The 7 Eating Rules Every Runner Should Follow

runner eating

Looking to learn about the eating rules that can help you reach your full running game?

Then you have come to the right place.

In today’s post, I’m going to share with the diet principles every runner should abide by.

Here’s an overview of what you’re about to learn:

  1. Eat A Balanced Diet
  2. Drink Plenty of Water But Not too much
  3. Eat your Breakfast
  4. Eat Before you Run
  5. Eat After your Run The Refuel
  6. Eat Slowly
  7. Avoid Bad Foods

Let’s get started.

1. Eat A Balanced Diet


The golden rule of healthy eating, as you can already tell, is to consume primarily fresh and natural foods.

This means centering your diet on vegetables, lean meats, fish, seeds, and whole grains.

Vegetables should be the priority.

These are high in nutrients, fiber, and water, which satisfies hunger with few calories.

Shoot for at least four to five cups of vegetables and two fruits each day.

Fill half of your plate with veggies at lunch and dinner, and add fruits to pre-workout snacks to power your run and to your breakfast.

2. Drink Plenty of Water

Proper hydration is key, and not just when running.

Water is, after all, key to life.

So, how to have enough of it?

Start by ensuring that you’re well-hydrated throughout the day.

Drink about half of your body weight in ounces each day.

So if you weigh 170 pounds, drink at least 85 ounces of water.

After a run, drink 16 to 24 ounces per pound lost during the workout.

Planning on doing a long run, say beyond 45 to 60 minute?

Consider drinking on the run by either taking a water bottle with you (using a lightweight backpack, like this hydration running belt by Camden Gear) or stashing a water bottle in the bushes along your running route.

This, of course, may vary on your training intensity and what climate you live in.

Obviously, if you’re training for a marathon in a more humid region, you’ll sweat more.

This is going to increase your fluid needs.

To measure your hydration levels, look at your pee.

If your urine is a pale yellow to clear throughout the day, then you are well hydrated.

But, if it’s dark yellow or orange, then you might be dehydrated.

3. Eat Your Breakfast

Starting the day with a healthy breakfast boosts your energy and can help you clear the fog out of your brain.

It also aids in weight loss.

In fact, people who ate breakfast first thing in the morning lost more weight and have higher energy levels than those who skip it, according to a study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Make breakfast a priority, even if you are running a busy schedule.

Running in the early morning? Follow your workouts with a healthy breakfast.

Here are a few options:

  • A poached egg with whole-grain toast,
  • A bowl of oatmeal,
  • A healthy cereal and fruit.

Looking to lose weight? A high-protein breakfast has been shown to deliver the best weight loss results, according to researchers at Duke University.

4. Eat Before You Run

You should feel neither starved nor stuffed at the start of a run.

To make this happen:

  • You’ll want to avoid eating anything immediately before a run because it could cause side stitches, cramping, and other issues.
  • But running on an empty stomach—especially if you’re not used to fasted-state training—may exhaust your energy stores and leave feeling drained during your runs.

Here is what you need to do:

For easy runs of 30 to 45 minutes, running on empty won’t do you any harm, provided that you are well hydrated—especially if you running first thing in the morning.

Planning on a doing an interval session (think sprints) or go on a long run?

Then don’t neglect your pre-run fuel.

Go for something light and easily digestible, like a high-calorie sports drink or a banana.

You can also eat on the run by fueling on gels, sports drinks, or whatever snack you prefer.

I’d also recommend avoiding high-fiber, high-fat foods because they take longer to digest can cause stomach problems.

runner eating

5. Refuel After Your Runs

Post-run diet is what you eat exactly following a run.

That’s what’s known as the recovery window.

What you ingest during it is vital for replenishing glycogen stores and helping your body recover.

The rule is to eat within 30 to 45 minutes of your finish.

Go for a 200- to 300-calorie snack high in both protein and carbohydrates and try to add in anti-inflammatory foods, such as walnuts and avocados.

Then, after a few hours, sit down and have a bigger meal that consists of real and natural foods.

6. Eat Slowly

It takes approximately 20 minutes for your brain to receive the signal of “fullness” from your stomach.

Rushing through your meals hinders that process and forces you to take in extra calories.

So how can you do that?

Start by putting your mind in the right place before you start eating.

Next, focus on the food you are eating and enjoy every bite of it.

To do that, remove all sorts of distractions, such as the TV, the Smartphone, and other forms of distractions.

Another trick to eating slower is to put the fork down after putting food in your mouth.

7. Avoid Bad Foods

As I always say, you cannot outrun a crappy diet—no matter how fast you’re.

Processed foods are a no-no.

These are the exact opposite of a healthy eating lifestyle as they’ve been altered from their natural state.

Most processed items have lost some—sometimes most—of their nutrients and fiber but gained sugar and a lot of harmful additives, chemicals, or other ingredients and additives that do you more harm thang good.

That’s not the whole story.

Research reported that an increase in processed food consumption increases your risk of inflammation, diabetes, heart diseases, and so many other health nightmares.

These are choke-full with sugars, preservatives, trans fats and are usually stripped off any nutritional value.

One smart measure you can take is to declare your house a junk-food-free-zone.

The reasoning is simple: when they are not in your house, you won’t be tempted to eat them.

Go to your kitchen and get rid of chips, full-fat ice cream, cookies, sugary drinks, and other unhealthy munches.

Instead, stock your cupboard with natural and real foods, mainly vegetables, fruits, seeds, and whole grains.

You can also make healthy substitutes, such as:

  • Eating whole fruits instead of drinking fruit juice
  • Brown rice instead of white
  • Whole-wheat flour instead of white.


In today’s post, I’ve shared with you some of the eating rules that I think are essential for helping get your nutrition up to speed.

I know it’s not enough—the topic of diet isn’t something anyone can cover in one post.

That’s why I have a whole section solely devoted to nutrition.

You can find it here.

Feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.

In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.

Keep Running Strong.

David D.