The 5 best pre-run snacks
Eating before your run
It’s a classic runner’s problem; you’re hungry (again!) and yet you’re due to go for a run. The dilemma lies in knowing what to eat and how much you can get away with, without making the run uncomfortable. As a runner, snacking should form an important part of your overall nutrition strategy. Not only does it help to keep your blood sugar levels stable, fuelling correctly tops up your glycogen stores and increases your carbohydrate availability, which in turn will optimise your performance.
So, what is best to eat? Generally carbohydrate based snacks are best as they are easily digestible and provide a good source of energy. The big no-no’s are foods that are very high in fibre or fat and spicy foods as these can cause abdominal discomfort. With this in mind, check out these top pre-run snacks to help you snack like a pro!
The banana is a simple but very effective staple runners’ snack. Bananas are chock full of carbohydrate and are a good source of vitamin B6, which helps convert carbohydrate into usable energy. They are also packed with potassium, an essential mineral necessary for blood sugar maintenance and electrolyte balance.
A berry smoothie makes a refreshing and easily digestible pre-run snack that’s packed with nutrients. Summer berries such as strawberries, raspberries and blueberries and blackberries are rich in antioxidants which help to fight inflammation and the effects of free radicals which can damage the body’s cells and organs. In addition to their antioxidant properties, berries may also promote vasodilatation of the blood vessels, thus helping to increase blood flow and oxygen uptake.
Oatcakes make a great healthy snack. They are high in complex carbohydrates, which give you a sustained energy release. Try them with a variety of toppings, sweet or savoury, to suit your taste.
Malt loaf is a fabulous pre-run fuel as it’s packed with carbs, portable and easily digestible. You can slice it or simply just tear chunks off it! What’s more there are now a variety of different flavours available if you fancy something different from the traditional malt loaf; banana, orange, and apple and sultana are definitely winners!
Bagels are packed with carbohydrate, which make them an ideal pre-run food. Wholegrain varieties are best as they have a lower glycaemic index, releasing glucose into the bloodstream slower for a more sustained energy release. Again, top them with whatever takes your fancy. Jam and honey are good options as they contain concentrated carbs. However, peanut butter also makes great fuel for runners. It’s a good source of protein so it keeps you feeling fuller for longer, and contains the anti-oxidant vitamin E, magnesium, potassium and vitamin B6. Yes, it’s high in fat, but it’s packed with good fat (monounsaturated) and a little can go a long way.
Written by Louise Damen
Louise is a two-time England Cross Country Champion and a former European XC Trials winner. She has also represented GB at various international events and her marathon PB is 2:30:00.