The 6 Worst Foods to Eat Before a Run

Photo: Sunchase Media for RUNGRL

Photo: Sunchase Media for RUNGRL

By Natalie Robinson

Your choice of pre-run snacks can build the foundation for a really good (or really bad) running experience. Your body needs fuel to sustain energy through your run. You may be familiar with obvious foods to avoid before a run such as pizza, fried foods, and anything loaded with sugar and empty calories.

However, you might be surprised to learn that some of the foods you thought would be a healthy option are actually among the worst things to grab before hitting the streets.

Whole Grains

Grains are ordinarily considered a healthy diet option. When it comes to snacking on them before a run, they cause water retention and bloating says a 2016 Runner’s World article. Not ideal for your run.

Hummus (or other legumes)

Runner’s World advises that pre-packaged dips such as hummus contain lots of added oils. Hummus is also considered a high-mold food, which can lead to reduced oxygen consumption and inflammation, both detrimental to runners’ performance.

Energy Drinks

Perhaps you are looking for a quick jolt of energy before your run, you may want to reconsider reaching for the Red Bull. Energy drinks dangerously accelerate your heart rate, restrict blood flow, and have tons of added sugars. The University of Wisconsin Health also notes that too much caffeine, as found in many of these drinks, can cause “an upset stomach, diarrhea, and headaches”, among other things.  

Protein Bars

This one could very well be your pre-run go-to snack, but before you reach for the next one, remember that protein bars are often loaded with sugar and fat. They temporarily fill you with protein instead of the good carbohydrates needed to provide you with lasting energy. Skipping the carbs and loading up with protein can lead to a sluggish run, according to Real Buzz. Many of these bars are also high in fiber, which can cause problems later, as seen in the next food on the list.

High-Fiber Foods

Sure fiber is fantastic for your everyday diet, promoting weight loss, aiding in digestion, lowering blood sugar levels and regulating gut bacteria. However, you will find yourself experiencing gas, bloating and stomach pains when you have too much fiber ahead of a run or workout. PopSugar advises, that you do yourself a favor and avoid fiber-rich foods such as broccoli, onions or any large servings of beans before your workout.

Trail Mix

Seems like the perfect pre-run food, right? Think again! notes that trail mix takes a long time to digest and may cause gas which, as we know, is definitely no fun on a run. Save this snack for refueling after the run.

Now that you have a list of what NOT to eat, here are a few food options you can incorporate instead to make sure you have the best run as possible.

  • Bananas

  • Peanut butter sandwich

  • Berries w/cottage cheese

  • Oranges

  • Low-fat yogurt w/honey

  • Peaches

  • Handful of cashews

  • Applesauce

  • Raisins

  • Cheese and carrots

What is your favorite pre-run snack or meal? Share with us in the comments below!


Natalie Robinson

Co-founder and Chief Sponsorship Officer