Fueling for Performance

What’s Included?

  • Why is fueling so important?
  • What to eat BEFORE a run
  • What to eat DURING a run
  • What to eat AFTER a run
  • Examples for each one

Why is Fueling Important?

Fueling adequately is important for runners and can help meet performance goals and help with recovery. In addition, fueling properly can help improve stamina and endurance, decrease fatigue during your runs, and can quicken the recovery process after your hard work.

If you feel like you’ve plateaued, aren’t hitting your goals like you would like, or your runs feel harder than they should, taking a look at your nutrition may be one thing that pushes you closer towards your goals. Nutrition is important at ALL times – pre-run, during, and after. Knowing how to time your meals and snacks to improve performance and recovery is vital to proper fueling, so let’s dig in!

Before a Run

45 minutes – 2 hours

  • This time should be focused on topping off your glycogen stores (carbohydrates)
  • Limit fat and fiber containing foods: Foods high in fat and fiber (think nut butters, avocado, butter, whole fat dairy, fruits/veggies, whole grains etc) take longer to digest and may not sit as well and cause GI issues.. Depending on the length and purpose of your run, and how much time you have to eat and digest before your run, some of these things may not bother you, but choosing easy to digest carbohydrates should be a priority and is more likely to be well tolerated.
  • Easy to digest carbohydrates
  • Adjust serving sizes and amounts to your personal needs: Depending on how far out you are from your run (time wise), you may want to adjust the serving sizes or amount.
  • Use previous experiences to choose something that sits well with you


  • Half or full bagel
  • 1-2 slices of toast
  • Fig Bar
  • Poptart
  • Applesauce Pouch
  • Pretzels
  • Low-fiber grains
  • Cereal
  • White rice
  • Potatoes

During a Run

  • Protein and fat not needed
  • If your run is LESS than 60 minutes: No fueling needed
  • If your run is GREATER than 60 minutes: 30-60g carbohydrates per hour
  • Taking in fuel during long runs can help with recovery time


  • Gels
  • Honey stinger waffles
  • Cliff Bloks
  • Liquid based products like Ucan or Maurten

After a Run

30 – 45 Minutes After

  • 1:3 or 1:4 ratio of protein:carbs – think for every 1 gram of protein consumed, aim for 3-4 grams of carbohydrates
  • 20-30 grams of protein
  • 60-120 grams of carbohydrates


  • Chocolate milk
  • Greek yogurt with toppings or side of fruit
  • Smoothies
  • Regular meal (breakfast/lunch/dinner) – 1/2 plate Fruits/Veggies, 1/4 plate protein, 1/4 plate grains

Running Fasted

Should You Do It?

Running fasted isn’t always ideal, but some people prefer and do well with it. If you experience heavy legs or easy fatigue on your runs, adding in a small bite before your run may help! Start small and gradually increase what you are able to tolerate. Fueling strategies take practice to find what works best for you!

Amy Haas
Run with Aim, LLC
UESCA Certified Running Coach
NASM Certified Personal Trainer
NASM Certified Nutrition Coach

Information Written By:
Katelyn Biros
Registered Dietitian