Proper fulling prior to running can make or break your run. Pre-run snack staples like bananas can leave you wanting more, but full meals close to working out can lead to stomach problems during your run. Consuming snacks that are smaller versions of full entrees can satisfy you and not overload you for your run. Recently in a Runner’s World article, sports dietitian for the San Francisco Marathon and Berkeley Half Marathon, Sarah Koszyk, highlighted six pre-run snacks that will provide the nutrients your body needs for your run while leaving you feeling great for your run.
Salted Rice Cake with Almond Butter and Toasted Coconut Flakes
Rice cakes have a bad rap as a bland diet food, but that very quality makes them an excellent base for a light meal. They’re lower in fiber than multigrain bread, so they won’t upset your stomach, helping to make this crunchy riff on PB&J a good choice when your workout is an hour or less away. The dash of salt helps you retain fluids while running, and the coconut flakes (larger than the shredded version) add mouth-pleasing crunch and more intense flavor.
Make it: Top 1 salted rice cake with 1 tablespoon of almond butter and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of toasted unsweetened coconut flakes.
Less than an hour: Use half the almond butter.
Sweet Potato with Freshly Grated Parmesan
Sweet potatoes are an easily digestible carb and a great source of fiber, which helps you feel fuller than you would after eating the same amount of, say, white rice, says Koszyk. If you suffer from GI issues, you can shave a gram of fiber by tossing the potato skin. Even without the skins, these spuds are nutritional workhorses, boasting vitamins A, C, and B6 and almost as much potassium per cup as a banana. Potassium is an electrolyte that helps stave off fatigue and muscle cramps during a run.
Make it: Top half of a small baked sweet potato with 1/3 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh chives, oregano, thyme, or a mix of these herbs.
Less than an hour: Use a quarter potato and half the cheese.
90 Minutes Out
Open-Faced Smoked Turkey Sandwich
Koszyk views this streamlined lunch staple as a go-to choice for avoiding a midmorning prerun pastry or a midday cookie. Here, flavorful smoked turkey and mashed avocado eliminate the need for less nutritious, high-calorie condiments like mayo or aioli. The avocado also contains potassium, which aids muscle function. If you can’t find smoked turkey, opt for fresh roasted turkey or chicken instead of fattier lunchmeats like salami or bologna.
Make it: Top one slice of whole-wheat toast with 1/8 mashed avocado (or 2 tablespoons), a grind or two of black pepper, 2 slices of tomato, and 1 slice smoked turkey.
60 minutes out: Use white or sourdough bread; skip the avocado and tomato; use 1/2 teaspoon spicy mustard.
Buckwheat Soba Noodles with Chicken
Buckwheat soba noodles are slightly higher in carbs than pasta but with a nutty, earthy flavor. And if the noodles are made with 100 percent buckwheat flour, they’re also gluten-free. The sesame seedsprovide seven percent of the recommended Daily Value of iron per one-tablespoon serving, a hard-to-get nutrient that can leave runners fatigued if their levels become too low.
Make it: Toss 1/2 cup cooked 100 percent buckwheat soba noodles with 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon orange juice. Top with 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds and 2 ounces (the size of half a deck of cards) roasted or grilled chicken.
60 minutes out: Make a half recipe.
Half Bagel with Fig Jam and Cheddar
The calorie count of this sweet and savory sandwich does surpass Koszyk’s recommended range. But its quick-digesting carbs make this mini meal an ideal choice before tough workouts. “The 37 grams of carbs give you a boost for a longer or more intense run when you’ll be burning more calories,” says Koszyk. The sugar in the jam tops off glycogen stores, which are the body’s primary source of running fuel, and the splash of acidic balsamic vinegar adds a layer of flavor without piling on calories, making this an especially satisfying snack for its size.
Make it: Choose an easier-to-digest plain bagel instead of whole wheat. Sprinkle half of a toasted bagel with 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar. Top with 1 teaspoon fig jam and 1 ounce cheddar (a flat slice the size of a typical American cheese slice).
60 minutes out: Use a quarter bagel with half-slice cheese; same amount of jam.
TWO HOURS OUT
Scrambled Egg and Avocado over Brown Rice
If you’ll be having brunch with friends but are committed to a 9 a.m. run, this scaled-down egg dish will hold you over. Brown rice packs the same amount of carbs as white, but rather than the energy spike and drop typical of processed carbs, whole-grain carbs provide slow-burning energy. The fiber, coupled with egg protein, will also keep you satiated. Avocado adds good-for-you fat, plus B6 , which aids production of disease-fighting antibodies.
Make it: Drizzle 1/2 teaspoon of sherry vinegar over 1/2 cup of cooked brown rice. Top with 1 large scrambled egg and one-eighth (or 2 tablespoons) of an avocado, sliced. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and a grind of black pepper.
60 minutes out: Use 1/4 cup white rice; omit avocado.
Regardless of the snack you create it should incorporate carbohydrates for energy, with some fiber, protein, and fat for fullness, and electrolytes to help balance fluid levels. Snacks should have between 150-250 calories.