Nutrition for Runners

By Theresa Cummings

Running for beginners - Top Nutrition and hydration tips by experts

Daily Needs

Every runner should consume 60-70% of their daily calories as carbohydrates, 20-30% as fat, and 10-15% as proteins.

Great sources of carbohydrates are: grains, bread, and pasta; great sources of fats are: avocados, oils, and nuts; great sources of proteins are lean meats, chicken, low-fat dairy products, beans, and fish.

What if I'm Gluten-Free?

Gluten-free pasta and corn tortillas provide key vitamins and minerals for those who cannot handle gluten.

Other gluten-free, high-carb snacks: Trail mix with almonds, raisins, and gluten-free pretzels; plain popcorn with sea salt and garlic powder; a mango smoothie with Greek yogurt, almond milk and mint leaves; and a gluten-free English muffin with almond butter and honey.

What Foods are Good to Eat to Enhance My Preformance?

Dark chocolate can boost your performance because it indirectly increases the amount of nitric oxide that is available which improves the oxygen delivery to muscles by enhancing blood flow.

Be sure to eat an easy-to-digest, carb-based morning meal such as a plain bagel with peanut butter and a banana or toast with jam.

Make sure you don't eat too close to running because it can cause cramping, heartburn and/or bathroom pit stops.


Keep drinking throughout the day, but be careful you don't drink too much because it will cause sloshing in your stomach, or drinking too little water because it can cause Hyponatremia (loss of sodium)

Race Day

Don't experiment the night before; eat what you normally do and avoid fatty foods the morning of your race.

5K racers will typically burn 150-200 calories; marathon runners will typically burn 500 calories or more; everyone running 10 miles or more will need a fist sized snack( banana or energy bar) while running.

You will need to refuel with a snack about 30 minutes after your race.

Hold the Beer!

Alcohol drinkers have bad balance, slow reaction times, and increased urine production so alcohol won't do you any good before or after you run.

Iron!! Iron!! Iron!!

Not consuming enough iron can and will cause fatigue and impaired breathing.

Men should aim to consume 8 mg of iron while women should aim to consume 18 mg of iron daily.

Fun Fact

Eating eggs in the morning will leave you fuller and help you consume fewer calories the rest of the day.