PRE-RUN NUTRITION As a general rule try not to exercise on an empty stomach. You will need the nutrients during your workout and to recover afterwards. You don’t need much, but it can make a big difference on how hard and long you exercise.

Before your run have a something low in fiber and low in fat to eat. If you don’t want to eat something, opt for a sports drink or smoothie containing around 200-400 calories. You don’t need much, but it can make a big difference on how hard and long you exercise.

Try to eat about two hours and avoid eating too much before exercising and try to ensure what you eat is low in fat, low in fibre, includes carbs, proteins and fluids. Also, make sure you are familiar with the food you eat and don’t try anything that you’re not sure how your body will react to. Here are some ideas of pre-workout food and drink.

“For most training sessions, your pre-workout nutrition is easy: You can either have a normal meal a few hours before you exercise, or you can have a smaller meal at least 30 minutes before you start your workout,” said Berardi.

Do whichever works best for you personally. If you opt for the "normal meal," try incorporating 1 or 2 palm-sized portions of protein, 1 or 2 fist-sized portions of veggies, 1 or 2 handfuls of carbs and 1 or 2 thumb-sized portions of fat. If you opt for the "smaller meal," try something easily digestible, like a smoothie. The biggest thing is to stick with foods that you eat regularly and know won't upset your stomach.

• Bananas – are a great source of natural, fast acting carbohydrates as well potassium. The carbs provide the glucose which fuels for your body during your exercise while the potassium helps maintain nerve and muscle functions. Have a banana around 30 minutes before you exercise to receive the benefits during your workout.

• Oats – are another natural source of natural carbohydrates that are slowly digested by the body which steadily release energy throughout your workout and keep you going for longer. Have a bowl of oats with yogurt and berries at least 30 minutes before you exercise to help keep your energy levels up and train harder.

• Wholegrains – another source of carbohydrates whole grain breads are a great base for a pre-workout meal. Try a couple of slices of wholegrain bread with honey, jam, peanut butter or eggs around 30 – 45 minutes before your workout.

• Apples and peanut butter – a light snack which is packed with carbs, protein, vitamins and minerals which is quick, tasty and will fuel you through a light – moderate intensity workout.

• Coffee – leave out the sugar and add plenty of milk and coffee can be great before exercising. Apart from hydrating you the milk provides the carbs and protein to fuel your workout while the coffee puts a spring in your step.

• Fruit smoothies – as long as you use all natural ingredients, including protein and leave out added sugar smoothies are great pre-workout. Try adding milk or yogurt for extra protein.


NUTRITION WHILE YOU’RE RUNNING Generally, you shouldn’t need to eat if your workout is under an hour. If you are exercising for longer or need to eat while on your workout try and keep it light and mainly carbs such as bananas, berries, dried fruit, nuts or an energy bar.

Once you’re running, and if you’re running for over an hour and a quarter refuel with carbohydrates to keep your energy levels up. 30-60 grams of carbs per hour, such as berries, dried fruit, a banana or an energy bar while you’re running should be enough. Start to refuel 20-30 minutes into your run and then regularly throughout.

“If you’re running for less than two hours, your main focus should be on staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water. However, if you’re going to be out on the road (or trail) longer than that, or if it’s
particularly hot and you’re sweating a lot, you need to replace some calories and electrolytes along the way,” said Berardi.

For events more than 2 hours long, sipping on a sports drink can be a huge help. Try making your own with 15g protein (1/2 scoop of protein powder) mixed with 30-45g carbs (1 scoop of sports drink powder) and 2 cups of water. Another option is to consume a gel, chews or another electrolyte-replacement product of your choice (should contain sodium, potassium, calories and carbs) every 45 minutes to an hour.


POST-RUN NUTRITION Eat a balanced meal about an hour after you run that includes protein, vegetables and carbs. How soon you eat will depend on your goals—if you’re looking to build muscle you can consider eating 15/20 minutes after your run finishes, and if you’re looking to tone up wait for around 45 minutes. Aim for something that contains 1 or 2 palm-sized portions of protein, 1 or 2 fist-sized portions of vegetables, 1 or 2 handfuls of carbs and 1 or 2 thumb-sized portions of fats, along with a low-calorie beverage, like water. If you find that you’re not hungry enough for a full meal, opt for a post-run smoothie.

“If you don’t eat anything within two hours after your run, it could slow your recovery and negatively affect your next-day performance,” said Berardi. If you don’t feel hungry, or have a hard time eating a big meal after a tough training session—don’t worry, that’s okay. See our smoothie recipe page for some great post workout smoothies for you to try.


HYDRATION Hydration is probably the single most important element in sports nutrition. Your body is 60% water and it is perhaps the most important nutrient to remember when exercising as it is essential to maintain a healthy body and very important when exercising. Water is vital for maintaining cell health, carrying nutrients throughout you body and cooling us down through sweating.

Remember to also stay hydrated before, during and after your run. Every day aim to drink half your body weight of fluids—for example if you weigh 90kg try to drink 3 litres of calorie free fluid, ideally water. You should have a couple of cups of fluid about two hours before your workout. For most workouts water will be fine, but for longer exercise sessions or if doing so in warm or humid conditions you will need to replenish lost electrolytes. Try sports drinks, or opt for natural alternatives such as coconut water.


RECIPES FOR RUNNERS Check out our DIY Sports Nutrition pages for more information, explore our balanced recipes for runners, or try our delicious Smoothie Recipes.