Before heading out for a run it's important to make sure you're fueled.
Your body needs high-octane fuel to run its best.
Here are some high-carb, low-fat, low-fiber meals and snacks that can provide the energy you need to run your best, for a variety of different workouts. These meals and snacks, packed with nutrients to keep you healthy, are suggested by sports dietitian Pamela Nisevich Bede, Runner’s World’s Fuel School columnist.
Use this as a guide, but listen to your body. Each individual is unique in terms of digestion time, so you may need to eat closer to your workout or a few hours earlier than what’s prescribed here.
If you’re exercising for up to an hour at an easy effort, it’s okay to run on empty. But having a small snack or meal ahead of time may help you feel energized and strong throughout the workout. These snacks are also ideal before shorter quality workouts, like speed sessions and hill work.
- 1 cup of low-fiber cereal with ½ cup skim milk (195 calories)- Eat this 30 minutes before a workout. The milk provides protein; both the cereal and milk have carbs to keep you energized.
- 2 (3-inch) fig cookies (198 calories)- Eat these 30 minutes to 1 hour before a workout. The cookies are easy to digest and packed with high-energy carbs, vitamins, and minerals.
- 1 cup of berries with ½ cup low-fat cottage cheese (160 calories)- Eat this 60 to 90 minutes before a workout. The berries offer carbs for energy, while the cottage cheese provides calcium, potassium, and vitamin D- all of which come in handy when training.
- 3 graham cracker squares with 1 teaspoon of honey (98 calories)- Eat these 15 to 30 minutes before a workout or short speed session. These crackers are packed with carbs to keep you energized for your workout.
- 6 ounces low-fat fruit yogurt and 1 medium peach (275 calories)- Eat this 1 hour before a workout. This snack has calcium, vitamin D, and potassium to support bone and muscle health, plus antioxidants to boost immune function.
IF YOU’RE WORKING OUT FOR 60 to 90 MINUTES
Going longer? You’ll need more fuel so you finish the workout strong and don’t tire out before you’re done.
- 1 medium banana and 1 tablespoon of nut butter (200 calories)- Eat this 1 hour before your workout. The potassium and fluid in the fruit help you stay hydrated; the nut butter offers heart-healthy fat plus carbs.
- 1 bagel with 1 tablespoon of nut butter and 1 tablespoon of jam or honey (390 calories)- Eat this 1 hour before your workout. The bagel and toppings offer long-lasting energy so you can stay strong.
- ½ cup of steel-cut oats with skim milk, topped with 1 cup of sliced strawberries (256 calories)- Eat this 1 hour before your workout. Packed with carbs and B vitamins, this is an excellent choice for pre- or postrun recovery.
- 2 ounces of pretzels with 2 tablespoons of hummus (263 calories)- Eat this 1 hour before your workout. The pretzels provide easy-to-digest carbs for fast energy plus sodium to keep you hydrated; the hummus offers iron for strength, plus protein.
- 2 whole-grain waffles (frozen) with 2 tablespoons of maple syrup(270 calories)- Eat this 1 hour before your workout. The syrup and waffles both offer fast digesting carbs to provide an energy boost; the syrup also offers B vitamins to boost energy and bolster recovery.
- Peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole-grain bread (360 calories)- Eat this 60 to 90 minutes before your workout. All the ingredients provide carbs for energy; the peanut butter offers extra protein to fend off hunger; and, the banana provides potassium to help stave off muscles cramps.
- 2 ounces of honey whole-wheat pretzels dipped in 1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter (230 calories)- The pretzels provide carbs for energy and sodium to help keep you hydrated; the peanut butter offers protein to help muscles recover.
- 16-ounce sports drink (125 calories)- Drinks this 15 to 30 minutes before (or during) your workout. Provides fluids and electrolytes to help keep you hydrated.
- 15 animal crackers dipped in 2 tablespoons peanut butter (390 calories)- Eat these 30 to 60 minutes before your workout. The animal crackers are easy to digest and provide carbs for long-lasting energy. Peanut butter has vitamins and minerals like potassium, and has been linked to lower risk of coronary heart disease.
- 1 cup of Apple Cinnamon O’s cereal with 1 cup of skim milk and 1 medium banana (255 calories)- Eat this 45 to 60 minutes before your workout. The cereal and milk provide carbs for an energy boost; the banana provides potassium to support your muscles; and the milk offers an extra boost of calcium for bone health.
- 3 ounces deli turkey wrapped in a flour tortilla with 1 cup shredded veggies (275 calories)- Eat this 90 minutes before your workout. This will provide long-lasting energy with extra protein to aid in muscle recovery.