What to Eat Before, During, and After Your Run

For the life of me, I can’t remember who said it. But it’s a damn good point:

Everybody is vegan while they’re running.

Okay, so it’s not universally true — some gummies contain gelatin, which comes from bones. And if you name just about any food in the world, I can assure you there’s an ultrarunner somewhere who considers it his or her secret weapon during the really tough miles.

But those few exceptions aside, it’s a great point: To be a vegetarian or vegan runner, you don’t have to change much about what you eat while you run. And it also happens to be a pretty compelling argument for a vegetarian lifestyle.

Think about it. When we run, we naturally choose nutrient-dense foods that provide a ton of energy and are easy to digest, also called high net-gain foods. Not only does an upset stomach ruin a race, but the less energy you expend digesting what you eat, the more you’ll have later on. Come to think of it, wouldn’t it be nice to have that extra energy when you’re not running, too?

So is it okay to keep on guzzling Gatorade and sucking down energy gels?

Well, yes and no. Sure, you can do that without losing your “v-card.” But just because the processed stuff we eat and drink while we run is vegetarian, doesn’t mean it’s natural, or for that matter, that it’s the best thing you can do for your body and performance.

With this in mind, I wrote a series of three posts that are among the most useful on this entire site. Each contains a set of guidelines for fueling your body around your workout: Before, During, and After. Read them; I promise they’re worth it.

You might also want to check out the Running Fuel page, where you’ll find these posts and several recipes for energy bars, drinks, and gels that follow most of these guidelines.

You’ll probably find that fueling naturally isn’t quite as convenient as picking up some Gatorade at 7-11 on the way to the trail, track, or wherever you run. But do just a little planning and spend a few minutes preparing what you’re going to eat and drink on your run, and your body will love you for it.

What if you don’t want to make your food?

Wait a minute, we talked about this before, didn’t we? Remember, you were going to start cooking? Well, okay, as long as you’re making the rest of your food, I can let it slide if you don’t feel like making your running fuel.

In that case, the brand I’d recommend is Vega. The company was started by vegan pro triathlete Brendan Brazier, author of Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life. They make lots of smoothies, bars, and other products with incredible ingredient lists. The downside, of course, is that they’re expensive, so making your own stuff is probably cheaper.

The one Vega product I use regularly and rave about to anyone who asks is Vega Sport Performance Optimizer, their pre- and during-workout sports drink.  I’m a Vega affiliate, but I’m not here to try to sell you on their products. I’d rather you use the posts I mentioned above to make your own stuff!

Alrighty, that’s about it for today. As always, feel free to get in touch and let me know if I can help with anything at all. Happy fueling, and I hope to hear from you soon!


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