Health & Wellness

What should you eat before, during, after a run? Here's what you need to know

One of the keys to a good run is found in what you eat before and during a long workout. Figuring out what exactly to munch on, however, can be confusing. As part of the Run for TODAY series, nutrition and running experts are breaking down what you need to know about eating and running.

Before your run

It’s important to eat a light snack about an hour before you run that’s rich in carbohydrates and has a little protein. Joy Bauer, TODAY’s nutrition and health editor, recommends any of the following:

  • A banana and string cheese
  • An orange and a small handful of almonds
  • A granola bar
  • A cup of whole grain cereal with a little bit of skim milk

During your run

When you're running for an extended period of time, it's important to refuel as you go and fortunately there are plenty of products on the market designed to give athletes a burst of energy. If you're stressed over which gels, chews, goos and blocks to eat while you run, running coach John Honerkamp has some advice: It doesn't really matter.

"It's just what works best for you," he said. "There's no right or wrong." He recommends trying a few different types of energy products as you train for a long race so that on race day, you know exactly what works best for you.

After your run

When you finish a long run, Joy recommends eating some sort of carbohydrate and a little protein within an hour as these will help with your muscle recovery and energy levels. This type of snack could be:

  • A sports drink
  • A nutrition bar
  • An apple with a little bit of peanut butter

"You don't want to over-stuff yourself," she said. "And definitely hydrate."

This story was originally published on March 21 at 8:25 a.m.

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