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Best Foods To Eat Before Running A 10k (Expert Tips)

We asked a select group of experts for their top nutrition tips when it comes to preparing to run a 10k

Banana and Peanut Butter
Banana and Peanut Butter (Photo: Adobe Stock)

When it comes to running the popular 10k distance, it’s no secret that the way in which you prepare for the race will affect your performance.

Good preparation for a 10k involves good nutrition – eating the right foods at the right time to ensure that you’re primed to perform at your best for the distance.

So, what are some of the key things to bear in mind when it comes to fuelling up for a 10k?

We asked a select group of nutrition and fitness experts for their take on the best foods to eat before running a 10k. We also asked them to reveal their top tips when it comes to the timing of pre-race fuelling and for any other important points to bear in mind.

Here is what they said.

Best Foods To Eat Before 10k Run

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Be Wise With Your Macronutrient Choices As The Race Approaches

Eleanor Baker, MS, RDN, LDN, Runner, Sports Dietitian and Nutritional/Dietary Advisor for Athletes through Tagalong With A Pro

When it comes to completing a 10k, every runner is looking for an awesome go-to pre workout snack that is sure to sit well and help them stay energized for miles.

A great way to think about what to eat and when is to imagine a downward slope with your run starting at the very bottom.

At the beginning of the slope, you are the furthest out time wise (say two to three hours) and can enjoy more variety in your snack choices that blend carbohydrates, protein, and fat allowing for slower digestion.

At the end of the slope, you have limited time to get a snack in (i.e. 15 minutes) and the composition of the food is focused on simple carbohydrates that are low in fiber, fat and protein so that it can be quickly utilized as fuel.

A fuelling option for two to three hours out would look much like a simple breakfast or lunch: turkey sandwich on wheat with light mayo, lettuce and tomato, oatmeal with nut butter and a handful of fresh berries, or a smoothie with a little protein powder and spoon full of chia seeds blended in.

Running Man Sun

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Forty-five to 60 minutes out you will want something smaller and more carbohydrate based: banana with peanut butter, Clif bar, or toast with light nut butter and honey.

Right before the run, you are really focused on topping off the fuel tank or fuel for quick energy in smaller amounts (30 g of carbs): 1/2 cup apple sauce, shot of honey, dry cereal like Rice Crispies or chex, sports drink or chew with water.

Make sure to always be incorporating hydration into your pre workout fuelling as well!

Do note that you do not need to eat at every interval listed. Rather, listen to your body to know how much you need.

You should be running on a moderately empty stomach – not too full, but not too empty.

Having these options on hand to help you find just the right balance is important for fuelling a great run.

Having tried and true options are essential for success in competition. You should be experimenting with and practicing your fuelling strategies way before race day.

Take good notes on what works well and what does not for yourself – everyone is a little different so it may take a few tries to find what works best for you!

Woman Running in Park

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Carbohydrates Will Be Your Main Source Of Fuel

Natalie Kravat, Registered Dietician

I recommend eating something with a moderate amount of carbohydrates (around 15 to 30 grams depending on hunger levels and energy needs) with some protein and fat, two to four hours before the race.

Carbohydrates will be the main source of fuel during the race, so you want to make sure you aren’t skipping those beforehand as doing so can cause low energy. However, overdoing it can cause bloating, gas, or discomfort during the race.

The timing of the meal or snack is dependent upon the person. Some individuals may be able to tolerate a fuller stomach and some want to feel full when they get to the starting line.

Runners should experiment with the timing of snacks and meals during their training to determine what feels best for their bodies.

Some snack suggestions include: a banana with one tablespoon of peanut butter, wholegrain toast with nut butter, a trail mix with dried fruit and nuts, or a whole-food granola bar (Larabar, RX bar, etc).

Watch out for excessive nuts or dairy prior to the race as they are known to cause some stomach upset. However, similar to timing, the person will need to experiment with which foods sit right and which do not. This really varies person to person.

Man Running

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

The Best Foods Depend On How Much Time You Have Before The 10k

Melissa Boufounos, Certified Holistic Nutritionist and Nutrition Coach

When it comes to fuelling for a 10k, the optimal substrate to focus on will be carbohydrates.

For specific foods to eat, that will depend on the person and what their preferences are, how much time they have before the 10k and what they have practiced with.

If we’re talking about what to eat before a 10k race, you never want to eat anything new on your race day.

If you have three to four hours of digestion time before the 10k, you want a meal that is about 80 per cent carbohydrates (low-fiber), 10 per cent protein and 10 per cent fat. You’ll also want to drink plenty of water. This might look like oatmeal with a banana and peanut butter.

If you only have one to two hours of digestion time before the 10k, you want to get mostly carbohydrates with little to no protein or fat. You’ll also want to drink water. This could be something easy to digest like an English muffin with some jam or an energy bar or dried fruit.

If you only have 30 to 60 minutes of digestion time, baby food pouches or apple sauce are very easy to digest, or you might opt for an energy gel. You’ll also want to drink water.

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