What is the Best Diet for Running?

Do you want to become a better runner? If so, finding the right diet for running is essential. You can reach your peak performance if you focus on the right combination of nutrients. In this article, we will discuss the best foods for running and how to create a healthy diet plan.

Quick facts: Best Diet For Running

  • ✅ Eating a high-carbohydrate diet before running can improve performance – Harvard Health
  • ✅ Eating protein and carbohydrates after a run can help reduce muscle soreness and rebuild muscle – The American Council on Exercise
  • ✅ Eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of whole foods is important for runners – American College of Sports Medicine
  • ✅ Increasing your intake of anti-inflammatory foods can help reduce the risk of running-related injuries – Harvard Health
  • ✅ Eating foods high in iron can help prevent anemia caused by heavy running – The American College of Sports Medicine
  • Checkout this video:

    Nutrition Basics

    Nutrition is an important part of any running routine. Proper nourishment helps your body stay fueled and energized during your runs. Knowing which foods to eat and when to eat them is key to getting the most out of your runs. Let’s take a look at some of the nutrition basics for runners:

    Understand the Macronutrients

    Macronutrients are nutrients that provide energy or calories in large amounts. For runners, the three macronutrients are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Paired with the proper amount of activity, a balanced combination of these macronutrients can help runners achieve their fitness goals. Protein provides amino acids for muscle growth and repair, carbohydrates provide the fuel for running performance and recovery, and fats provide important fatty acids for healthy brain functioning.

    To determine the best combination of macronutrients for an individual runner’s needs, they should consider their current fitness level and ultimate fitness goals. Factors like age, sex, body type/composition also play an important role in understanding how to best fuel a runner’s body.

    Generally speaking, however—an individual trying to increase performance should prioritize carbohydrates; while someone trying to maintain muscle mass may prioritize protein intake; while someone looking at weight loss may focus on fat intake.

    Understand the Micronutrients

    Micronutrients are the essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs in order to survive, grow and stay healthy. They are essential for helping your body create energy, repair tissue, break down and absorb food, as well as perform many other important functions.

    When it comes to running, you want to make sure you meet your micronutrient needs so that your performance is at its best. The most important micronutrients for runners include iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium and B-vitamins. Iron is important for nutrient transport throughout the body while calcium helps with bone health; zinc helps with cell growth and repair; magnesium aids in muscle contraction; and B-vitamins help with energy metabolism.

    Eating a balanced diet that consists of whole grains, vegetables, fruits and lean proteins will provide you with all of the necessary micronutrients to fuel your running performance.

    Pre-Run Meal

    Having the right fuel before a run can make a huge difference in your performance. It’s important to find the best diet for running, as it will enable you to make the most out of your runs. Eating a healthy pre-run meal will ensure that your body has all the essential nutrients it needs to sustain your run. Let’s take a look at some of the best pre-run meals:

    Focus on Carbohydrates

    Carbohydrates are an essential fuel source for running because they are the body’s primary energy source. Before a long run, focus on eating a pre-run meal that contains carbohydrates. Carbohydrates provide your body with readily available fuel and break down quickly so you can begin running almost immediately after eating.

    Good sources of carbohydrates for a pre-run meal include:

    • Pasta
    • Oatmeal
    • Rice
    • Bread

    Eating a carb-rich meal will ensure that your body has enough energy to maintain a consistent pace throughout your run. Additionally, adding in some lean proteins and healthy fats can help to sustain energy levels and provide more balanced nutrition. Examples of proteins include:

    • Eggs
    • Fish
    • Legumes
    • Nuts

    Good sources of healthy fats include:

    • Avocados
    • Olive oil
    • Nut butter

    Include Protein

    Including adequate amounts of protein in your pre-run meal is critical for optimal performance. Protein helps to fuel and rebuild the running muscles before and after a long run. It’s suggested that runners consume 10-20 grams of protein one to two hours prior to running, as this will help to keep you feeling fuller for longer and improve endurance on the run.

    Eating a high protein snack such as Greek yogurt, nuts or a turkey sandwich can help ensure your muscles are prepped for the miles ahead. You may also want to include some complex carbohydrates into your meal, such as whole grain toast, oatmeal or a large piece of fruit. Carbohydrates provide energy which will help power your run and optimize performance. Aim for 30-60 grams of carbohydrates in your pre-run meal if possible.

