Last Updated: December 31st, 2020
Remember when we were kids, our elders used to tell us to wait for sometime after food then go to play. Well, they had their reasons. Ever wondered why?
Is Running Right After Eating Bad?
Yes, running right after eating is bad because it can lead to digestion problems and you also tend to feel sluggish to run right after a meal. There could be chances of throwing up as well. It is a good idea to wait for sometime after a meal and then go for a run.
Well, you get a general idea, but the question remains when to eat, how long to wait, etc…To know more, read on.
How soon after eating should you run?
This really depends on how much you have eaten.
You can broadly categorize your meal as a large meal or a small snack.
A large meal is mostly over 600 cal and it consists of complex carbs, proteins, and fats something like a lunch or a heavy snack.
After consuming a full meal it is better to wait for 3-4 hrs before you go for a run or undertake any other form of exercise.
A large meal takes more time to get digested.
For the digestion of the food, more blood flow is towards your abdomen and less blood flows through the muscle of limbs.
If you plan to take up running or any other strenuous exercise, more blood is required by the muscle of the limbs, and blood is drawn away from the stomach.
So, both digestion and exercise cannot be handled by your body simultaneously.
As a result, you end up getting stomach cramps or indigestion, and sometimes you may even throw up.
If you took a snack, which is typically around 200 cal, you can run mostly after an hour.
It takes lesser time for your body to digest a smaller meal and you are ready for your workout only after a while.
What to eat before you run?
Running or any other form of exercise and food – they go hand in hand.
You have to maintain a balance between the two to remain healthy.
Deciding what to eat depends on what time you are running and how much you are running.
Let’s say you are running for a duration of 45-60 mins.
One mistake that many runners do is running on an empty stomach in the morning.
You would have had your last meal the previous evening.
If you do not eat before your morning run, there is a gap of approx 10-12 hrs between your meals.
You may feel fatigued while running or after running.
It is a good practice to have a light breakfast before the morning run (give a gap of 30-60 mins).
If you plan to run very early in the morning(5 AM), you may not be willing to eat a small breakfast that early.
Breakfast option for 5 AM run:
- Half banana
- Half apple
- Handful of cereals
- A handful of nuts and seeds
If you are running a little later in the morning (7 or 8 AM), you can plan for a mini breakfast ahead.
- Boiled egg with a slice of whole-wheat toast
- Smoothie with fruits
- Yogurt with fruits
- Protein/granola bar
Keep in mind to avoid fat in the morning, as it takes more time to digest.
If you are planning for a mid-day run, make sure you have a good breakfast 3-4 hrs before your run.
Keep your breakfast a healthy combination of carbs and proteins.
You can add fruits to your breakfast or opt to munch on a small portion of fruit 45-60 min prior to your run.
If you plan to run in the evening, plan for an early wholesome lunch.
Keep a gap of 3-4 hrs between your lunch and your run.
45-60 mins before your run eat a light snack like:
- Granola bar
- A handful of dried fruits, nuts, and seeds
- Protein shake
If you are planning to run long (over 60 min), you must eat one hour of the run and take a little portion after every 30 min after that.
Anything like a granola bar, electrolyte based drink, energy gels are safe to consume while running.
Specifically, energy gels are very convenient. They come in portable packages and are easy to carry.
You may easily tuck them in your running pouch or your shorts pocket.
If you intend to use them, here is the correct way to take your running gels.
Should I run on an empty stomach?
This again has contrasting answers.
It very much depends on the reason behind your running and your current fitness level.
If your target is to lose some pounds by running, I would recommend it is better to run on an empty stomach.
By running on an empty stomach your body makes use of the stored glucose (in the form of glycogen) to burn and provide the energy to run.
Once the body enters the glycogen depleted state, it burns the fatty acid present in your body to provide fuel for the run.
If you are relatively fit and your running goal is to build up your running potential, then you must not run empty stomach.
Eating a small portion before your run gives you sufficient stamina and prevents you from getting into a fatigued state.
Previously I have mentioned some of the options of pre-run food that you can eat.
In both the case you must drink a glass of water before your run.
How long after porridge should I run?
Porridge is considered as one of the best breakfast.
It is a wonder food when it comes to pre-running snacks.
It has abundant carbohydrates that keep you going longer.
Porridge also has a low glycaemic index which helps in maintaining your blood sugar level.
Normally you should wait for 45-60 min after having porridge before you step out to run.
Is oatmeal good to eat after running?
Like I said oatmeal is a wonder food for athletes and for people engaged with a strenuous workout.
Oatmeal is a porridge made with oats boiled in milk or water or both.
It is rich in complex carbohydrates, proteins, and dietary fibers.
It has a low glycemic index which means it regulates the blood sugar level in the bloodstream.
Oatmeal provides you with a regular dose of Vitamin B and antioxidants.
If you top it up with honey, dry fruits, or fresh fruits, you can increase its benefits.
With all this goodness it serves as an excellent recovery food.
What not to eat after running?
Well after a good run where you have burned loads of calories, you would definitely not want all of that going down the drain by not eating right.
Yes, your choice of recovery food makes a lot of difference.
A simple guideline for what should be avoided as much as possible:
Food and beverages with sugar content – Fatigue and dizziness make you reach for foods with high sugar content. They compensate for the energy loss and make you feel better instantaneously.
However, they increase your blood sugar level. Some sports drink comes with high sugar content. You should check the content before consuming it. Sometimes plain water is sufficient to make up for that dehydration.
Alcohol – Alcohol makes you more dehydrated. Apart from that it also delays muscle recovery.
Smoothie – If the proportions of carbs and protein are not correct then this may not be a good option to opt for post-run.
Too much Protein – Your body needs protein to fix the wear and tear of the muscles. But too much protein may become difficult for your body to digest. Instead, you should eat the right balance of protein and carbohydrates.
Timberlake, William, and Mark Wozny. “Reversibility of reinforcement between eating and running by schedule changes: A comparison of hypotheses and models.” Animal Learning & Behavior 7.4 (1979): 461-469.
Weight, Lindsay M., and Timothy D. Noakes. “Is running an analog of anorexia? A survey of the incidence of eating disorders in female distance runners.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (1987).
Anderson, L.M., Reilly, E.E., Gorrell, S. and Anderson, D.A., 2016. Running to win or to be thin? An evaluation of body dissatisfaction and eating disorder symptoms among adult runners. Body Image, 17, pp.43-47.
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