You need this fuel for long endurance runs

Figuring out what to eat before a long run can be difficult. If you don’t get enough nutrition, you can feel sluggish and sluggish and quickly reach your limits. On the other hand, eating too much before a long run can cause cramping, an uncomfortable fullness and other intestinal problems that are not fun during running.

So what should you eat before a long run for optimal performance? And when should you eat before you hit the road? We answer all your questions about what to eat, including why it’s so important to do so. What works best for you is a matter of trying. You will try things that may not work. Don’t give up, eventually running will be a lot more fun with the right nutrition.

Also read: You can do this for bowel problems while running.

Why should you eat before a long run?

Susan Paul, exercise physiologist and program director for the Orlando Track Shack Foundation, says long-term food serves two very important functions. “First, it gives you some blood sugar, which is needed after a night’s sleep and fasting. Think of it like filling your car’s gas tank – it’s not completely empty, but you want to fill it up again,’ she explains.

Another important function of eating before a long run is to keep you comfortable. Paul explains that digestion can be challenging while running. When you run, the body diverts blood flow away from the internal organs. The body’s large muscles are prioritized to supply them with oxygenated blood for good running. As a result, areas such as the gastrointestinal tract receive less blood flow during exercise.

Food present in the stomach stimulates blood flow for digestion. Running with a little food in your stomach ensures that the blood supply to the gastrointestinal system is maintained and that you can eat well during a workout. Due to the constant blood supply, the gastrointestinal system continues to work. says Paul. “If there is no food on board, the blood flow is diverted immediately, making it very difficult to eat while walking,” she adds.

“The amount of blood diverted from internal organs is usually related to the intensity of the exercise. In addition, the longer the run, the more time these organs have less blood flow, which can contribute to gastrointestinal distress on long training days, « says Paul.

When and how much should you eat before a long run?

There’s more to it than grabbing a sandwich and tying the shoelaces. Paul recommends eating about one to two hours before exercise. “Low-fat and low-fiber foods are the best choices for most runners, but it’s important to experiment with different foods so you can find what works best for you. The goal is for you to have your personal nutrition plan completely thought out before race day,’ she says.

Starla Garcia, RD, a nutritionist and Olympic runner based in Houston, Texas, recommends loading up on 50 to 90 grams of carbs for runs longer than 60 minutes. “Runners can also adjust to this by calculating 1 to 4 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight,” she says. For example, Garcia says a 70-pound runner who has a run of two hours or more on the schedule needs about 63 to 254 grams of carbohydrates for the run. Paul also says that a pre-run breakfast should have a minimum of 200 to 300 calories. Are you going to run a marathon? Read here what to put on the menu in the last week before the marathon.

Start with a low amount of carbs (if you’re not used to fueling up before running) and gradually increase as needed. “It’s better to go minimal first than to overload the system,” says Paul. “Think about small meals that contain mostly easily digestible carbohydrates with some protein – around a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein works best.” You can also eat too little. How do you recognize the signals? These six signs are warning you.

What should you eat before a long run?

Garcia says if you’re short on time, consider choosing a simple carb option. For example, a combination of sports gel and sports drink to hydrate and fuel yourself within 30 minutes of your run.

If you’re running later in the day and have more time to digest, Garcia recommends runners aim for a meal or snack that meets their carbohydrate needs (as a reminder, that’s 1 to 4 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight). Prioritize a full breakfast and/or lunch if you have to run much later.

As for exactly what to eat, Garcia suggests avoiding foods like cruciferous vegetables, high-fat foods, or fried foods to prevent gastrointestinal upset. Instead, it is better to take simple carbohydrates (sports gel and sports drink) and some protein.

Some examples of what to eat before a long run, as recommended by Garcia:

  • 4 biscuits, 1 banana and 1 portion of sports drink
  • 1 pack of biscuits and banana + 1 portion of sports drink
  • 2 slices of toast with nut butter + 1 banana
  • 1 cup oatmeal cooked with 1 banana and 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 cookies with sweet filling with 1 portion of sports drink

    What about hydration?

    Now that you know how to refuel, don’t forget about hydration. Garcia says to drink between 240 and 355 ml of water 30 to 60 minutes before running. Since we all know drinking water before you walk out the door doesn’t end well, make sure you sip slowly. “Drinking too much water can cause sloshing or cramping,” she says. Drinking too little water can have negative effects.

    Garcia adds that including some electrolytes in your fluids for longer exercise sessions is a good choice to help improve intestinal absorption and heat tolerance. “It can also be helpful in cold winter months, as runners may not sweat, but they also need electrolytes to help with recovery,” she says. “Runners can also consume electrolytes before exercise to prevent dehydration and avoid starting a run dehydrated.”

    When and what should you eat during a long run?

    The minimum amount of fuel you should consume per hour while running is 30 grams of carbohydrates, says Garcia. The maximum is about 90 grams of carbohydrates per hour. But those numbers can vary depending on your body, intensity, timing, how you feel, etc., Garcia said.

    It’s smart to take your fuel in increments to help you reach 30 grams (or more) per hour. This means that after the first half hour you must take in a little fuel at a time, e.g. every 15 to 25 minutes.

    “In the marathon, most runners can tolerate a gel every 30 minutes,” says Garcia. “I would recommend (if you can tolerate it) eating every 20 minutes to get closer to 90 grams per hour.”

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