What is the best food for running?

Food for running

Finding the right fuel for running can be tricky. Runners need a mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats to perform their best. Our blog breaks down the top foods that will power your runs and speed up recovery.

Key Takeaways

  • Runners should eat a mix of carbs, protein, and fats to keep their energy up and muscles strong.
  • Foods like whole grains, avocado, Greek yogurt, and lean meats are great for runners.
  • Staying hydrated is key for running well. Drink lots of water and homemade sports drinks.
  • Eating at the right times helps with running. Have good carbs before a run and protein after to help your body recover.
  • Fresh fruits and veggies give you vitamins that can boost performance and speed up recovery.

Nutrients Runners Need

Runners need a balanced intake of carbohydrates, protein, and vitamins/minerals to support their energy levels, muscle recovery, and overall health. It’s important for runners to focus on consuming foods that provide these essential nutrients in order to fuel their performance.


Carbs are key for runners. They give you the energy to go fast and long. Think of carbohydrates as your body’s fuel, just like gas in a car. During a run, your muscles burn these carbs to keep you moving.

To stay powered up, eat foods full of good carbs. These include whole grain breads, pasta, and rice. Add fruits like bananas or berries for a quick boost before running. After running, refuel with carbs plus some protein; this helps rebuild muscles faster.

Choose complex carbohydrates over simple ones for longer-lasting energy. Foods like oatmeal and sweet potatoes break down slowly in your body giving you steady power.

Avoid sugary snacks that only provide short bursts of energy followed by crashes. Go for smart choices that help with endurance and recovery after your runs.


Good protein sources for runners include meat, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products, tofu, and beans. These foods are essential as they help in repairing and building muscles after a run.

Including protein in your post-run meals and snacks can aid in muscle recovery and prevent muscle breakdown. Additionally, consuming a well-balanced ratio of carbohydrates to protein is crucial for optimizing your nutrition as a runner.

It’s important to focus on consuming food high in antioxidants and vitamins to support your running performance and recovery. Ensure that your diet includes a mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats to fuel your runs and aid in muscle recovery.

Vitamins and minerals

Vitamins and minerals are crucial for runners’ performance. You need a variety of nutrients, like vitamins A, B, C, D, E, K, as well as minerals such as calcium, iron, and phosphorus to support your body during runs and aid in recovery.

These can be found in fresh fruits and vegetables which are rich in antioxidants — these help to protect your cells from damage caused by running.

To keep your body strong while running long distances or training for marathons it’s important to focus on consuming foods high in vitamins and minerals along with other macronutrients.

The Best Foods for Runners

Avocado, fatty fish, plant seed oils, peanut butter, whole grain carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables, Greek yogurt, and eggs are some of the best foods for runners. These foods provide a mix of healthy fats, protein, and carbohydrates to fuel your runs and aid in muscle recovery.


Avocado is packed with healthy fats and various vitamins and minerals, making it an ideal food for runners. It contains monounsaturated fats that can help lower bad cholesterol levels, providing a heart-healthy option for athletes.

With its high potassium content, avocado also assists in maintaining proper muscle function and electrolyte balance during intense workouts. Additionally, the high fiber content supports digestive health, which is crucial for runners needing sustained energy throughout their training sessions and races.

Incorporating avocado into meals or snacks can offer a creamy texture while contributing to overall nutrition by providing essential nutrients such as vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, B5, B6; all of which are beneficial for maintaining bone health and reducing inflammation commonly associated with strenuous physical activity.

Fatty fish

Fatty fish, like salmon and mackerel, provide omega-3 fatty acids that are crucial for heart health and reducing inflammation. These fats can also aid in muscle recovery after a long run, supporting overall performance for runners.

Incorporating fatty fish into your diet ensures you get essential nutrients such as protein, vitamin D, and selenium to support muscle strength and immune function.

Consuming fatty fish at least twice a week is recommended for runners due to its potential benefits in reducing muscle soreness post-exercise and improving cardiovascular health. Adding grilled or baked salmon to salads or enjoying a tuna sandwich can help you meet your nutritional needs while optimizing your running performance.

Plant seed oils

Plant seed oils like flaxseed, chia seed, and hemp seed oil are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation and support heart health. These oils are great for runners as they can aid in post-run muscle recovery and provide a healthy source of fat to fuel long-distance runs.

In addition to their anti-inflammatory properties, plant seed oils also contain antioxidants that help protect the body from free radical damage caused by intense exercise.

Incorporating plant seed oils into your diet can be as simple as drizzling them over salads or adding them to smoothies. The high omega-3 content in these oils makes them an essential part of a runner’s balanced diet, helping with muscle repair and providing lasting energy during training sessions and races.

