What to eat before a 5k run?

In this brief guide, we will address the query, “what to eat before a 5k run?” We will also discuss what food you should avoid in this situation and other tips for preparing better for your run.

What to eat before a 5k run?

If you are about to run a 5k, there are a few tips that certified dietitians suggest.  First, it is important to focus on protein and carbohydrates, as they will give you enough energy to finish your activity. Also, you must take into consideration the time you have before the race starts.

If you have more than 4 hours before the race starts, you can eat a meal that contains veggies, lean protein, and carbs. If you do not have that much time, let’s say that you only got 1 hour, choose small easy-to-digest snacks, such as:

  • Gels.
  • Fruit snacks.
  • Pretzels.
  • Sports drink.
  • Cereal bar. 

When you have just 1 hour before the race starts, it is better to stay away from the food that takes a lot of time to be digested as this can affect your performance in the race. 

It does not matter how much time you have, carbs will be your best friend in this situation, they will provide your body with the energy needed to accomplish its goals, without being too heavy for your body.

Why is it important to eat carbs and protein before a 5k run?

You need to provide enough energy to your body before submitting it to this activity, however, you also don’t want to overeat and even feel sick during the race. 

Something that is a fact is that your body will need three different types of “fuel”, which are

  • Carbohydrates. Carbs represent the primary source of energy and they are the favorite energy source of the brain. Carbs will be broken down into the simplest form of sugar, glucose, which has a major role in the metabolism of our whole body, cells, and organs.
  • Proteins. We’ve all heard that athletes tend to supplement protein for their bodies, this is because they help to repair and build your body’s tissues and muscles. They also help to ease the metabolism.
  • Hydration. Can you imagine running that much and having nothing to hydrate with? What a nightmare! Keeping yourself hydrated helps to regulate your body temperature, helps with the correct functioning, and keeps your joints lubricated. To get further guidance on this subject, click here.

What are the best foods to eat before running a 5k?

As we have already discussed, making carbs and protein part of your diet before the race will give you the best results. So, if you want to prepare for the race, you can try the following ideas.

  • Apple with hemp seeds.
  • Banana toast with peanut butter.
  • Orange slices with a hard-boiled egg.
  • Berries and Greek yogurt.
  • In a smoothie, you can combine everything you want, try with your favorite fruits mixed with some source of protein, like yogurt and nut butter.

Now, if you do not want to eat anything solid, to avoid any discomfort, you can go with liquid options, like a smoothie. The good thing about smoothies is that you can pair your favorite ingredients and it is also easy to digest.

If you feel like you need some extra energy for your activities, add some matcha powder to your smoothie. Matcha powder is not everyone’s cup of tea, so you may also want to go with the safest option: coffee.

What to eat after a 5k run?

The diet after the workout session is also something you need to take care of. You are all sweaty, tired, and craving anything to recover some energy, poor food choices are at risk at this point.

It was commonly believed that after working out, an “anabolic window” was open which helps the body absorb nutrients and use them specifically for muscle building, but that is not quite right.

According to the journal Nutrients in 2020, this window might not even exist, so even when you eat 3 hours after your run, you will still get your fuel back.

With that explained, it is recommended to add to your post-workout meal some protein and carbs. Some of the most popular options are:

  • Chicken breast with veggies.
  • Oatmeal with milk and almonds.
  • Toast of cottage cheese.
  • Pasta with chicken or shrimp.  


In this brief guide, we have addressed the query, “what to eat before a 5k run?” We have also discussed what is the recommended diet in this situation and other queries related to the subject at hand.

Hope you found this blog useful. If you have any questions, please let us know.





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