For any kind of workout to be successful, you need to provide your body with the required amount of fuel. The time at which you take in this fuel majorly decides how effective your workout is.
Eating right before running can lead to stomach cramps which can slow the person down. Meanwhile, if you don’t get enough calories then you might not have the energy to run the duration you want.
Don’t forget, eating after running is also vital since it helps the body in building stamina for the next run. The food also enables the body to refill the energy it has lost and supports the recovery of muscles.
The meal before a run
Eating a meal at least four hours before your run helps sustain your energy levels. This allows you to run longer. For example, having breakfast at 8 a.m. should be enough for you if you plan to run at 11 a.m.
Make sure that your meal contains carbohydrates like oatmeal or toast, healthy fats, and some amount of proteins as well.
If you didn't have anything to eat for at least four hours since the last meal then you should have, at the bare minimum, a small snack. Similarly, if you plan to run in the morning before any meal then you should first have a small snack as it will benefit you.
In the same way, if you are planning to run in the evening and it has been hours since your lunch then eating a light snack is highly recommended.
Suggested foods include a banana, half an energy bar, half a glass of green smoothie, or toast with peanut butter. Try to take any of these almost an hour before you run so that it is able to be slightly digested before you start working your body.
Meal after a run
If you ran for at least 45 minutes or more then you should get some nutritional food into your body right after you finish so that the body can get the maximum benefits of digesting the said food for energy and help with muscle recovery.
If you ran for a shorter period and didn’t run at the maximum speed then you don’t need a full meal as soon as you finish. You can just refuel your body when it’s the normal time for you to eat next.
However, if you are planning to have a post workout meal then make sure you incorporate protein and carbohydrates. This doesn’t mean that there should be a high number of calories.
Some options include plain yogurt with fruit, smoothie consisting of almond butter, milk, and banana, a half turkey sandwich, berries with milk, and brown rice with chicken breast.
If you are going to have your next meal about an hour after jogging then you can wait till then to refuel yourself instead of eating as soon as you’ve finished a jog.
Should you run before a meal or after one?
The best way to decide this is to ask yourself if you put in a lot of effort during your run. If you ran for half an hour at a very casual pace then you don’t need to worry too much about post nutrition or pre nutrition meals.
If you are running for the sole purpose of losing weight and fat then there is no need to eat after a run for recovery. When you are aiming for fat loss instead of performance then additional post-workout nutrition will interfere with the calories you need to stay away from to lose weight.
The bottom line is that eating something before running and after running is equally important and one shouldn’t be picked over the other. How much food you eat and the items depend on numerous factors like the effort and time you used up for running and the normal time at which you take your meals.