Today I’m sharing my top nutrition tips for runners, including how to fuel properly and recover more efficiently from those hot, sweaty runs.

The post has been developed in partnership with Florida Orange Juice however all opinions expressed are my own.

The emergence of warmer temperatures, sunny skies and greener outdoors is often met with more excitement and motivation to get outside and exercise. It might encourage you to start running more and maybe even train for a race.

Nutrition tips for runners, including how to fuel properly and recover more efficiently from those tough, sweaty runs.

As the temperature outdoors heats up and your runs become more frequent and/or longer in duration, there are some important nutrition tips for runners to keep mind. That is, if you want to fuel for and recover from running optimally.

This is where I come in. Today I’m sharing with you a handful of nutrition tips for runners to help you fuel properly and recover more efficiently from your runs. This will in include both what you should be eating and drinking before and after your runs.

Before we do that, it’s important to understand how nutrition can impact your running performance.

Impact of Nutrition on Running Performance:

There are a lot of ways that what you eat and drink can affect your running. Have you ever eaten something prior to a run only to not feel so great a few kilometres in? Have you ever gone for an early morning run without eating anything and felt sluggish or slower than usual? These things are a result of improper fueling.

When we exercise, we’re burning energy (calories) and primarily carbohydrates which are our muscles preferred fuel. If we don’t have enough fuel in the tank, especially in the form of glucose in the bloodstream and stored glucose (something called glycogen) in the muscles, it will feel arder to run as fast or as long.

Running is also a form of stress on the body. While some exercise stress is good for the body, we want to make certain processes – like digestion – easier on the body while we run so it can focus on delivering energy and oxygen things like your muscles and your lungs. Then after our run, we want to help our bodies recover optimally so stronger faster and help prevent injury. This is why it’s important to focus on certain nutrients before and after a run.

Finally, when we run, we sweat. In our sweat, we’re losing fluids and electrolytes. In order to replenish those fluids and electrolytes and carry on with our days well-hydrated, it’s important to hydrate properly too.

A dietitian's top nutrition tips for runners, including how to fuel properly and recover more efficiently from those tough, sweaty runs.

Things to Consider Pre-Run:

If you’re having a snack before your run, you want to focus on easy-digesting foods. Things like lower-fibre carbohydrates and maybe just a little bit of protein. Avoid having a high-fat, high-fibre or high-protein meal or snack pre-run, because these things digest slow. We want a quick boost of energy before leaving the house, and we also don’t want our bodies to be in the middle of digesting our food while we’re running as this can cause cramping. Keep your pre-run snacks small and low in fibre, fat and protein.

Pre-Run Snack Examples:

30-60 minutes before your run, have:

1/2 – 1 medium piece of fruit

1 handful of pretzels or low-fibre crackers

1 individual yogurt cup

This to Consider Post-Run:

As I mentioned, after a run proper nutrition will help you recover and encourage your body to adapt to your training. Eating the right things can help you build on your progress and get stronger and faster. In order to recover properly, you need carbohydrates once again to restore the glycogen (sugar stores) in your muscles. You will also need protein in order to repair the muscle tissue and build more – helping you feel stronger! Finally, you need fluids and electrolytes to replace sweat losses – especially if it’s hot/humid outside.

Post-Run Snack Examples:

Smoothie with Greek yogurt, banana, and Florida Orange Juice or water. Potassium is one of the electrolytes we lose through sweat. 100% orange juice is a good source of potassium, so it can help us to both rehydrate and replenish potassium lost. 

Toast with eggs or 2 tbsp peanut butter and water to drink. The oats will provide carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores, while eggs/peanut butter give us protein to repair our muscles.

Whole grain cereal with dairy/soy milk.

For more pre and post-workout snack ideas, check out this post.

Should You Have a Sports Drink?

This is a great question that I receive often. In general, if you’re getting out there few days a week and the weather isn’t too hot or humid, you likely don’t need to have a sports drink after a run. This is because it’s likely you have plenty of opportunity to replenish your fluids/electrolytes via meals and other fluids like water before your next run or workout.

If you’re training heavily (daily or multiple daily intense workouts) for a race in hot, humid weather, you may want to consider a sports drink in order to help your body replenish fluid and electrolytes more efficiently, so your body is ready for your next run.

Don’t want to buy sports drinks at the store? Make your own at home!

A dietitian's homemade sports drink recipe!

How to Make Your Own Sports Drink at Home:

You can make a more natural electrolyte/sports drink at home by mixing:

1 cup (240 mL) water

1/2 cup (240 mL) Florida Orange Juice

pinch of sea salt

1 tsp (5 mL) honey (optional)

The sea salt will help you replenish sodium (electrolyte lost in sweat), while the 100% orange juice provides a good source of potassium (another electrolyte), carbohydrates from the naturally occurring sugar in oranges, and fluids for hydration.

Before your run, mix all ingredients in a glass and place in the fridge. When you return from your run, enjoy a natural, refreshing sports drink to replenish your body!

I hope you found these nutrition tips for runners helpful, be sure to leave a comment and let me know what you think!

The post has been developed in partnership with Florida Orange Juice, however all opinions expressed are my own.