Foods to Avoid Eating to Reach Your Running Goals

What we eat determines the state of our entire being. When we practice running or any other sport, diet is crucial to reaching the goals we set for ourselves.
Foods to Avoid Eating to Reach Your Running Goals

Last update: 05 August, 2018

A bad diet will noticeably decrease a runner’s performance.  For this reason, it is important to know which foods to eat and which foods to avoid, so as to get results when running.

Foods to Avoid Eating to Reach Your Running Goals

A diet alone will not work miracles.  Nevertheless, eating the right foods in proportion to our level of physical activity, age, and sex is fundamental to reach the goals we have set for ourselves.

Eating the right foods is as important as avoiding poor choices in order to reach the maximum output for any given physical activity.

White sugars, lactose, foods high in fat, and spicy foods are some examples of what a runner should avoid eating.  A runner needs to look for foods that are light and easy to digest, but which also provide the energy needed to reach the end of the race.

Foods That All Runners Should Avoid


It is particularly important to avoid consuming lactose before a training session or a race.  The main reason for this is that it tends to be a heavy food that is difficult to digest.

Milk is one of the foods to avoid right before running.

Candies and Other Sweets

Avoid foods rich in refined white sugars such as candies and pastries; this applies not only to a runner’s diet, but to any diet in general that is meant for improving our health.

In an athlete’s diet, these are foods that are full of empty calories which can cause headaches and fatigue for training; for this reason, substitute these foods with alternatives.

Sports Drinks and Soda

Many tend to consider sports and stimulating beverages as healthy.  However, a runner should not consume these before training or a race, as these are usually composed of mainly of sugar.

As an alternative to these beverages, mineral water is the ideal drink to keep a runner hydrated before, during, and after a race.  In addition, the quantity of water needs to be generous to keep the athlete from becoming dehydrated.

Fatty Foods

Foods high in fats should be present in all diets, in a controlled manner.  However, you should avoid consuming these before running.  For what reason?  Generally speaking, foods high in fat are heavier and very hard to digest, which leads to a direct impact on a runner’s performance.

A steak high in fat is another example of one of the foods to avoid.

Spicy Foods

Spicy foods can be counterproductive for runners, especially if they are consumed shortly before running.  In general, spicy foods accelerate the metabolism; however, consuming these foods is also associated with stomach problems and heartburn.

Ideal Foods for a Runner’s Diet

Whole Grains and Legumes

Whole grains and legumes are one of the highest-recommended foods for the diet of a runner, as well as for any person who wishes to have a healthier diet.  Legumes transform glucose into energy, and as a result, provide for better performance.


Scientific studies have shown that consuming beets can considerably favor the performance of athletes.  The athlete’s body transforms the high nitrate content of beets which allows for faster running, as well as improved stamina.

Green Vegetables and Soy Products

The calcium present in green vegetables and soy products is fundamental for good performance in a runner.  All runners can and should consume broccoli, spinach, anchovies, and sardines on a regular basis.  Additionally, it is also recommended for an athlete to consume proteins, which should be light if eaten shortly before a race.

Foods to avoid eating to reach your running goals are foods high in fats and sugars, among others.  On the other hand, whole grains and legumes, green vegetables, beets, and lean proteins are ideal foods.

The diet of any runner should contain foods that are able to transform their components into energy; this will translate into better results, in terms of speed and endurance.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.