Should You Eat Before Jogging

Young girl eating a oatmeal with berries

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If you’re looking for a great aerobic exercise, then we’re sure that you have begun to add jogging into your routine. Jogging can be a versatile and pretty convenient way to get in your exercise, no matter what type of lifestyle or goal you have. It is also a great way to help elevate your health and reduce the chance of chronic health issues.

There are many different types of jogging, from the environment to the style you have to choose. For instance, there is something called fasted running or jogging, which is when the runner chooses to do their morning run on an empty stomach. 

Is this healthy? Should you eat before jogging? We’re going to take a look at this question and give you an idea of things that if you opt to eat before you jog and what you should steer clear of.

Pros & Cons of Not Eating Before Jogging

Some runners prescribe to the idea of eating before jogging, and others are against the idea. To make an informed decision on where you fall when it comes to your jogging routine, we wanted to take a look at the pros and cons of not eating before jogging.

Pros

  • Fat Burning – Many people tout the advantage of being able to burn more fat by not eating before jogging. These individuals discuss that the body will use the fat storage it has when your carbohydrate levels are low. This makes a higher level of oxidation which is basically a term that means burning of fat. Though this is not a 100% proven ideology, it is something that most think of as a benefit to jogging on an empty stomach.
  • Energy – If you’re looking to control your energy intake, then jogging on an empty stomach might be a good idea. When you’re running with no fuel, your body will turn to its liver glycogen, and this can help minimize your energy intake greatly.
  • Endurance – Some studies have shown that there is improved aerobic endurance gained from doing any exercise on an empty stomach. This, of course, is not 100% proven, but it could help with your endurance levels.
  • Reduce Digestion Issues – Many people experience digestive issues when exercising over a long period of time. If you have these issues regularly, then it might be beneficial to opt to jog on an empty stomach. With no food in the digestive tracts, these issues will be significantly reduced.

Cons

  • Intensity – When you’re dragging on an empty stomach, you’re going to tap into your fuel stores and burn more fat. But there is a limit to the amount that you can burn. Eventually, you’re going to see a diminishment in your energy levels. This may cause fatigue and decrease the intensity or pace of your jogging.
  • Injury – Because of the increased fatigue possibility, there is an enhanced chance of injury during any type of physical activity, including jogging. Along with this, your brain is not functioning at its highest form because it uses glucose to do so. This may make it hard to focus and concentrate, which could, in turn, lead to a heightened risk of injury.
  • Loss of Muscle – Cortisol is an important hormone when it comes to controlling blood glucose and stress. In the mornings, you will find that these levels are heightened, and when you have an empty stomach, your cortisol levels are even higher. Because cortisol is involved in breaking down protein in your muscle cells which helps with decreased muscles and weakness, you may find that you have a loss of muscle when you choose to jog on an empty stomach.
  • Risks – For those with diabetes or other medical issues tied to blood sugar levels, fasted exercise like jogging on an empty stomach isn’t a great idea.
  • Effectiveness – Many people think that skipping meals is an effective way to lose weight over a long period of time. And though there is some research that shows that you’re going to burn more fat when you jog on an empty stomach, it is not a long-term solution. This may be because you are burning those fat stores, and in order to balance your body out later, the body may produce more glucose to help reduce fat burning.
Young sporty woman eating an apple in the field

Foods For Fuel: What You Should Eat

If you decide that you don’t want to jog on an empty stomach, you still need to pay close attention to what you’re putting in your body to optimize your performance. Before anything, you need to understand that this meal should be done three to four hours before you head out jogging, especially if you’re planning on going a long distance. If this is the type of jogging that you’re planning on doing, we highly suggest you choose to eat something before you hit the road.

However, if you’re going for a shorter jog, then it’s not a necessity. If you do opt to do a pre-jog meal, then you’re doing so that you don’t have any cravings while you’re jogging, and you can optimize your blood sugar levels. When looking at what you should be putting in your body, you want to find something that is high in carbs and a good level of protein. 

Along with this, you should opt for meal choices that are low in nutrients that slow down your digestion, like fat and fiber. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Scrambled egg whites with white toast and a banana
  • Low fat cottage cheese with fruit and toast
  • White bagel with turkey and mustard and grapes

Avoid These Foods!

Just like there are foods that you should choose, there are also ones that you should stay away from. We’ve already talked about the fact that you need to stay away from foods high in fat and fiber and only have a moderate level of protein. This is because too much of any of those might cause cramping and affect your blood glucose levels, which will affect your energy levels.

So here are a few examples of foods that you should avoid if you’re opting to eat before jogging:

  • high fiber vegetables and fruits
  • Spicy foods
  • Caffeine

Final Thoughts

Just like with any other type of physical activity, the final decision of how you choose to start your day off is up to you. Every individual is different, and you have to find the best method for you and your body. For some, that means it’s going to be jogging on an empty stomach; others have to have that morning meal to get started. Each option has its pros and cons, and the final choice is yours.

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