13 Tips for Fuel and Hydration While Running, According to Experts

Whether you’re just starting out or have been running for years, you’ve probably encountered discomfort during or after a run because you didn’t hydrate or fuel adequately. Having a firm run on how to keep yourself hydrated and fed while running is crucial for a satisfying outing.

Lisa Landrum, a USATF and NFSA certified running coach with Forward Motion CLT and head coach for the Around the Crown 10K, says, “You will notice a tremendous difference in the way you feel if you are properly nourished and hydrated.”

You can feel great or terrible, depending on how well you hydrate and what you eat before, during, and after a run. Find out what you should be doing before, during, and after a run to make sure your body stays properly hydrated and fed.

If you’re thirsty, get a drink.

Staying hydrated relies on getting enough water into your system. Some adhere to the body that you should only drink when you feel thirsty. It’s straightforward to satisfy your thirst when you drink. You also make sure to consume enough of water before and throughout any strenuous activity. 1

For me, that means drinking 4 to 8 ounces of water an hour before a run and another 4 to 8 ounces for every hour or so of running, in addition to being hydrated throughout the day, as recommended by Road Runners Club of America’s director of coaching education Randy Accetta, PhD.

Do Not Forget to Hydrate Before Hand

It’s crucial to maintain a hydrated fluid intake while exercising, especially running. However, running your body has enough fluids before heading out for a run is as crucial. Between 32% and 56% of athletes may be dehydrated before a workout, according to studies. 23

The night before, begin rehydrating your body. Drink at least 500 milliliters of water or a sports drink the night before. Your body needs another 500 milliliters of fluid when you wake up, so have another water or sports drink. Then, another 400–600 milliliters of water or sports drink should be had 20–30 minutes before you begin exercising. 4

“Prehydration prior to activity is extremely important for preventing dehydration, regulating body temperature, lubricating joints, carrying nutrients and oxygen to cells, and keeping our organs properly functioning,” says Stephanie Hnatiuk, a performance dietitian, personal trainer, running coach, and owner of Stephanie Hnatiuk Performance Nutrition.

She further explains that this idea is crucial for runs with a greater time commitment. While running, your body will lose more water through sweat than you can replace with fluids.

Bringing Water

It’s smart to bring a bottle of water with you on your run, and doing so will serve as a helpful reminder to stop every so often and drink some. Hnatiuk claims that taking little sips frequently while running is superior to gulping down huge quantities. This will help you stay hydrated and has the added benefit of being easy on your digestive system.

A licensed dietitian nutritionist and board-certified clinical nutritionist specializing in endurance sports nutrition and primarily running, Rebecca Fallihee, LDN, CNS recommends carrying 12 to 16 ounces of water for runs that last 60 to 90 minutes, and adding potential fuel or hydration that contains some electrolytes (mainly salt), and a little carbohydrates for runs that last longer than 90 minutes.

Consume Liquor at Regular Intervals

It’s easy to neglect water intake while you’re preoccupied on running up with your pace. There are methods to prevent you from neglecting your water consumption.

Electrolytes and carbohydrates should be added to a run of more than 60 to 90 minutes in order to run hydration. For instance, every 10–15 minutes throughout your run, drink a 6%–8% carbohydrate–electrolyte mix (6–12 fluid ounces). You should take in 300–600mg of sodium, or 1.7–2.9g of salt, per hour. 4

Landrum recommends that you “set a timer to ensure you are drinking every 15 minutes,” or that you “use your mileage as a prompt” and “take a sip” after every mile.

Those who planned out how they would drink more hydration were more likely to really do so, according to one study. They also drank more than others who didn’t make a strategy. 5

Drink Lots of Water Before Your Run and Throughout the Day One of the most important things you can do to make sure you keep hydrated when running is to drink plenty of water throughout the day.

According to Fallihee, “one of the best strategies to stay hydrated during a run is to be hydrated in the days and hours preceding up to the run. Less strain on the body means higher productivity.

Hydration needs vary from person to person, as do most other aspects of health and wellness. Think about getting tested to get a more precise sense of how much water is beneficial for you if you are unsure.

An athlete can determine how much fluid they are losing, how much they are hydrating during the run, and how much hydration they should do after the run by conducting a sweat test on training runs of varying durations, intensities, and weather conditions, as suggested by Fallihee.

Use Sodium and Electrolyte-Rich Drinks

Staying hydrated can be achieved by consuming water and electrolyte-containing drinks.

Kimberly Gomer, MS,RD,LD/N, a registered dietitian and director of nutrition, says, “One of the most critical things is to make sure the runner is hydrated and has appropriate electrolytes both before, during, and after a run.”

This is because fluids and electrolytes are lost when a person sweats, and so need to be replaced. She warns that runners can experience cramping, nausea, dizziness, and weariness if they aren’t properly hydrated or if they’re hydrating but not replacing electrolytes (the sodium, potassium, and magnesium lost through perspiration).

