Breakfast for Runners – 5 Tips on What to Eat Before a Morning Run

If you are a runner, there is a chance that you are an early riser and like to get out the door for your long runs first thing in the morning.  There are definitely benefits to running first thing in the morning.  

For one, as everyone is just getting up for the day you have already finished your workout!  Also, you miss the midday heat in the summer.  Finally, you can enjoy TWO breakfasts!

That’s right, one breakfast before your run and one after.  What could be better than that?!

Although I am a huge advocate and personal fan of the second breakfast after a long run, this post is going to review some tips on what to eat before your morning run, as told by a dietitian. 

Are you ready to learn more about arguably the most important meal of the day for runners?  

Let’s dive in!

Tip 1: When to eat before your morning run

When to eat before your morning run depends a little bit on when you are going out for your run.  Are you waking up and getting out the door as soon as possible, or are you taking your time doing your morning routine?

You should try to eat a full breakfast around an hour before you head out for a run.  If this is not feasible given time constraints, at minimum you should eat a carbohydrate heavy snack prior to running.

Tip 2: What to eat before morning run

Your pre-run breakfast should be heavy in easy to digest carbohydrates and contain some protein.  What are easy to digest carbohydrates?  Basically, they are carbs that are low in fiber that are easy for your body to break down.

Some examples of pre-run breakfasts include:

  • Toast with jelly and eggs
  • Oatmeal with berries and peanut butter
  • Yogurt with fruit and granola
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • Bagel with cream cheese 
  • Avocado toast with eggs

All of these breakfast items should be enjoyed with a glass of water or sports drink for some pre-exercise hydration.  

Tip 3: What about a pre run snack

So you are in a time crunch and don’t have time to prepare and sit down to enjoy a breakfast before your run.  I would recommend allowing enough time to consume the energy you need in the form of a full breakfast, but I get it, life gets in the way sometimes.

In that case you should eat a quick snack to avoid running fasted aka running an empty stomach.  Throughout the night your glycogen stores are depleted and your blood sugars decrease, so you need to give yourself some carbs to jump start your brain and body!

Some examples of quick carb snacks to enjoy include:

  • Applesauce
  • Gels
  • Granola bars
  • Energy balls
  • Fruit
  • Fig bars

Tip 4: What about coffee before a run

Coffee is a staple in many people’s every day diet.  Coffee is full of caffeine which can help jump start our days, but will coffee help jump start our runs?

The caffeine found in coffee is considered to be a stimulant, and there is research that shows that caffeine can decrease perceived effort on a run.  Which makes caffeine seem like a positive for runners.

Although, there are some potential negative side effects of consuming caffeine prior to a run, including gi distress, jitteriness, anxiousness, and increased heart beat.

As with many nutrition related things, when it comes to coffee before a run it is an individual choice.  If you think coffee helps you feel better on your run, then go for it!  If you think there are too many negative effects, then skip it.

Tip 5: If you are training for a race, practice your nutrition

As a runner, it is imperative to practice your pre-race nutrition plan during your training.  Most races are in the morning, so your pre-race breakfast is going to be super important.  Take the time to trial some options for what you are going to eat before your race during training.

Everyone’s bodies respond to all foods differently.  You definitely do not want to get to race day and not have a plan on what to eat before your run.  This becomes even more important for longer distances such as a half or full marathon.

Practice, practice, practice your nutrition!

Overview

In conclusion, nutrition for runners should be individualized.  Although the timing and what you eat is very important, there are no cookie cutter options for runners.

Your lifestyle, and what you can tolerate on the run is going to be very important when deciding what to eat before your morning run.  

Remember, runners need breakfast to fuel their runs and enhance performance.

Try out a few breakfast options to decide what works well for you!  

If you enjoyed this post, leave a comment below and follow me on Instagram for more!  As always, happy running 🙂

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