In this blog post, I reveal the best breakfasts for increased stamina and energy before a long run
Breakfast…the most important meal of the day! Toast and jam may get you through a morning in the office but it won’t through a long run in the hills. Having a good pre-run breakfast is vital to ensure glycogen stores are fully restored after a night’s sleep and have you bursting with energy to hit the trails.
What are the key components of a healthy pre-run breakfast?
Everyone has different tolerance levels regarding eating around running, so, first up, you should stick to foods you are accustomed to and make you feel comfortable. The general rule of thumb for a small meal (400-500kcals) is leave 2-3 hours between eating and running. This gives ample time for digestion and allows for maximum top ups of glycogen levels. If you can’t tolerate big meals pre-run, split them into two smaller snacks 4 and 2 hours before. The main focus is energy from carbohydrate. This is supported by evidence that exercise performance is enhanced following a high carb meal vs a low carb. Carbs are your bodies preferred energy source. It should also be low in fat and moderate in fibre as this will make digestion quicker and less risk of stomach upset. If you have a stomach of steel you may have more options!
What about the carbs/protein ratio?
Carbohydrate is vital before, during and after exercise for optimal running performance but recent studies have suggested that also eating protein before prolonged exercise may kick start muscle repair before the session is finished. So, ensuring breakfast is carbohydrate dominant with a serving of protein (15-20g) will ensure you are fuelled to perform.
Which foods are great?
Foods such as bagels, porridge oats, peanut butter, dried fruit, yogurt or milk are foods that form a good basis to a breakfast providing good levels of carbohydrate and protein. Liquid breakfasts such as smoothies or energy drinks not only provide good levels of carbohydrate but hydrate as well. Easily digested, they are perfectly suited for those that can’t tolerate much before a run. Although low glycemic index foods have been suggested to be favorable due to their slower release of energy and smaller insulin response, research is still unable to show that eating low GI foods before exercise has any universal benefit on performance. They do however, tend to be higher in fibre, so those prone to runner’s tummy on the trails may want to avoid them.
What about water?
Regular ingestion of fluid is essential for performance and this should start when we wake. How much we need depends on our weight, training load, environment and individual sweat rate. Despite these factors, most of us are dehydrated after sleeping, therefore, try to have 250-500mls of water just as you get up with help re-hydrate. If your urine is not clear before you run, you may need more next time.
What’s the worst breakfast you could have pre-long run?
If you are prone to runner’s tummy, avoid foods particularly high in fat and fibre pre-run as they take longer to digest and can cause stomach upset. As said, everyone has different tolerance levels some are lucky enough to eat anything they fancy and hit the trails trouble free.