As the weather gets nicer, and more New York area runners are hitting the streets, one frequent question is: “What’s the best thing to eat before I run?”

And the answer is: “it depends”. Your body needs adequate fuel from food to power your muscles and keep you energized while running. But what and how much food you eat depends on the length of your run, the timing of your previous meal or snack, and your body’s own, unique digestion.

In general, focus on easy-to-digest carbohydrates, which provide a quick source of energy. Carbohydrates break down in our digestive tract the fastest (as compared to foods rich in protein or fat) and therefore fuel your muscles and brain at the start of your run. Avoid foods high in fat or fiber, which require more time to digest, and may lead to unwanted stomach cramps while running.

Use the following ideas as a guide for what to eat before you run. But remember to listen to your body as to what feels best and most energizing.

One-hour Run:

If you’re running for up to an hour, grab a small, carbohydrate-rich snack about 30 minutes before your run. Test out the suggestions below.


–Low fat or fat free yogurt with berries

–Graham cracker squares, pretzels or animal crackers

–Low fiber cereal with skim or 1% milk

–English muffin or 2 slices of bread with jelly

More Than One-hour Run:

For runs lasting longer than an hour, your body may require more food. Pre-run snacks should contain a small to moderate amount of protein, which helps provide longer-lasting energy, and may require more time to digest. Aim to eat this snack about 1 hour before running.

–Banana with peanut butter

–Bagel with peanut butter

–Deli turkey and 1 slice of low fat cheese in a whole wheat wrap

–Steel-cut oats mixed with skim or 1% milk and topped with berries

–Low fiber cereal with skim or 1% milk and a banana