Breakfast plays a massive part in a runner’s life, especially runners that are doing endurance events.
I’m going to break this article down into really pre-run and pre-race, fueling and breakfasts that you can look at for those runs that you’re going to be doing.
General breakfasts will be a great start to your day that you’re going to more than likely help you be fueled for any training sessions you might do at any point in the day, but I think it’s important to separate the two.
Because most early morning training runs or races predominantly are earlier in the day, you need to get your breakfast right for those types of runs. If not, you might suffer some intestinal distress, particularly on longer endurance runs.
However, if you’re looking at breakfast to best set yourself up for the coming day and perhaps training sessions you may be doing later in the day, you can probably eat much more breakfast.
So there’s a definite difference between the types of fueling you’re going to focus on, depending on when you are actually running, either early in the morning or later in the day.
What You Want From A Pre-Run Breakfast.
The best type of breakfast for a runner is going to be predominantly carbohydrate-based.
The reason for this is it builds up your glycogen reserves. When you are going to go out for particularly long runs, what you actually eat will come down to how you digest food, know how quickly you digest and find out what works for you personally.
I’m going to outline some ideas in this article, but a lot of it will come down to testing because, for everything that works for one person, you will sometimes find somebody else who will struggle with that particular food.
So what I will say is always test these breakfast ideas or pre fuelling ideas in a training scenario. So you can find out what works for you.
The timings and the types of foods that work best for you. As a runner, and the types of events that you are running in.
Pre Training Or Pre Race Runners Breakfast.
Is It Best To Run On An Empty Stomach In The Morning?
Something I get asked a lot is, should you run fasted. In the morning?
And I think if you do a Google search on this. The resounding answer will be totally inconclusive. You’ve got people that feel running fasted is really beneficial. It helps you fat burn it controls glycogen spikes.
And then other people will find that they run low on energy.
I think the rather unhelpful answer is, you’ve got to test this; I’ve ran fasted, many times. What I have found, as I’ve got older, you know, I’m now 57 I find this works less and less well for me as I’ve got older.
It’s something to test and see how it works. Personally, my tip would be that the evidence is inconclusive, for running fasted, and in many people’s cases, they’re going to find that the benefits are not there probably.
I think the main things we’re going to discuss in his article are that it’s all about thinking of your breakfast as spread out over time. The evening before is an opportunity to fuel pre-run is an opportunity to fuel while running is an opportunity to fuel. A post-run is an opportunity to fuel and recover.
So you can almost think of breakfast as a four-stage effort, and obviously, you can’t do this if you run fasted.
So I would say that this is something that you really want to do only if you’re really sure. And probably, If your fitness levels mean that you can probably attempt it in the first place.
What To Eat For Breakfast Before A Race?
Do you eat just before breakfast before a race? My tip here is that everything comes down to timing and experimentation.
So what I mean by this is that you should have rehearsed what you eat and pre-race in your training sessions, so you have found out what works for you, and your body and you are climatized to those foods.
Also, the timing is critical. I recently ran a half marathon; the race started at 9.30 am. That meant that I was up by six in the morning and made sure I had my breakfast by 6:30 am.
This gave a three-hour window where I knew that my breakfast would be digested and not laying too heavy on me while I ran.
I also took a couple of bananas to the race. So if I wanted, say, a light snack, about an hour and a half before the run. I could top up with something easily digestible, like a banana.
But all these things will really come down to your own personal digestion, what you can tolerate, and your general likes and dislikes, and this really does come down to rehearsing what you eat or don’t eat, And when you eat in your training runs.
Is Peanut Butter and Bananas Good For Runners?
I’m a massive fan of bananas. They have a really high carbohydrate content, so they’re a brilliant energy boost for you.
I personally find them really easy to digest, and they’ve got a lot of potassium, about 400 mg. Potassium important because it can really assist you in reducing the risk of things like cramps, particularly if the weather is hot and sweating a lot.
So let’s look at peanut butter now. Now, I must stress. We are talking a good quality peanut butter without too many additives like sugar in it.
The first thing to be aware of that peanut butter has a lot of fat in it.
Now, this is not to be alarmist because it mainly consists of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. These can help lower your blood’s cholesterol levels and help strengthen your immune system to be very positive outcomes.
However, you’ve got to be aware that for some people, fat, pre-run can be quite difficult for them to digest, so if you’re going to take something like peanut butter pre-run. You want to make sure that you eat it quite early, a couple of hours before running.
I tend to use peanut butter, more post-run. I find the combination of fats and the fact that peanut butter has protein in it. A much better post-breakfast than a pre-run breakfast, but that is really just a personal opinion. And what I found useful for myself.
Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich.
A great post-workout breakfast for me is a peanut butter and banana sandwich.
You know what, for me, it doesn’t get much better than that because I absolutely love bananas and peanut butter. It’s high calorie, it’s got a good combination of peanut butter, which has the protein and fat, and the bananas carbohydrate content.
As I say, I must stress. This is something I would eat post-run. If I were to eat it pre-run, I would make sure I was eating this a good couple of hours before running because it’s quite an intense and heavy breakfast, or it would be for me at least.
