The 6 Best Small Meals to Eat Before a Run

Written by

When you're hankering for a breakfast burrito or a BLT, pre-run staples like pretzels or a banana can be a buzzkill. But downing a full meal too close to a workout can lead to stomach trouble mid-run.

So where's the sweet spot? In a mini meal, a scaled-down version of a flavor-packed entree. You'll get the carbs you need to fuel your workout, and a dose of protein, fat and flavor that will leave you satiated.

"Mini meals give you the satisfaction of a real meal without overeating before a run," says Sarah Koszyk, M.A., R.D., the sports dietitian for the San Francisco Marathon and Berkeley Half-Marathon.

Koszyk created the six small plates below to fall within the typical snack range of 150 to 250 calories. The meals pack carbs for energy; a dash of fiber, protein and fat for fullness; and some electrolytes to help keep fluid levels balanced. (Find out what actually boosts running performance in The Nutrients You Can't Run Without.) Koszyk offers recommended digestion time for each dish based on calories, fiber and fat contents, plus a modified recipe if you need to get out the door faster.

More: The Truth About Calories, Fat and Fiber

60 Minutes Out

Salted Rice Cake with Almond Butter and Toasted Coconut Flakes (Calories: 160)

Rice cakes have a bad rap as a bland diet food, but that very quality makes them an excellent base for a light meal. They're lower in fiber than multigrain bread, so they won't upset your stomach, helping to make this crunchy riff on PB&J a good choice when your workout is an hour or less away. The dash of salt helps you retain fluids while running, and the coconut flakes (larger than the shredded version) add mouth-pleasing crunch and more intense flavor.

More: 5 High-Carb Super Grains and Recipes for Athletes