Ask any experienced runner, and they almost certainly have a horror story they’re happy to share — in excruciating detail — about the time they ate that one thing and experienced a potty disaster while running. The stomach is unique to each person. Unfortunately, this implies that every runner must figure out when and what to eat before running on their own (via trial and error). But every expert concurs: Any athlete needs a pre-workout meal to effectively fuel exercise.

You need to learn when to gobble down your meal or snack in addition to knowing what to eat before running. If you have been eating enough throughout the day and have scheduled your run to coincide with your last meal or snack, you should be adequately fed if you are running later in the day. According to registered dietitian Sabrina Russo, R.D., who practices in New York City, meals should be consumed three to four hours before you begin running, while snacks should be ingested 30 to 60 minutes beforehand.

60 Minutes Maximum

In this scenario, the fuel you use will rely on your unique requirements. If you’ve been eating well all day, you might not need anything additional, but you also might feel the need for a rapid energy boost (from an easily digestible simple carb like a piece of fruit). If you’re expecting to run for 30 to 40 minutes or less at a low or moderate effort, it’s okay if you haven’t eaten in a few hours or if you’re doing it first thing in the morning before an overnight fast because you’ll have enough fuel in reserve. Has you ever try airfoods? If no then must try this food and check this guide on how to make airfood.

60-90 Minutes

I advise having a pre-run meal or snack if you’re running a long distance (six miles or more) or want to run for longer than 60 minutes.

90 Plus Minutes

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American College of Sports Medicine both recommend eating 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour spaced 15 to 20 minutes apart for runs longer than 90 minutes because research shows that your body’s blood sugar, which it relies on for energy, can become depleted within one to two hours of running.

How to Fuel Up for a Run

When and how far you expect to run will determine what to eat before; the longer you intend to run, the more food you’ll need. Whatever your running strategy, don’t forget to drink water! Drinking enough water is an essential component of any fueling strategy because even the best nutritional practices won’t assist if you’re dehydrated.

Having a substantial lunch before exercising

For a pre-run breakfast or snack, it’s a good idea to combine protein with simple and complex carbohydrates to encourage a continuous energy burn. While complex carbohydrates have a slower burn and will keep you going for the duration of your miles, simple carbohydrates are essential for a quick energy source that will be consumed in the early phases of your run. The total pace of digestion will be slowed down by a small to moderate amount of protein, allowing for a consistent release of energy to prevent exhaustion.

Examples of foods to eat before exercising include:

  • A sandwich on whole-wheat bread
  • A banana-topped yogurt omelet with oats and egg whites
  • Baked potato and grilled chicken

If all you want is a pre-run snack

A pre-run snack should be low in fat and fiber, which are digested more slowly, and moderate amounts of carbohydrates and protein. You should eat things that won’t induce an energy surge and crash, such as fiber and fat, but also won’t sit in your stomach for a long time.

Examples of foods to eat before rushing to get snacks include:

  • A slice of whole-grain bread or a half banana with one or two teaspoons of nut butter (which helps because it digests more quickly than entire nuts)
  • made-at-home energy balls
  • mini protein pancakes, nut butter, and one or two

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