Peanut Butter Cups
A little while ago, I experimented with peanut butter sachets of either peanut butter or cashew nut butter. They were made by a company called Pip& Nut; I’m sure other companies make them.
As writing this, I can’t find them anymore. I’m assuming Pip & Nut stopped making them. They have started selling their vegan nut butter cup bundle packs, either almond butter or peanut butter coated in dark chocolate.
So you get a lovely combination of protein and fat; within the peanut butter and dark chocolate’s anti-inflammatory properties, dark chocolate tends to give you a slight lift from the caffeine in dark chocolate too.
So, This is something else I’m going to test myself, pre-run or post-run.
Are Bagels Good For Runners.?
The Pros Of Bagels.
So are bagels good for runners? Well, you really got to look at it from a couple of perspectives. The pros of bagels are that they are, they don’t upset my stomach. There’s a density to them that I really like. So they very easily digest.
I tend to find that I use them more post-run personally. Still, I think that their real pluses are that you have a kind of mix of carbohydrate, and some protein, depending on which brand you buy, so you might be worth checking on each brand to see the levels of carbohydrate versus protein, but they are just straightforward to eat and digest.
The Cons Of Bagels
The cons are their pretty high calorific value. So, for me, that’s not an issue. But if you’re trying to lose weight, you may have to be aware that something like a bagel is usually quite a high calorie and may not assist you if you’re trying actually to lose weight.
And I think. Finally, You have to look at it that they’re not healthy food. They are a manufactured product. It’s not something that you probably want not to eat all the time. But I think as a pre-run breakfast or post-run breakfast. I think for many, they are a great go-to for most runners.
Coffee. Is It A Good Runners Breakfast Supplement?
Okay, so the coffee doesn’t really breakfast, but it’s something that I’ve supplemented into some of my breakfasts, pre-run, and definitely post-run.
I find the boost that caffeine gives you is well worth drinking, particularly post-run and pre-run. It gives you a higher intensity in your training; the caveat, obviously, is you have to test this yet again; people have certain levels of tolerance to coffee. And it does make some people very jittery, and that’s something you’d want to avoid if you are running.
Also, I wouldn’t advise if you drink coffee with milk or sugar, particularly drinking coffee pre-run. If you’re going to drink coffee pre-run, then drink it black.
And if you can’t drink it black. I generally wouldn’t drink it at all—pre rum.
A lot of people mentioned the fact that coffee dehydrates you. This isn’t actually true at all. It’s purely the fact that, like most liquids, it has the opposite effect; if you drink enough of any liquid, you will feel the need to urinate, but that is the same with water, or pretty much any other liquid that your body thinks is surplus to requirements.
What To Eat To Run Longer.
The Four Breakfasts Theory
I want to share what I call my full breakfasts theory for when you will run longer, be it a race or a training run. We tend to break meals up into either breakfast, dinner, or evening meals. But if you think about it, like fueling, in effect, you have 4 breakfasts.
1.Night Before Running.
Let me explain—the night before a run. You’re going to eat something that is going to reinforce and build up your carbohydrate stores. Now you may call that an evening meal, which is fine, but in effect, it’s your evening breakfast, you’re thinking about what you’re going to eat, pre-run and considering that after that meal, you’re going to sleep. That meal is crucial so make sure that you’re already thinking about that meal a week or so before so that you know what you’re going to eat, that evening, eat something that you know works for you, because you’ve eaten it in training, and don’t deviate on trying some new spicy food, the night before a key training run, or race.
2.Light Fueling Pre Run Or Race.
Then you a couple of hours before the training run or race. You are going to either have breakfast or light fueling now. What I mean by this is, if this is a race, and you’re up two or three hours before you are racing, then you can afford yourself to have a good breakfast—some of the things I’ve mentioned previously in this article.
However, if you get an up for training run, it’s less likely that you want to get up an hour, two hours, three hours before you go out on a long run. I tend to do what I call light fueling, so I will have a bowl of Rice Krispies to help build up a little top up my carbohydrate stores. Because of the way Rice Krispies are made, they’re extraordinarily light, so it means that I can eat them 10 minutes before I go out on a training run, and I don’t feel weighed down by them at all.
3.Fueling While Running.
Then while you’re running, you could have another breakfast in effect. So, for example, if it’s 14 plus miles, you may be utilising some gels. I’m a great fan of eating dates. Just break them up, and they’re straightforward to digest, and the sugars in dates are slow-release, so you don’t tend to get high spikes in your sugar levels.
I’ve also outlined some of the gels and drinks I use in my FREE e-book below.
And then, when you finish your run, you have your post-recovery breakfast. You can use this to do exactly what it says within the first hour after finishing a run over race. Getting in extra protein and carbohydrates, and fats will help you recover more quickly and reduce inflammation.
If you want to know why it’s important to reduce inflammation in the body as a runner read this article –Anti Inflammatory Vegan Diet. Is It True?
So you can see that if you think about it like four breakfasts. Actually, the night before, light fuelling pre-run or race breakfast, fueling while you’re running, and post-recovery.
Then you will spread the food out in a way that keeps your body topped up while you run and post-run.