Don’t wreck your stomach and your run with these snacks when the temperature rises. – By Selene Yeager for Bicycling
When the weather’s mild, you can use just about anything – even a slice of pizza – as pre-run fuel. But when the mercury pushes past 24 degrees, food choice becomes more of an issue: The hotter it gets, the harder your body has to work as your skin, muscles, and stomach battle for enough blood to help you sweat, run, and digest.
Make hot-weather runs easier on your body by eating easy-to-digest snacks (like bananas and energy gels) and avoiding foods like these:
Biltong & Meat-Based Energy Bars
Some runners like to pick savoury snacks like biltong and meat-based energy bars as a change of pace from the typically sweet sports stuff. That’s fine for cool-weather runs, when you need lots of calories to fuel your body’s furnace, but skip protein-heavy snacks during hot weather runs, suggests Brianna Elliott of Daily Dose Dietitians.
Protein is a highly thermogenic food, which is a fancy way of saying it requires a lot of energy for your body to digest it. In fact, you burn up to 30 percent of the calories in lean-protein foods just processing them. That’s bad if you’re running: You don’t want to raise your metabolism while when it’s already cranked up, nor challenge a gut that is already compromised by limited blood flow.
“It’s best to stay away from these kinds of snacks to ease digestion,” says Elliott.
Chocolate-Covered or Iced Energy Bars
“These bars tend to be higher in sugar, which can be hard on your stomach and cause your energy levels to crash,” says Elliott. “You don’t want this happening, especially when you have been working hard in the heat.”
We love a cold brew on a hot summer day as much as anyone, but save the suds for après run – and maybe plan that beer mile race attempt for a much cooler day.
“Alcohol is dehydrating, which can be especially harmful when it’s hot outside,” says Elliott. “Drinking a beer could also make you tired, so you won’t feel or perform your best for the rest of your run.” Enjoy a post-run beer instead – it may even be good for you.
“You don’t want to sweat more than you already are!” says Elliott. Spicy foods could also cause problems with your already-somewhat-compromised digestive system, she says, which will just make you more uncomfortable overall.
If you’re just on a short “Sundae” (ha!) run, it’s probably okay – but be aware that your belly may reject that pistachio sugar cone halfway up the next big hill or if you’re running hard. “Ice cream takes a long time to digest overall because of the fat content,” says Elliott. An upset stomach can wreck the rest of your run and make it hard to get the nutrition and hydration you need to finish feeling good.