    Include Healthy Fats

    Eating healthy fats helps to reduce inflammation, improve performance, and optimize overall health. During training and prior to running, it’s important to eat foods that contain healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, grass-fed butter and omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish. These can be consumed in the form of an avocado toast or a homemade salad dressed with olive oil – but always be sure to eat them in moderation. Additionally, consuming a small amount of organic nut butter is also an effective way to enjoy healthy fats prior to your run and will help fuel your body throughout your workout.

    Eating more vegetables and fewer processed carbohydrates is also key for reducing inflammation and post-workout fatigue which can interfere with recovery after a run. Taking time to consume quality sources of fat before a run can ensure that you get the most out of your runs!


    Hydration is an essential part of any runner’s diet. It is important to stay hydrated before, during, and after runs in order to maintain adequate levels of energy and to avoid fatigue. Proper hydration will help reduce the risk of injury and help you to perform better.

    Let’s look at ways to maintain a healthy hydration plan for running:

    Know your Sweat Rate

    When running, it is important to understand your sweat rate and make sure you are properly hydrating. Knowing your sweat rate will help you determine how much water or electrolyte-rich beverages you need to consume before, during, and after exercising. The amount of fluid loss per hour will vary from individual to individual but having an idea of the amount of fluid needed can guide and improve your hydration plan.

    It is recommended that you weigh yourself before and after each run to get an accurate measurement of your sweat rate. For every pound lost during exercise, replace by drinking about 16 ounces of water or an electrolyte drink (e.g., Gatorade). Another way to measure sweat loss is by filling up a water bottle before and after a run to see how much has been lost during the activity.

    When sweating excessively during long distance runs, consider adding salts or sugars in addition to the carbohydrates in order to keep up with electrolyte losses:

    • Replace lost fluids with water or electrolyte drinks.
    • Weigh yourself before and after each run.
    • Fill up a water bottle before and after a run to measure sweat loss.
    • Consider adding salts or sugars to replace electrolytes.

    Know Your Fluid Needs

    Proper hydration is an essential part of any good running diet. It’s important to know your individual fluid needs and adjust your intake accordingly to stay hydrated during runs and recover afterwards. This is especially true in hot and humid climates or when exercising for long periods of time.

    It’s best to drink fluids before, during, and after each workout session. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that for every hour of exercise, athletes should drink 24-36 ounces (about 3-4 glasses) of water or sports drinks. Dehydration can lead to serious complications such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke, so it’s important to monitor your fluid levels closely while also listening to body cues like thirst or decreased performance during a run.

    Post-Run Meal

    Whether you’ve just completed a quick jog around the block or a long distance run, post-run nutrition is very important in aiding your body to recover optimally. Eating the right food can help to replenish any energy lost and promote muscular repair.

    Let’s look at the best diet for running after a run:


    Rehydration after a run is one of the most important aspects of a post-run meal. During exercise, the body loses water and electrolytes, especially sodium and potassium. Therefore, it’s important to replace these lost electrolytes in order to replenish the body and prevent dehydration. Sports drinks are often recommended for rehydrating after a long run as they contain both water and electrolytes. However, rehydrating with plain water works just as well if you don’t have access to sports drinks.

    In addition to rehydrating with water or sports drinks, consuming foods high in water content is an excellent way to replenish fluids. Eating fruits such as oranges, melons, grapefruits or pineapple can help with hydration, as well as vegetables like cucumbers or celery which are high in water content:

    • Oranges
    • Melons
    • Grapefruits
    • Pineapple
    • Cucumbers
    • Celery

    Refuel with Carbohydrates

    Running can be an extremely taxing activity on the body, and it’s important to make sure you refuel properly. Carbohydrates are the most important macronutrient for runners because they provide the body with fuel and energy before, during, and after a run. After a long run or race, your body needs to replenish its glycogen stores to replace what it lost during exercise. Eating carbohydrates within 30 minutes post-run can help speed up recovery and contribute to improved performance in your next run.

    A good post-run meal should include both protein and carbohydrates for optimal recovery. Quality sources of carbs include:

    • Whole grains
    • Starchy vegetables (i.e., sweet potatoes)
    • Legumes (i.e., beans)
    • Fruits (i.e., bananas)
    • Dairy products (i.e., yogurt)

    Protein sources like eggs, lean meats (i.e., chicken breast), fish, or plant-based proteins are also recommended to facilitate muscle fast rebuilding after a tough workout or race. Combining these two macronutrients will help replenish lost glycogen stores while providing essential amino acids that support muscle growth and repair.

