HomeAnswersWhat should I eat before a 45-minute run?

What should I eat before a 45-minute run?

This question is about Running
Sarah Achleithner
Before a 45 minute run, you should eat a meal or snack made up of predominantly carbohydrates and some protein [1]. Examples include a banana with a small amount of peanut butter, oatmeal with fruit, cereal with milk, juice or sports drink [2]. Studies have shown that carbohydrates ingested 30 minutes before exercise resulted in better performance than 120 minutes before exercise [1]. 
Those with sensitive stomachs may want to limit protein, fat and fiber before exercise, as they take longer to digest and can potentially cause digestive issues and cramping when running [3]. 
If you’re looking for other ways to boost your performance before hitting the pavement, then ergogenic aids may be for you. While these can include training techniques and devices, certain nutrition supplements may also be useful to help prepare you for exercise, improve exercise efficiency, enhance recovery or play a role in injury prevention during intense training [3]. Here are two common ergogenic aids for runners:
  • Caffeine. Found in everything from coffee to sports gels, caffeine has been used by athletes to improve performance for decades. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system by blocking the activity of adenosine, a compound found in cells that has sedative-like properties. Research shows caffeine can improve endurance by 7-9% when combined with carbohydrates, leg power by up to 7%, and shave up to 4.2 seconds off of a 1500m run [4,5]. 
  • Beets. Beets are packed with nitrates and raise nitric oxide levels in the body, which is thought to enhance athletic performance by reducing blood pressure, increasing blood flow to working muscles, and acting as a signaling molecule to ensure adequate oxygen uptake by muscle tissue [3,6]. In fact, research shows the combined effects of beetroot/nitrogen supplementation may improve aerobic exercise performance [3].
Oatmeal with berries in a wooden bowl


  1. Rothschild, J. A., Kilding, A. E., & Plews, D. J. (2020). What Should I Eat before Exercise? Pre-Exercise Nutrition and the Response to Endurance Exercise: Current Prospective and Future Directions. Nutrients, 12(11), 3473.https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12113473
  2. Healthy Eating for Runners (2021). The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/guides/well/healthy-eating-for-runners
  3. Kerksick, C. M., Wilborn, C. D., Roberts, M. D., Smith-Ryan, A., Kleiner, S. M., Jäger, R., Collins, R., Cooke, M., Davis, J. N., Galvan, E., Greenwood, M., Lowery, L. M., Wildman, R., Antonio, J., Kreider, R. B. (2018, August 1). ISSN exercise & sports nutrition review update: research & recommendations. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-018-0242-y
  4. Warren, G. L., Park, N. D., Maresca, R. D., McKibans, K. I., & Millard-Stafford, M. L. (2010). Effect of caffeine ingestion on muscular strength and endurance: a meta-analysis. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 42(7), 1375–1387. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181cabbd8
  5. Wiles, J. D., Bird, S. R., Hopkins, J., & Riley, M. (1992). Effect of caffeinated coffee on running speed, respiratory factors, blood lactate and perceived exertion during 1500-m treadmill running. British journal of sports medicine, 26(2), 116–120. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsm.26.2.116
  6. Domínguez, R., Cuenca, E., Maté-Muñoz, J. L., García-Fernández, P., Serra-Paya, N., Estevan, M. C., Herreros, P. V., & Garnacho-Castaño, M. V. (2017). Effects of Beetroot Juice Supplementation on Cardiorespiratory Endurance in Athletes. A Systematic Review. Nutrients, 9(1), 43. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9010043