This is a question I get asked a lot, but it really comes down to personal preference. Having said that, there are some factors you may want to consider before raiding the fridge.
What type of workout?
The length and type of your workout will have the dictate whether you should eat before your run and how much you should eat.
- For a shorter run of 45 minutes or under, it may be unnecessary for you to consume extra carbohydrates to fuel your system.
- If you were to do a longer run for an hour or more at a relaxed pace, you may require the extra fuel.
- Anything longer than that or a very intense session may require a something more substantial to fuel your increased glycogen demand.
When was your last meal?
How late you ate the night before and the time of your morning run may influence your need to eat before your run.
- If you had an early dinner around 6.00pm and are not running until 7.00am the next day, that's 13 hours your system hasn't consumed any fuel, so you might need a morning snack.
- If you had a late dinner and are kicking off early you may feel energised enough to tackle your morning run without any food.
What to eat before your run
Choose familiar foods that are easy on your system. Low in fat and fibre, and high in carbs will boost your energy without upsetting your stomach. Foods such a white bread, bananas and yoghurt are great options.Avoid eating high fibre foods as you wont make it 30 minutes without a 'Pit stop'. I have learned this the hard way.
When to eat before a workout
Each person is different, but you'll want to eat at least 30 minutes before you head out, so you don't have GI distress when you're on the road.Within 20 minutes of finishing your workout, have a protein-rich snack to repair muscle tissue and carbohydrates to restock your spent energy stores. This will kick start the recovery process, so that you can bounce back quickly for your next workout.
But what if my goal is weight loss?
You may have more calories in your system, but you are going to be able to train longer and harder, which is going to have a much greater effect on your overall weight loss.
Whether you decide to eat before or not, make sure you are well hydrated before your session. Fluids regulate body temperature, help flush our damaged cells and ensure that your joints are adequately lubricated. Aim for at least one cup of water for every 30 minutes training.