    Include Protein

    When it comes to a post-run meal, the best diet for running includes protein. Protein is a macronutrient that helps repair muscle tissue, while also supporting muscle growth. After a long run or intense workout, your body needs protein to help build and repair the muscles you’ve just worked out. Protein also helps increase endurance and performance levels, as well as helping with recovery time.

    The sources of protein you should include in your post-run meal depend on your individual needs and fitness goals. Animal-based proteins like chicken and eggs are high in complete proteins, meaning that they contain all nine essential amino acids needed for proper body functioning. Plant based sources such as legumes, nuts, and seeds are also good options for runners looking to get their protein source from plant-based sources. Other sources of high quality protein include Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, beef jerky, salmon or other fatty fish. All of these foods provide ample amounts of quality protein to help fuel your body’s recovery process after a long run or workout session.

    Other Considerations

    Proper nutrition is key in running. Of course, the best diet for running will depend on the individual needs of the runner. But there are a few considerations that all runners should keep in mind when selecting a diet plan. In this article, we will discuss some of the other factors to take into account when selecting a diet plan:

    • Nutrient needs for running
    • The importance of hydration
    • The role of carbohydrates and protein
    • The benefits of healthy fats
    • How to choose the right foods

    Consider Supplements

    When it comes to running, the best diet is one that provides ample nutrients and supports your runs. However, there are some extra considerations when it comes to diet and running that may require the addition of supplements.

    For example, if you struggle with energy during long runs or find you are feeling depleted during training, consider adding supplements such as BCAAs to your routine. Additionally, glucosamine can help runners who experience knee pain due to the repetitive impact running has on our joints. Alternatively, other supplements such as iron and vitamin D can be beneficial for runners with anemia or those not getting enough sunlight exposure.

    Finally, plant-based protein powders can be beneficial for those following a vegan diet or struggling to get enough protein from food sources alone.

    Ultimately, when it comes to dietary supplementation for running performance, start slow and research carefully before trying anything new.

    Monitor Your Performance

    Monitoring your performance while running is an important way to ensure that you’re staying on track with your running goals. A good way to do this is to track the distance, pace and times of your runs throughout the season. This can help you identify areas where you need to focus and make changes in order to improve your overall performance.

    Another way to monitor progress is by tracking metrics such as heart rate, foot strike, stride length, etc. These metrics can provide insight into how well you are executing individual exercises and drills in order to maximize your effectiveness while running. Additionally, tracking these metrics will help identify any potential pattern or habits that could be causing a decrease in performance.

    Finally, another important way to monitor your performance while running is by tracking your diet and food consumption. Eating the right type of foods in the right amounts at the right times can help give you energy while running and make sure that you’re hitting all of your nutrition goals so that you stay healthy and fit for running.

    Listen to Your Body

    When it comes to running and nutrition, the most important thing to do is listen to your body. Running is a form of exercise that can be both physically and mentally demanding, so it’s essential to fuel your body with the foods that make you feel your best. Listen to your body’s signals and trust that if something doesn’t make you feel good, then it’s not the right food for you.

    Stay away from prepackaged or processed foods as much as possible, and instead opt for whole foods that are high in protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. And while it can be difficult to resist sugary snacks or energy bars before or after a run, try to focus on eating a balanced diet that gives you long-lasting energy throughout the day.

    FAQs about: Best Diet For Running

    Q: What kind of diet is best for running?

    A: A balanced diet that includes complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is important for running. Eating a balanced diet can help improve your performance and provide you with the energy needed to run. Additionally, it’s important to stay hydrated with plenty of water.

    Q: What foods should I eat before running?

    A: The best pre-run foods are nutrient-dense and easily digestible, such as bananas, oatmeal, yogurt, whole-grain toast, and smoothies. Eating these foods will provide you with the energy needed for your run. Avoid eating too much or too close to your run as this could cause stomach distress.

    Q: What foods should I avoid when running?

    A: Foods that are high in fat and sugar should be avoided before running. This includes processed and fast foods, as well as sugary snacks and drinks. Eating these types of foods can cause an energy crash, which can lead to fatigue and decreased performance.

    Similar Posts