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Are You A Runner? 12 Foods You Must Avoid!

By Nikita Banerjee +2 more

The goodness and nourishment that we derive from foods that we consume indeed builds our overall structure, our immunity, our muscle growth, the health of our skin and hair, etc.

Our body is continuously evolving and constantly repairing, healing and rebuilding itself. So, every day, the body works towards building new cells, healing injuries, supplying vital organs with essential nutrients, etc.

Foods to avoid for runners

Foods Runners Should Eat

To perform all these life-enriching functions, the body needs a daily dose of health supplements that get essentially supplied based on the diet that we consume.

The importance of a well-nourished diet becomes even more critical when the body undergoes rigorous wear and tear. Thus, sportsmen, runners and people who are engaged in strenuous physical endeavours need to be warier of what they consume and specifically what they should be avoiding. They must consume foods like bananas, oats, broccoli and more.

But first, they should know which foods to avoid!

Did you know that individuals who incorporate running or jogging into their fitness routine are advised to obtain 60% to 70% of their calorie intake from carbohydrates? Additionally, it is recommended to allocate 15% to 20% of their remaining calories to lean protein and another 15% to 20% to healthy fats.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Foods Runners Should Avoid

1. Sugary Sodas

Sugary sodas tend to instantly satiate you but eventually cause dehydration and elevated sugar cravings. They are also tough to digest and interfere with your energy levels, so it’s best to avoid them as much as you can as they are the worst foods for runners!

2. Frozen Meals

In today’s time-pressed lifestyle, it’s effortless to fall prey to the tempting option of frozen foods. These are not only convenient but only reasonably light on the pocket. Pick up a wrong packet, and you have given a grand welcome to humungous amounts of calories, sodium and fats. To prevent yourself from falling into this trap, it’s best to check the labels carefully and especially the serving size of these packets.

Also, if you can, do skip the frozen meals altogether as they feature on the list of foods runners should never eat!

3. Dairy products

Many runners experience stomach pain during the initial days of their running.   Gastrointestinal experts suggest that this is primarily because they are lactose intolerant. Such runners find it difficult to digest dairy products such as milk, cheese, etc. And many runners, become aware of this intolerance condition only after they start running. Fortunately, for such runners, there are alternative products available in the market, such as almond milk, soy, etc.

4. Alcohol

A highly enduring and challenging run completed successfully may call for celebrations, but the celebrations should not take the form of a pint of beer.   The biggest reason why this is a strict no is that beer is a diuretic – it leads to dehydration, which ultimately results in muscle cramps and fatigue. The alcoholic content of the beer also affects the body’s ability to regulate its temperature based on the temperature of the surroundings.

5. Energy Drinks

If you are planning to go for a long run, avoid the consumption of energy drinks. Most energy drinks are loaded with sugars and some even contain caffeine, which can create an urgency to urinate.

Excessive caffeine consumption also causes the heart rate to pump up and augments the runner’s stress levels. Therefore, it’s always better to keep yourself light as you gear up for a big run and ensure that you are adequately hydrated through regular consumption of water.

In my experience, I have observed that calcium and vitamin D are crucial for maintaining strong and healthy bones, particularly in women runners. Calcium is important for bone mineral density, while vitamin D aids in calcium absorption. Including sources of calcium, such as dairy products or fortified plant-based alternatives, along with exposure to sunlight for vitamin D synthesis, can help reduce the risk of bone loss and stress fractures in women runners.

Dr. Smita Barode, BAMS

6. Oily And Fatty Food Items

Fats, no doubt, hold a vital place on the food platter, but they tend to sit in the stomach and take a long time to digest. These food items also tend to make you sluggish, as the body has to start working hard to digest them. Thus, items like cheese, butter should be best avoided before a run, as they tend to make you feel uncomfortable.

7. Spicy Food

While spicy food is good to up your metabolism, it’s not a great idea when you are gearing up for the long run. Spicy food can interfere with the gastrointestinal system of our body and can even cause heartburn.

8. Foods That Are High In Fibre And Carbohydrates

Though foods that are rich in fibre are great for health, they also land up creating gas in the intestinal tract. This can result in bloating and can make running cumbersome. Therefore, rather than having these food items before the run reserve them for an after-run meal because the fibre content in these food items will help to keep your bowel movements healthy, reduce the cholesterol levels and keep a tab on your blood sugar levels too.

Similarly, foods that are high in carbohydrates are equally hard to digest and should be the food runners must avoid!

Read More About 10 Foods That Are Hard to Digest

9. Substitutes Of Butter

When you need to pack a snack of toast for yourself, it’s best to use real butter rather than opting for butter substitutes. Butter substitutes are high in hydrogenated oils which can affect the heart. Thus, it is better to choose natural sources such as nuts, avocados, coconut oils, etc. These help you feel fuller faster, and their unsaturated fats help to maintain good heart health too.

10. Nuts

While nuts – both the salted and unsalted versions are great for runners but the salted ones are the best bet since runners tend to lose a lot of salt in their sweat, it’s best to consume these in moderation. Nuts are loaded with calories and can have a significant impact on your waistline. Similarly, nuts, the ones that are roasted in oil or are sugar-coated, are also a strict No!

11. Cream-Based Soups

Considering it’s the winter season, soups are a great healthy choice too. These not only keep you warm but also fill you up in the healthiest of ways. However, it’s best to limit yourself to any version of the soup, which is a cream of anything. Instead indulge in healthy servings of broth-based soups of sprouts, spinach, tomatoes, etc.

12. Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners such as sucralose cannot afford to find a place on your dining table if you are an avid runner. They cause dehydration, increased sugar cravings and also result in the bodyweight shooting up.

Based on my experience, I have observed that including healthy carbohydrates in your diet may be beneficial for runners. Foods like rice, whole grain breads, pastas, and oatmeal provide you with sustained energy due to their complex carbohydrate content.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD


In order to ensure that you are able to perform effectively when it matters most, a well-balanced diet is integral. Here are some things you can add to your diet that will help you reach the maximum of your potential:

1. Bananas

You may have often seen tennis players grab a banana between sets. Known for its high carbohydrate content, banana is one of the most energy-giving foods there is. Adding a banana to your breakfast and in between workouts can help increase stamina and strength.

2. Broccoli

Broccoli is one of those foods a runner should always have in their diet. Packed with Vitamin C, which helps prevent muscle fatigue especially after workouts, this vegetable is rich in calcium and Vitamin K which increases bone strength. Try adding this to your meals to shorten recovery periods between training sessions.

3. Oats

Another great breakfast option, oats has a high carbohydrate and fibre content. The high carbohydrate content adds the perfect boost for the morning run. Not just that, oats are perfect for those concerned about their diabetes.


The food that you consume should act as fuel to support your running goals. Thus, eating the right kind and right quantity of food items will not only boost your performance levels but also equip your body to fight injuries better.   So next time you go grocery shopping, keep this list in mind and be wary of the items that you should add to your shopping cart.

Read More About 9 Energy Giving Foods to Include in Your Diet

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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