While going into a tough workout with an empty stomach is generally ill-advised, there's just as much danger in eating the wrong kind of food before you start exercising. This is especially important before you take off for a run. No matter how far you plan on going, you want to feed your body with the kind of fuel that will help you reach the finish line and not result in being hunched over with stomach cramps.
We spoke with Michael Olzinski, MSc, Purplepatch endurance coach and Equinox run coach, who confirmed the importance of a healthy prerun snack. "If you are going running (or doing most workouts, for that matter), your body needs to deliver blood to the working muscles and limbs," Mike told POPSUGAR. "The worst thing you could do is eat something super dense that takes a lot of energy in the form of blood and acid in your stomach to digest." Your body won't have the energy left to actually do your workout.
Mike puts it this way: "The ideal situation is that your system is pretty clean and clear." Which is why he says you should steer clear of "meat, most dairy, and heavy, complex carbs," as these take a long time and a lot of energy to digest.
"For that reason, I could think of lots of terrible things to eat before a run. But one that covers it all? A cheeseburger!" he said. A cheeseburger or anything remotely similar to that (like a meat-filled burrito or curry) could take eight or more hours to break down in your belly. And that doesn't make for a very pleasant run. "Let's just be real," Mike added. "If you are going running and you have some cheesy hamburger sloshing around in your stomach, you are probably not going to feel like running hard or at all." Gross, but very true.
So leave behind the cheesy, carby stuff before your run, and reach instead for a banana and a scoop of peanut butter or hummus and fresh vegetables. Just follow Mike's golden rule — "clean and clear" — and you'll have a strong, rewarding run.