One of the most frequently asked questions at Boobs on the Run is what to eat before a run. We had a chat with nutritionist Virginnia Thomas from Nourishing Pantry to learn some tips and tricks for sustaining energy and avoiding those awkward mid-run stomach troubles.
Firstly, it’s important to keep in mind that the timing and quantities of what you need to eat will be different from your peers. Generally though the longer you can abstain before a run, the better. Virginnia says it’s worth experimenting and listening to your body. Her other big tip is to make sure you stay hydrated. “Food eaten before exercising is only useful once it has been digested and absorbed,” she explains. “The actual digestion process takes different amounts of time depending on the type and quantity of food consumed.”
Just before a run, steer clear of foods high in fat, protein and fibre because they can take a long time to digest and may cause bloating and stomach pain.
When it comes to night runs, Virginnia suggests focusing on lunch with a small snack an hour before running. Her recommended meal plan in preparation for a night run is:
Breakfast – “Try avocado on toast with tuna or sardines. Or add a tin of salmon or tuna to a bag of greens.” For those who can’t stomach food first thing in the morning, she suggests ‘bulletproof coffee’. “It’s basically black coffee with coconut oil and butter,” she explains. “It sounds weird but if you blend it with a little honey it is pretty good and will keep you going for hours.”
Lunch – Aim to eat at least 100 grams of protein such as meat, beans, legumes, eggs, tofu or nuts. You should also be adding carbohydrates to your food. “Carbs have such a bad rap right now. If you want long-lasting energy you need to have slow-releasing carbs from wholegrains which are lower in GI,” she says. “So switch refined white bread for sourdough, wholegrain or multigrain; swap muesli with lots of fruit to one with more nuts; and eat sweet potato instead of white potato. Also, basmati rice has the lowest GI of the white rices.”
Virginnia says we also have to stop being so scared of fat because it works as an energy reserve as well as insulation and protection for our vital organs. “The human body needs fat to function, but it needs the right sort of fat,” she continues. “Add olive oil or avocado oil to salad and sprinkle sunflower and pumpkin seeds on your yoghurt and fruit. Adding a teaspoon of butter to steamed vegetables helps with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
Pre-run snack - “Eating dinner and then running within 30 minutes is a recipe for a stitch,” she says. “This pre-running snack is only necessary if you really feel you need to eat.” For those who need the extra fuel, an hour or two prior to training have a small, easy-to-digest snack such as a smoothie with a banana, a couple of boiled eggs dipped in dukkah, some yoghurt or nut butter on apple slices.
Virginnia’s slow release crackers recipe
Based on a recipe by Alexx Stuart:
30g coconut oil or butter
20g sesame seeds
60g sunflower seeds
80g pumpkin seeds
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
3 fresh thyme stalks (just the leaves)
Preheat oven to 180C (165C for fan forced). Blend garlic and fennel until well chopped. Add seeds and pulse again until you have a grainy "meal" consistency. Add coconut oil and egg and combine well, scraping down the sides of the blender. Your cracker dough is done.
Place dough in a heap on a parchment sheet and cover with another parchment sheet. Roll it out thinly. Remove the top layer of parchment. Cut out the dough with a cookie cutter or cut into cracker shapes with a knife. Bake for about 20 minutes.
For more meal ideas head to:
Nourishing Pantry – Meal Ideas:
What do you eat before a run? Tell us in the comments below.