Peanut butter

Peanut butter is a powerhouse for runners, providing a good dose of protein and healthy fats. It also offers essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin E, magnesium, and potassium, promoting muscle recovery post-run.

With its combination of carbohydrates and protein, it’s an excellent choice to spread on whole grain toast or mixed into smoothies as part of a balanced pre- or post-run meal plan.

Its versatility makes it a convenient option for fueling long-distance runs or aiding in muscle repair after intense training sessions.

In addition to being delicious and satisfying, peanut butter contains antioxidants that support the body’s overall health while benefiting runners with its energy-boosting qualities.

Whole grain carbohydrates

Whole grain carbohydrates are a crucial source of fuel for runners. They provide lasting energy, fiber, and essential nutrients like B vitamins and iron. Foods such as whole grain bread, brown rice, quinoa, oats, and whole wheat pasta can help sustain endurance during long runs and aid in muscle recovery post-run.

Incorporating whole grain carbohydrates into your meals can also help regulate blood sugar levels and keep you feeling full for longer periods. These foods are an excellent addition to pre-run meals or snacks as they release energy gradually throughout the run.

Including a variety of whole grains in your diet can contribute to better overall performance and sustained energy levels during training or races.

Fresh fruits and vegetables

Fresh fruits and vegetables are vital for runners, providing essential vitamins and minerals like A, B, C, K and potassium. They are rich in antioxidants which support running performance and recovery.

Including a variety of colorful fruits such as berries, citrus fruits, and bananas can replenish glycogen stores post-run due to their high carbohydrate content. Leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale offer iron for maintaining energy levels during runs.

Incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into a runner’s diet is crucial for overall health and wellbeing. Snacking on carrots or celery before a run provides natural sugars that sustain energy levels throughout the workout while promoting hydration with their high water content.

Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt is a powerhouse of protein and probiotics, perfect for runners. It provides essential nutrients like calcium, potassium, and vitamin D that aid in maintaining strong bones and muscle function.

The high protein content helps with muscle recovery after a run, promoting optimal performance during training and races. Greek yogurt also contains gut-friendly bacteria, supporting digestive health which is crucial for overall well-being while training for marathons or other running events.

Rich sources of nutrition like Greek yogurt are ideal additions to the diets of runners looking to enhance their performance, support muscle recovery, and maintain overall health. With its combination of protein, vitamins, and probiotics, it’s an excellent choice as a pre-run snack or post-run meal to fuel the body effectively under endurance conditions.


Eggs are a great source of protein for runners, aiding in muscle recovery and strength. They also provide essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin D, which is important for bone health, as well as choline, which supports brain function and overall energy levels.

For runners looking to optimize their nutrition, incorporating eggs into their diet can provide a convenient and versatile option for meeting their protein needs. Whether it’s having them for breakfast or adding hard-boiled eggs to salads or sandwiches, the nutritional benefits of eggs make them an excellent choice for supporting running performance and recovery.

Meal Timing for Runners

Before a run, it’s essential to fuel up with a balanced meal that includes carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. During a run, snacks like energy gels or homemade sports drinks can help maintain energy levels.

After a run, focus on replenishing with a nutritious meal that includes protein for muscle recovery and carbohydrates for glycogen repletion.

Before a run

Fuel your body with the right food before a run to optimize your performance and energy levels. Here’s what to eat:

  1. Whole grain toast with almond butter – provides a good source of carbohydrates and healthy fats for sustained energy levels.
  2. Greek yogurt with berries – offers a balance of protein and carbohydrates, aiding in muscle repair and providing antioxidants.
  3. Oatmeal topped with banana slices – rich in fiber and potassium, helping to sustain energy levels throughout your run.
  4. Scrambled eggs with spinach – high in protein, iron, and vitamins A and C for muscle function and oxygen transport.
  5. Fruit smoothie with protein powder – a quick source of easily digestible nutrients, including carbohydrates and protein for fueling your run.

During a run

During a run, it is essential to maintain hydration and provide your body with quick energy sources.

  1. Consume easily digestible carbohydrates in the form of energy gels or chews to fuel your muscles during prolonged runs.
  2. Hydrate with water or homemade sports drinks to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes.
  3. Avoid consuming heavy foods that may cause discomfort or cramping during your run.
  4. Snack on small portions of fruits like bananas or raisins for a quick energy boost without causing stomach upset.
  5. Consume high – carbohydrate snacks such as pretzels or granola bars to sustain energy levels throughout your run.

After a run

Replenish your body with the right nutrition after a run to aid in muscle recovery and restore energy levels.