Extra electrolyte consumption may also be necessitated by factors such as weather and total distance covered during a run. Accetta recommends electrolyte and sodium-fortified hydration liquids for runs over 90 minutes, especially on hotter and more humid days.

Pace Your Meals

It’s essential to identify methods of hydration, but it’s also crucial to maintain adequate fuel intake.

Landrum says, “Don’t wait until you’re hungry to start thinking about food. “A decent strategy is to eat every 30 minutes; every 100 calories, choose either a simple carbohydrate or an energy source that works for you.”

How much food and drink you need to ingest to keep your body fueled depends on how far you plan to run. For runs under 2 hours in length, for instance, Fallihee recommends taking in 30 grams of carbohydrate every hour. Recover faster from runs longer than two hours by running 60–90 grams of carbohydrates every hour.

Learning How to Properly Fuel Your Body

The human body takes several forms since it is unique to each individual. What kinds of meals are best for you to eat can be determined by your training regimen.

Whether an athlete is more suited and efficient at utilising fat or carbohydrates depends on their training, according to Fallihee.

What foods help an individual run longer will be different for each runner. An athlete’s diet before, during, and after a run will also play a role, she says.

Determine Your Meal Size According to Your Activity Level

How your body reacts to food and what you should consume are both affected by the intensity of your workout or run. Determine whether you should prioritize carbohydrates or fat by tracking your run’s duration and intensity.

“Simple carbs become the predominant source of energy in the body when running intensity increases,” Fallihee says. Consuming a meal with 2–3 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight in the 3–4 hours previously is recommended for long or high intensity activities.

It is recommended that athletes who exercise for 2–3 hours daily, 5–6 days per week ingest 5–8 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight per day, or 250–1,000 grams of carbohydrates per day for a 50–150 pound athlete. If you exercise for 3–6 hours per day, 5–6 times per week, your carbohydrate intake should increase to 8–10 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. 4

She says that fat is the body’s primary fuel source during longer events of lesser intensity. On the other hand, carbohydrates are the primary fuel for runs of moderate and higher intensity.

“Athletes may be better acclimated and efficient at utilising fat or carbohydrates, depending on how they have trained,” explains Fallihee.

A Pre-Run Snack

What you eat and how your body reacts to it before you go for a run are both personal preferences.

Hnatiuk claims that eating before going for a run will help you get greater results because it will supply your working muscles with the fuel they require. If you want to avoid gastrointestinal distress (GI) while running, it’s important to fuel up on simple carbohydrates and give yourself plenty of time to digest.

Some meals can be consumed before a run since they are simpler to digest. Hnatiuk cites toast with jam, fruit, and cereal as examples.

Boost Your fuel With Carbs and Protein Finishing a Run

Hnatiuk advises that the best way to speed up your recovery after a run is to refuel afterward. What you consume, however, will vary according to the length and intensity of your run.

Fallihee notes that while eating is less crucial after a short, easy run, it is recommended after exercises or longer duration runs that a good meal be eaten with 1 to 1.5 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram body weight in the hour after a run.

Foods are essential for replenishing the nutrients that are used up during physical activity. Hnatiuk says that in order to give your body what it needs to begin restocking muscle glycogen and mending injured muscle tissue, you must consume both protein and carbohydrates. For instance, in addition to your carbohydrates, you should be ingesting at least 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of weight and up to 2.4 grams of protein per kilogram of weight depending on your objectives. 6

Hnatiuk suggests foods like Greek yogurt topped with fruit, protein and fruit smoothies, turkey sandwiches, and meals consisting of chicken, rice, and veggies.

Create a nutrition Strategy

It’s not just what you eat before and after a run, but how much food you eat, that matters. Consequences might be unpleasant if you deprive your body of the nutrition it needs by eating too little.

Hnatiuk warns that “under-fueling” might have negative effects on both running performance and health.

Hnatiuk believes that frequent illness or injury, poor sleep, inability to concentrate, and irritability are all indicators that you may not be getting enough calories (or fuel). Alterations to your physical body are also possible.

“From a body composition standpoint,” Hnatiuk says, “loss of muscle and strength is also a sign of under-fueling.”

Stay alert and avoid the “Dreaded Bonk.”

Overstressing the body or failing to provide it with adequate fuel to match the amount of energy it is expanding might cause the body to reach a point of no return. Bonking is another name for this occurrence.

According to Fallihee, “basically” bonking happens when a body’s “carbohydrate stores that were being utilised to fuel the activity” are depleted. “Commonly, this manifests itself as a steady decline in running capacity, a rise in perceived exertion, and/or a lengthening of the time required to recover from the effort. However, it may also cause more severe side effects including gastrointestinal distress.

According to Hnatiuk, fuel is the most fundamental necessity for optimal physical performance and body. That’s why it’s crucial to get enough of the correct kind of fuel,

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