Nutrition For Runners

A Strong, Healthy Body Needs Good Fuel.


  • Staying properly hydrated is especially important for runners as you’ll lose fluid by sweating.
  • Drink water regularly throughout the day, especially when you’re thirsty!
  • Unless you’re running for more than an hour, water is the best drink to stay hydrated.
  • Refueling after running is important, especially if you’ve had a long or hard workout. Drinking water and having a healthy snack will do the trick in most cases.
  • Plain milk is a great post-exercise drink as it has carbohydrates to replenish the glycogen your muscles used for energy and protein to help them recover.
  • Chocolate milk has a lot of sugar and should not be considered a healthy drink.

As you can see below, many of the drinks we think of as ‘healthy’ contain a lot of sugar. Make sure you ‘think your drink’ and stick with water most of the time!

Sports drinks

  • Sports drinks were developed for athletes participating in vigorous activity for more than an hour. They contain a lot of sugar and other ingredients most recreational athletes don’t require. Unless you’re doing something as vigorous as running for more than one hour, stick with water!
  • Make your own “sports drink” by mixing 1/3 cup of 100 per cent fruit juice with 2/3 cup water.

Energy drinks

  • Energy drinks aren’t safe for children and youth because they contain high levels of caffeine, sugar and other stimulants. A well-balanced diet, along with enough sleep, will provide a young person with enough energy to last the day, even if they are very active.


  • Consume 3 healthy meals a day.
  • Run 2 hours after a meal, but have a small snack beforehand if you’re hungry when preparing to run.
  • Eating during exercise isn’t recommended as you may get a stomach ache. If you know in advance you’ll be active for several hours at a track meet or tournament, eat healthy snacks in small portions. Fruit, yogurt, cereal or granola bars, nuts or seeds, or cheese and crackers are good snacks.
  • Avoid spicy and fatty foods before running as they are harder to digest and may give you a stomach ache.
  • Not all foods that claim to be healthy truly are. Learn how to read food labels to ensure you are informed about what you put in your body.

For more information about healthy eating, check out the nutrition section of the Runner’s Handbook.

Looking for some ideas for healthy snacks and meals? Check out the recipe section at Nourish Nova Scotia.