Nutrition • 05.03.2017 • Julia Denner

7 Foods You Should Avoid Before Running

Most runners are aware of the importance of building up your glycogen stores before a long run. This gets your body prepped and ready for the intense workout.

But what you may not know is that you need to be careful when choosing a pre-workout snack: the wrong choice can lead to stomach problems and hurt your performance. Therefore, it is a good idea to avoid these seven foods before your run.

1. Legumes
Legumes, like beans or lentils, are an ideal source of fiber for runners. However, eating high-fiber foods before a run can lead to gastrointestinal distress or diarrhea during your workout.

Different kinds of legumes on a table.

2. White sugar
Carbohydrates are a good idea when you want to get ready for a long run. But, sugary foods like sweets or colorful breakfast cereals are not. These are full of empty calories which can hamper your performance. Your blood sugar first spikes and then falls rapidly. This condition, known as hypoglycemia, can lead to fatigue, headaches and performance loss. Before your next run, try eating a bowl of oatmeal or quinoa instead.

A bowl with sweets.

3. Fatty foods
Although fat as a macronutrient is an essential part of a balanced diet, fatty foods before a workout are a no-go. Fat sits in your stomach and takes longer to digest, which can really make you feel uncomfortable during a run. This is especially true for foods high in saturated fats (like cheese, bacon, burgers, etc.).

Shot of two young women eating at an outdoor festival

4. Protein bars
The food industry tries to promote the health benefits of every fitness bar. But, the reality is that many protein bars are full of refined sugar. Make your own pre-workout snack instead. That way you know what is in it. Homemade granola bars are a great way of building up your glycogen stores before a big run.

5. Lactose
Not all runners can handle a glass of milk or a bowl of yogurt before a workout. The reason is the lactose in dairy products, which many people have problems digesting.

Serving fresh milk in a glass vase on a wooden table

6. Spicy foods
As tasty as a bowl of curry or chili is, spicy foods are a bad idea before running. While it is true that they are good for boosting your metabolism, they can also cause heartburn or gastrointestinal distress. Not a pretty thought when you are planning a long run, is it?

Spicy chillis on a table.

7. Sports drinks
Sports drinks often seem healthy, but they are usually full of sugar. The best thing before, during and after a run is plain water. Isotonic drinks aren’t necessary unless you’re planning to run for more than an hour. And then you should just make your sports drink yourself.

What foods do you avoid before running? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.

You want to learn what to eat before running? Find out more about the best foods to boost your running performance.


Julia Denner

Julia is a dietitian and creative cook. She is passionate about traveling the world, exercising (outdoors) and trying out new restaurants and food. She is convinced that a varied diet and regular, hard training are the keys to success.

View all posts by Julia Denner »

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  • Runtastic Team

    Hey there 😉 We added another sentence, it should be clear now 😉

    Thanks for your comment!

  • Runtastic Team

    Dear Simeon, sure you can use buckwheat instead of quinoa if you tolerate it 😉 Stay active!

  • Runtastic Team

    Dear Dennis, it’s true that legumes, if eaten before running, can sit heavy in your stomach. Nevertheless, they are a food group that should definitely be a regular part of your meal plan (just not before a run). Beans, lentils and other legumes are high in fiber and provide you with plenty of vegetable protein.

  • Runtastic Team

    Dear Vadim, that’s okay, as long as your drink doesn’t contain a massive amount of sugar.

    Your Runtastic Team