Five of the best energy packed foods to eat while running

Years ago, the major consumers of sports nutrition products were professional athletes and bodybuilders.

Now, supplements are big business with a huge selection of energy bars, protein powders, bars, gels and drinks readily available for all kinds of workout programs and levels of fitness.

But as far as runners are concerned, the guidelines haven't changed.

Portion control

Adam Herps, Exercise Physiologist at Key Asset Wellness reminds us that if you're exercising for less than one hour, eating isn't required.

"Your body carries enough energy in its reserves to power you up for 60 minutes of effort," says Herps.

"Ideally, you should focus on eating and drinking properly before your run. For a more sustained effort, it can help to take on board extra energy while you're running if you are trying to maintain a high speed or go for distance.

"If you're racing or trying to push your limits, it's definitely a good idea to take on board some calories and water."

Fuels ain't fuels

Sports nutrition products come in many shapes and sizes, sometimes featuring clever marketing. Always take a close look at the ingredients and actual nutritional information.

"Some products are highly processed and refined," says Herps. "Where possible, seek out products that are natural, without chemicals and added preservatives."


"For sports drinks, watch out for high sodium levels," he adds, "too much salt can dehydrate you, so look for sodium levels of 50mg per 100mls."

Solid vs liquid

He recommends runners stick to easily absorbed, low-GI carbohydrate foods to help avoid an upset stomach and nausea during a run.

"Personally, I like to eat solid foods rather than a gel or a drink, so healthy sports bars like enerGI Bio Bars work well for me."

"Low GI foods, such as a banana, are also a great way to refuel as they provide athletes with a steady release of glucose into the bloodstream to give them sustained energy," adds Herps.

For best results during high intensity endurance racing or training, runners should drink 400ml to1000ml of water per hour depending on the temperature and the athlete's size. Also try and get in 140-to-240g of calories per hour, depending on your size and running pace.

Practice fuelling

Consuming food and water during a run should be practiced well ahead of your race, to train the gut and find out what works best for you.

For sports gels, make sure you test them out before your event as they can upset your stomach and can taste terrible when you are on your fifth gel.

"Sports bars are a good choice and are easy to carry, however some can be very chewy and hard to eat," says Herps.

"It's a good idea to keep the bar close to your skin if it's a cold day so it stays soft and easier to chew."

Five of the best on-the-go foods

1. EnerGi Bio Bars

High in protein, gluten free with probiotics and 18 essential vitamins and minerals these bars have no artificial sugars, are thin enough to fit into a pocket and keep blood sugars levels steady during exercise.

2. Bananas

 They're a great source of carbohydrates, potassium, and magnesium. Slow-moving sugar plus the electrolytes found in a banana can help keep your energy level steady throughout long workouts or races.

3. VFuel

​These endurance energy gels are a convenient, premium energy source. The ingredients are specially formulated to maximise the benefits of each training session or race by reducing the onset of muscle fatigue, minimising systemic damage and substantially accelerating recovery time. 

4. SOS hydration

A fast-acting electrolyte replacement and hydration drink that helps combat dehydration on long runs. It contains three times more electrolytes than other sports drinks but less glucose, sodium and magnesium.  

5. Trail mix

Calorie dense and easy to much on while running, a home-made trail mix with cashews, coconut flakes, dark chocolate nibs, walnuts and cranberries will maintain energy levels and ward off hunger.

The goal of one day completing an ultra-marathon inspires running fanatic Laura Hill to clock up the kilometres each week. With a day job in the corporate world, Laura loves nothing more than lacing up her runners and hitting the pavement to clear her mind and challenge her body.

Follow Laura Hill on Twitter

Do you have a favourite way to refuel? Share your experiences in the comments section below.