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What and When to Eat for a Run

We’ve all been there — you’re in between meals, but it’s time for a run, and your stomach is growling. You know it’s not good to run on an empty stomach, but if you eat the wrong thing, the whole run could turn into a disaster. You need to find a snack that’ll give you energy but can last through the entire workout. But what do you look for? How do you choose a snack that won’t upset your stomach?

What and When to Eat for a Run

It’s important to note that everyone is different. Some people have a more sensitive stomach when it comes to running, so what works for one person may not work for another. Runners should play around with what works best for them. It’s also important to try out any new snacks before a regular run, not before a race. Also, staying hydrated goes a long way, so regardless of what and when you eat, make sure you’re getting enough water throughout the day.


Especially for runners, carbs are not the enemy. When narrowing down your snack choices, start with carbohydrate-rich foods. I recommend fruit, juice, crackers or a bar with a protein-and fat-rich food like peanut butter, string cheese, yogurt or a smoothie.

It’s important to choose easily digestible carbs and to avoid heavy foods that are high in fiber, or anything too spicy or fatty. Avoid too much fiber, fat, or calories as they take longer to digest.

It’s also important to look at a food’s glycemic index value. The higher the GI value, the more that food is going to spike your blood sugar and give you a quick energy boost. If it’s close to your run, you’ll want something higher on the GI. If you have more time, you may want something that’s lower on the GI because your body has more time to absorb it. Some coaches also recommend eating a food with a high GI score as soon as you finish a hard workout because the insulin boost that comes with it can help recovery.


Choosing the right snack also depends on how far you plan to run and how long before the run you eat. If you are heading out the door immediately, eat 100–150 calories of something that scores middle-to-high on the glycemic index. Good options include a banana, apple (or unsweetened applesauce), a few orange slices or a piece of toast.

If you have an hour or more for your snack to digest, I recommend consuming up to 300 calories. You can also add in a little bit of protein to help fuel recovery. I’ve even done hard boiled eggs if it’s long enough before a run.

Try foods like oatmeal and fruit, a cup of cereal with milk, two toaster waffles with apple sauce, a rice cake with peanut butter, a couple slices of turkey on a tortilla, or carrots and hummus.

Don’t like those options? The important thing is finding what’s best for your body. It also depends on digestion and how quickly a person can assimilate what they are eating without ending up with stomach cramps or feeling weighed down. Most times I don’t eat anything before a training run of 12 miles or less.

Run Eugene Run is a 501c3 charity raising funds through running, to fund diabetes awareness and research. Eugene is a diabetic, coach and runner. Click here to read Eugene’s story. Follow Eugene on Facebook or Twitter as he trains for his next marathon. Click here to donate.


D. EUGENE THOMPSON, Marathon Runner

Eugene Thompson is a Type 2 Diabetic. After years of struggling with his weight, lack of energy and a little denial, Eugene got off the couch, started a diet and began running. Did he run! In 2015, he ran a total of 13 marathons in 11 different states. During his travel, he began talking to people about his Diabetes and what motivated him to run. And yes, he heard a lot of …Run Forest Run! That is what inspired RUN EUGENE RUN. Now, Eugene inspires others to get off the couch, run and eat right.

RUN EUGENE RUN is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization founded in in Hampton Roads Virginia, with a goal to educate and inspire those suffering from diabetes. Through running in marathons, coaching, dietary plans, public speaking and online messaging, RUN EUGENE RUN will reach those living with diabetes and help raise money for diabetes research.

Click here to contact RUN EUGENE RUN

Eugene Thompson is President / Founder/ Senior Architect of Ionic Design Studios in Virginia Beach and Richmond, Virginia. He lives in Virginia Beach with his wife, children and grandchildren.


The information in this blog and on the RUN EUGENE RUN website is for information purposes only. The organization is a charity, not a medical organization. Please consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise program or changing your diet.

Photos from KEKO64 (Yogurt) and nenetus (woman)

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