Fueling Your Run: Optimal Nutrition Before, During, and Afterward
Good performance in running doesn’t solely depend on training; other factors such as diet — in other words, sports nutrition — and hydration play a significant role. These aspects must be considered before, during, and after the race.
Nutrition for athletes should be diverse, always considering the demands of the particular sport. In general, runners are advised to maintain a healthy and balanced diet to provide maximum nutrients and prevent injuries.
What you eat before training can boost your performance. The idea is to eat foods rich in carbohydrates that are easily digested and quickly absorbed to keep your blood sugar levels stable for 30 to 60 minutes before going for a run.
You can eat a breakfast based on:
- Carbohydrates: Cereals or whole grain crackers.
- Natural fruit: Apple, pear, peach, banana or grapes.
- Nuts: Walnuts or almonds.
- Water: It is crucial to maintain optimal hydration, drinking at least two glasses of water.
If you prefer to run on an empty stomach, it is essential to eat a meal beforehand that’s rich in proteins and carbohydrates. For example, consider lean chicken or fish paired with boiled potatoes, brown rice, or vegetables.
Supplements to include during the race
Don't wait until you are thirsty to hydrate. If you are planning to run more than 10 km you should consume between 600 and 1000 ml of additional fluids per hour of training, whether it’s water or electrolyte drinks. Also, remember to fuel up with fast-absorbing carbohydrates such as energy gels, cereal bars, sports drinks, bananas and oranges, all of which help boost energy and combat fatigue.
Nutritious post-race snacks
Post-run nutrition is essential for optimal recovery, with an emphasis on balanced food intake. The idea is to consume foods with a lower glycemic index. Replenish your energy with a snack that pairs carbohydrates and protein.
You can nourish yourself with:
- A mango and chia smoothie.
- A bowl of oatmeal with milk and dried fruit.
- A tortilla with vegetables and a slice of whole wheat bread.
Remember that everyone is unique, and you may need to adjust your diet to your specific needs and goals as a runner. Consider consulting with a nutritionist at the International Hospital of Colombia or a sports specialist to obtain a plan that’s personalized and right for you.