  1. Choose post – run meals or snacks that have a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein, such as a turkey sandwich with whole grain bread.
  2. Include foods rich in antioxidants and vitamins like fruits and vegetables, which can help reduce inflammation and support recovery.
  3. Consume lean proteins like chicken or fish to help repair and rebuild muscles after exercise.
  4. Hydrate with a combination of water and homemade sports drinks to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes.
  5. Incorporate healthy fats from sources like avocados or nuts to support joint health and reduce muscle soreness.

Hydration for Runners

Hydration is crucial for runners, so make sure to drink plenty of water, homemade sports drinks, or use energy gels/shots during your training and races. For more tips on running nutrition and meal timing, keep reading!

Water intake

Runners need to stay well-hydrated to support their performance and recovery. Drinking enough water helps maintain the body’s temperature, transport nutrients, and cushion joints. It also aids in digestion and prevents muscle fatigue.

In addition to water intake, consuming electrolyte-rich fluids can help replace lost sodium and potassium during long runs or races. Dehydration can negatively impact a runner’s performance, so it’s essential to drink regularly throughout the day and monitor urine color as an indicator of hydration status.

Replacing fluids after a run is crucial for rehydrating the body. Post-run hydration should include both water and electrolyte-rich beverages to replenish what was lost through sweating.

Homemade sports drinks

Homemade sports drinks can be a great option for runners to stay hydrated and replenish electrolytes lost during long runs. A well-balanced homemade sports drink can provide the necessary hydration and nutrients without the added sugars and artificial ingredients found in many commercial sports drinks. Here are some easy recipes for homemade sports drinks that you can try:

  1. Coconut Water Electrolyte Drink: Coconut water is a natural source of electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, and magnesium. Mix coconut water with a splash of fresh orange juice for a refreshing and hydrating sports drink.
  2. Lemon-Lime Electrolyte Drink: Mix freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice with water, a pinch of salt, and a tablespoon of honey or maple syrup for a simple yet effective homemade sports drink.
  3. Watermelon Sports Drink: Blend fresh watermelon chunks with cold water and add a sprinkle of sea salt to create a refreshing and hydrating sports drink that also provides natural sugars for energy.
  4. Chia Seed Hydration Drink: Soak chia seeds in water or coconut water for at least 30 minutes until they form a gel-like consistency. Add some honey or agave nectar for sweetness and enjoy this hydrating chia seed drink during or after your run.
  5. Pineapple Ginger Hydration Elixir: Blend fresh pineapple chunks with grated ginger, water, and a drizzle of honey to create an energizing and hydrating sports drink that also aids digestion.
  6. Green Tea Sports Drink: Brew green tea, let it cool down, then mix it with cold water, honey, and a pinch of salt to create an antioxidant-rich homemade sports drink that boosts energy levels.

Energy gels/shots

Runners often use energy gels or shots to replenish carbohydrates during long runs. These products provide a quick source of easily digestible carbs, helping sustain energy levels.

It’s important to remember that not all gels/shots are created equal, so it’s crucial for runners to find one that works best for their body. Look for options with electrolytes and avoid excessive sugar content, as this can lead to stomach discomfort.

During long-distance runs, taking an energy gel or shot every 45-60 minutes can help maintain endurance. However, it’s vital to drink water alongside these gels/shots to aid in their absorption and prevent dehydration.

Hydration during training and races

Stay hydrated during training and races by drinking water or homemade sports drinks. Water is essential for preventing dehydration, while homemade sports drinks can replenish lost electrolytes.

Energy gels/shots are also beneficial to maintain energy levels during long runs, ensuring your body stays fueled. And remember, proper hydration supports performance and aids in muscle recovery, allowing you to run at your best.

Keep up with hydration during training and races by being mindful of your water intake and incorporating energy-boosting foods into your diet. Homemade sports drinks will help maintain electrolyte balance while providing the necessary fuel for endurance.


In conclusion, a balanced diet with carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats is essential for runners. Foods like avocado, fatty fish, whole grains, and fresh fruits provide the necessary nutrients.

It’s important to focus on proper meal timing and hydration before, during, and after runs. With the right nutrition plan and good food choices, runners can enhance their performance and recovery.


What should I eat before I go for a run?

Eat a prerun meal that’s high in carbohydrates, has some protein, and includes healthy fats to give you energy.

Why are fruits and vegetables good for runners?

Fruits and vegetables provide vitamins and minerals that help with muscle recovery and boost your energy levels for running.

What snacks are best for fueling runners?

Runners should pick snacks like bananas or whole-grain crackers that give quick energy and help keep endurance up during long runs.

How do I make sure I have enough energy for a marathon?

Follow a marathon nutrition plan that includes plenty of carbs, healthy eating habits, and well-timed meals to maintain strong performance throughout the race.

What foods will help me recover after my run?

For postrun nutrition, choose foods rich in proteins such as yogurt or chicken, along with complex carbs to aid in muscle recovery and replenish lost energy.

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