Proper Nutrition for Your 1st … or 50th … 5K!!

Submitted by Kelly Devine Rickert, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, Registered Dietitian/Health Coach, Franciscan WELLCARE

I often get asked the question, “What do I eat before I run or what do I eat the night before a race?” Well look no further! The following are some general tips on what to eat the night before a race and the morning of.  Keep these tips in mind for this weekend’s “Anyone Can Do a 5K” run at Omni Health and Fitness Schererville, September 21 at 8 a.m.


  • Drink plenty of water the day before and night of the race
  • Skip the sodas the night before
  • Drink at least 2 cups of water or Gatorade the morning of
  • Drink a half cup of water at each aid station and 1-2 cups after the race
  • If hot or humid, increase the water intake during the race
  • A 1-2% dehydration before a race leads to a 10% decline in performance
  • (and less calories burned!)
  • Limit yourself to one caffeinated drink the morning of the race

The night before

  • You do not need to eat any more than usual the night before a 5K
  • Keep your diet low in fat (easy on butter, fattening meats, sauces, dressings)
  • Have at least 1 form of carbohydrates (a baked potato, rice, pasta, bread) with some lean protein and a vegetable

Race Morning

  • Drink 2 cups of water race morning
  • Eat a light breakfast (nothing new!)
  • Small banana, granola bar, half bagel with jelly, toast with peanut butter
  • Keep it low in fiber and fat
  • Remember to leave in time to allow for parking and lines in at the bathroom before the race

Post Race

  • First of all, congratulations, enjoy yourself!
  • Typically the best post workout snack is a carbohydrate and protein
  • A light yogurt, a protein shake, whole grain sandwich
  • Best if in liquid form and taken within a 45 minute window of exercise

Good luck!

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