Jan | 22
Fuel Up

The Great Debate: To Run Before or After Lunch

Runners have weighed the pros and cons for running before or after lunch for eons… since the beginning of time at the very least. We asked two Brooks employees to settle the score for us. Take a read through their informal opinions and let us know what side of the issue you fall on.*

Run before lunch

Steve DeKoker, Team Brand Manager

To run before or after lunch? Philosophers and poets have debated and toiled over these very words for thousands of years. My response…before lunch, dummy! Didn’t your mom ever teach you to save your dessert for last? Obviously, the “after lunch” crowd didn’t listen to their moms. Honestly, though, why put your gastrointestinal (GI) tract through unnecessary torture? Your body doesn’t want to choose between your run and your lunch. Post-lunch runners are creating an ethical dilemma for their bodies – blood to stomach or legs. My body often chooses my legs, thus enacting a series of painful and sometimes comic responses from my forgotten stomach – like a lover abandoned for a more beautiful alternative. Let’s be honest, your stomach can’t compete with your athletic, muscular legs. In response to its neglect, your stomach will often reject the very sustenance you provided it to power the rest of your body, cutting itself off to spite your legs. All poetic license aside, your body has nearly 90 minutes of glycogen (accessible energy) to utilize during intense exercise. Is your lunch run 90 minutes or less? If yes, please hold off on unnecessary anatomical conflict between two muscle systems with different, but equally important functions. Can’t we all just get along?

Run after lunch

Derek Lactaoen, Brand Communications Coordinator

It’s about 11 a.m. and I have two choices staring me in the face: run now or feed my rumbling tummy. It’s nice outside and I’m going to run today regardless, but my stomach is just so loud and the thought of spaghetti leftovers from last night is too powerful. I’m going to eat now and run after lunch. Now, I know, I’m playing a risky game. I’m staring head on at a fun assortment of GI issues that normally take the form of me feeling like there’s a garden gnome trying to escape my stomach. My legs will beg for blood and oxygen that my stomach needs to handle the pasta and tomato sauce sloshing unhappily around; thinking about it makes me second guess the big fork full of food I’m about to stick in my mouth. But then I remember the feeling of running while hungry: the lightheadedness, the deep hunger clawing at my stomach begging for food, the inability to concentrate on the conversation with running buddies or to respond well to increases in pace. It’s undoubtedly worse than the feeling of a little stomach ache. And that’s science… probably. Plus, if I wait just a couple hours after I eat, I’m probably going to avoid any GI issues at all. So, my friends, I say the reward is greater than the risk; eat now, run after and all will be right with the running world. Unless, of course, you end up with a massive stomach ache regardless of when you eat your lunch. In that case, I’m really, truly sorry.

*The real advice? Do what’s best for you. Different bellies can handle different foods at different times of the day. Some do great with a modest meal while others need several hours at least to be run-ready. Do what feels best for you.

About Derek
I’m a runner, a writer, and a shoe lover who enjoys morning coffee, travel, singing in the car, and getting legitimately lost on trail runs. Three things I can’t live without: bubble tea, Fridays, and my Brooks PureFlow’s.
  1. Crystal

    Eating before running never seems to bother me, but most people act like I’m crazy. Like you said, I guess all people handle it differently.

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