommended strategy to increase glycogen storage so that your body has adequate carbs for energy use during a long run.

THE MORNING OF…

  • Eat a substantial breakfast: high carb, moderate protein and low fat (similar to dinner meal). For example,
    • Whole grain cereal or oatmeal with low-fat milk/soy milk and mixed berries
    • Overnight oatmeal (see recipe handout)
    • Whole grain/white toast or bagel with peanut butter and a banana
    • Smoothie with low-fat milk/soy milk, greek yogurt, fruit, and rolled oats
  • Timing of this meal is very dependent on the individual. Try experimenting.
  • Hydrate: As soon as you wake up in the morning, drink an electrolyte beverage in 200 ml increments every 10-20 minutes leading up to your run. If possible, drink 5-7 ml of fluid per kg 4 hours before your run. Hydration is a balance between having enough fluid, and avoiding having to pee too many times during a run.

DURING…

Fueling your body with easily accessible carbs is important during a run.

Energy Gels: 

  • Concentrated solutions of carbohydrate and electrolytes which require little ir no chewing.
  • Take 30-60 g carb/hr (30 g = 1 gel)
  • Indigestible without fluid, so drink right after taking.

Sport Drinks: 

  • Made with easily digestible carbs and electrolytes to speed up rehydration.
  • Can be consumed during a race or long run for extra carb and electrolytes in addition to gels. Amount dependent on the individual.
  • Can purchase electrolyte drinks without the carbohydrate, for example, Nuun tablets

AFTER…

  • The recovery meal or snack is crucial for providing you with enough energy to recover properly and set you up nicely for your next workout.
  • Timing is key: Aim to have a snack within 30 minutes and a meal 1-2 hours after. This will help to minimize stiffness and soreness by helping your muscles to recover quickly.
  • Aim for a snack with 15-25 g protein and at least 30 g carb.
    • 500 ml chocolate milk
    • ¾ cup Greek yogurt with fruit
    • Simply Protein bar with fruit or Elevate Me bar
    • Protein shake (whey-based, for example: Kaizen, Cytosport, Muscle Milk powder, Optimum Nutrition)
  • To restore fluid balance, your body needs to take in twice as much water as you lose through sweat. For 2-3 hours after a run, drink more than you normally would.

About the author:

Carolyn Berry is a Registered Dietician in Vancouver, B.C. She has run 9 marathons, over 15 half marathons and recently qualified for the Boston marathon in April 2018. Her evidence-based approach combines practical solutions with her personal sports experience to address her client’s nutrition goals.

To read more blog posts by Carolyn or book an appointment for a personal nutrition plan, check out her website: berrynourished.com