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What to Eat Before Running in the Morning?

Heorhii Rysak


Running in the morning can be invigorating. The fresh morning air, the quiet streets, and the feeling of accomplishment all make for a perfect start to the day. But the age-old question still stands: what to eat before running in the morning? Just like a car needs fuel to run efficiently, our bodies need the right nutrients to function at their peak during a run. In this comprehensive guide will tel you about the ideal foods to consume before your morning jog, ensuring you stay energized and maintain optimal performance.


What to Eat Before Running in the Morning?

Carbohydrates: The Energy Powerhouse
Our bodies love carbs, especially when gearing up for a physical activity like running. Foods rich in carbohydrates can offer sustained energy. Opt for whole grains such as oatmeal or whole wheat bread to provide a slow, steady energy release.

Proteins: For Muscle Repair and Growth
While carbs might be the main attraction, proteins play a crucial backup role. Consuming a source of protein can aid muscle repair and growth. Think about including Greek yogurt or almond butter in your pre-run meal.

Healthy Fats: Sustained Energy
Don’t shy away from fats. When consumed in moderation, healthy fats like avocados or nuts can offer extended energy, ensuring you don’t burn out halfway through your run.

Hydration is Key
Never forget the importance of hydration. A glass of water or a hydrating smoothie can make a world of difference. Being well-hydrated ensures your muscles function correctly and helps in preventing cramps.

Dairy and Alternatives
For those who tolerate dairy, it can be an excellent source of both protein and carbohydrates. However, there are numerous dairy alternatives like soy or almond milk that can serve as valuable additions to your pre-run meal.

Fruits: Nature’s Candy
A banana or a handful of berries can provide quick energy. Plus, they’re packed with essential vitamins and minerals to keep you running stronger for longer.

Avoiding Heavily Processed Foods
When contemplating what to eat before a run, you might be tempted to reach for a quick sugary cereal bar. However, it’s advisable to steer clear of overly processed options. Such foods can result in energy dips mid-run, which is far from ideal. Making informed food choices can significantly enhance your running experience.

Timing Your Meal
When pondering the question, ‘how long should I wait to run after eating?’ it’s crucial to consider not just what you eat, but when. Ideally, have your pre-run snack or small meal about 30-60 minutes before your run. This allows your body to digest and turn your meal into the energy you’ll use on your route.

Listening to Your Body
Remember, we’re all unique. What works wonders for one person might not sit well with another. It’s crucial to listen to your body and adjust your nutrition based on how you feel.

Quick Grab-and-Go Options
When you’re crunched for time and wondering about the best pre-run snack, consider grab-and-go options. Energy bars, dried fruits, or a handful of nuts can provide that quick energy boost you need, eliminating the need for a more time-consuming meal

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Best Things to Eat in the Morning

Now that we’ve established the macronutrients’ roles, let’s dive into the specific foods that you can consider for your pre-run nutrition.

1. Bananas
Rich in potassium, bananas can help in maintaining nerve and muscle function during runs. They’re a quick source of energy, making them a go-to for many runners.

2. Oatmeal
A complex carbohydrate, oatmeal releases energy slowly, ensuring a sustained energy supply throughout your run. Add some fruits or a sprinkle of chia seeds for an extra boost.

3. Yogurt with Almonds and Berries
This combination offers carbs from the yogurt and berries, protein from the yogurt, and fats from the almonds. It’s a balanced meal ensuring you’re well-fueled for the run.

4. Whole Grain Bread with Nut Butter
Whole grains provide the necessary carbohydrates, while nut butter offers protein and healthy fats, making this combination another balanced choice.

5. Energy Bars or Protein Bars
For those on-the-go or those who prefer a quick snack, energy or protein bars can be effective. However, always ensure they’re low in sugars and artificial ingredients.

Running in the Morning on an Empty Stomach: Is It Right for You?

For brief, casual runs, eating beforehand may not be necessary. Yet, for those extended or high-intensity sessions, a light snack can stave off exhaustion. Everyone’s different: while some require that bit of fuel to bypass sluggishness, others thrive running in the morning empty stomach. Always tune into your body’s signals and tailor your pre-run nutrition to fit its needs.


What to eat before running can make or break your workout. Striking the right balance in nutrition, understanding macronutrient roles, and timing your meals correctly can be the difference between feeling weighed down or powering through your run. So, before you hit the track or trail, ensure you’re fueled appropriately to achieve your best performance. Lace up, fuel up, and run your best race! We also made a Weight Loss Calculator, you can see it here


What’s the best food for a short vs. long run in the morning?

For a short morning run, opt for a light snack like a banana or an energy bar to provide quick energy without weighing you down. For a long run, consume complex carbohydrates like oatmeal or whole grain toast with peanut butter about 1-2 hours prior. This offers sustained energy throughout the run. Always hydrate before both runs.

Should I avoid caffeine before a morning run?

Not necessarily. Before you drink coffee before running, it’s crucial to gauge how your body specifically responds to caffeine. Some runners find that caffeine, like a cup of coffee, gives them an energy boost. However, it’s essential to see how your body reacts to it.

Can I run on an empty stomach?

Caffeine can boost performance, but its effects vary by individual. Some runners benefit from improved alertness and energy, while others experience stomach upset or jitters. If you’re considering caffeine before a morning run, start with small amounts to gauge your body’s reaction. Remember to balance caffeine intake with hydration, as it can be diuretic. Experiment and find what works for you.

How Long After Eating to Run?

The optimal time to run after eating depends on the meal size. For a large meal, wait 3-4 hours. After a medium-sized meal, wait 2-3 hours. For small snacks or light fare, 30 minutes to an hour suffices. It’s essential to listen to your body; running too soon after eating can lead to cramping or digestive discomfort. Adjust as needed.

Can certain foods cause cramps during running?

Yes, certain foods can cause cramps during running. Greasy, spicy, or heavy foods can lead to digestive issues and discomfort. Dairy or high-fiber foods might cause gastrointestinal distress for some runners. Overconsumption of fluids, especially sugary drinks, can also result in cramping. It’s crucial to identify and avoid specific triggers by noting what you eat before runs and observing any patterns.