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Best & Worst Pre-Run Foods

close-up of fruit and nuts

Given that most ‘fun-runs’ are conducted in the morning, it doesn't make sense to sacrifice sleep in order to eat and digest a full meal (which would mean you’d have to start eating 2 to 4 hours before the event). But even a light carbohydrate-based snack should be eaten 1 to 2 hours before competing to top up the body’s energy stores. Choose pre-performance meal(s) that are low in fat and fibre to ensure optimal digestion.

Here’s a guide to what you should and shouldn't eat before your runs -


Try limiting or eliminating some of these foods before running:

High-fibre foods: Whole-grain foods, vegetables and fruits that are high in fibre can cause gastrointestinal distress or diarrhoea. While those foods are great, healthy foods, they may cause digestive issues in runners who consume them the night before or morning of a long run.
High-fat foods: Foods with a lot of fat — such as fried foods, cheese, hamburgers, or bacon – as they take longer to digest and may make you feel uncomfortable during training.
Caffeine: Coffee or other caffeinated beverages can cause stomach issues or diarrhoea.


These are the best types of pre-run foods to help avoid gastrointestinal distress during or after running:

Refined Carbs: Processed white foods, like regular pasta, white rice, and plain bagels, although not as nutritious as whole grain foods, they are easier on your stomach. A plain bagel with some peanut butter (and a glass of water) would be a safe choice before a long run.
Low-Fibre Fruits and Veg: If you want to eat fruits or vegetables before your run, courgette, tomatoes, olives, grapes, and grapefruit are all low in fibre.


3–4 Hours Before a Performance (not for short bouts of exercise – longer than 1 hour)

  • Peanut butter & honey on toast and orange juice
  • Fruit and yoghurt smoothie and low-fat granola
  • Porridge with almonds, skimmed milk and banana
  • Cottage Cheese, crackers and fresh grapes
  • Ham sandwich with lettuce, tomato, side salad
  • Turkey and Swiss sandwich

30–60 Minutes Before a Performance

  • Sports drink or water
  • Piece of fruit – banana, apple, pear, orange

*If running first thing in the morning a banana is a perfect energy snack