October 20, 2014

Ask the Expert: What Should I Eat When I’m Running a 5k?

I’m running my first 5k in a couple weeks and I’m not sure what to eat before the run or if I’m even suppose to eat. Any ideas?” – Anika from Tennessee

Great question! Meal timing is an important factor to consider when training for any type of endurance race. You want to avoid simple sugars, and high amounts of fiber, fat and protein for 30-60 minutes before you run. Fiber, fat, and protein take longer to empty from the stomach and may cause indigestion and upset stomach during your run. And that’s just not fun. Additionally, simple sugars (like candy, pastries, sodas, etc) may be quick to spike your blood sugar and give you a surge of energy, but then drastically drop, leaving you feeling spent early in the run or even before you begin. If you are going to eat before a run, try this out:

30-60 minutes: banana, low sugar smoothie
60-90 minutes: small bowl of low sugar, low fiber cereal (cheerios for example), Clif bar (or other nutrition bar), peanut butter sandwich

If you plan to eat a meal, do it 3-4 hours before the race. If you’re used to not eating before races/runs and that works for you to, then do that. Just be sure to eat or drink something for recovery with a mix of carbohydrates and protein. Everyone’s body works a little differently; you have to find what works for you.

This question was answered by expert Ashley Galloway, MS, RD from the Fresh Beet.  

Ashley Galloway, MS, RDAshley Galloway earned her Masters in Nutrition Education & Health Promotion from Florida State University and is a practicing Registered Dietitian in Illinois. She has experience as a clinical dietitian, provides nutrition counseling services and is a freelance nutrition writer. In her spare time you can find her brewing up a batch of kombucha, training for endurance races or cooking up a storm in the kitchen. 

 

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