An award-winning nutritionist, health writer and former bodybuilding champion, Anita specialises in offering nutritional advise to athletes of all levels. She aims to motivate and inspire people to lead a healthier life through my books,...

Sports nutritionist Anita Bean has devised an eating plan for before and after a run to help sustain your workout

We’re not saying it’s necessary to weigh out every meal and snack from here on in, but once you’ve seen the specific quantities, you’ll get to know what a healthy portion looks like.

The activity


5k parkrun at a medium pace (7.5mph/12km/h)

Your weight = 60kg | Calories burned in 30 min = 400
Your weight = 80kg | Calories burned in 30 min = 500

2hr before your run

The start time may be early, but avoid rolling out of bed straight into your running shoes. Eat an energy-fuelling breakfast to sustain your race:

Your weight = 60kg | Ideal intake = 60g carbs & 10g protein
3 level tbsp (30g) porridge oats + 200ml semi-skimmed milk + 1 chopped banana + 2tsp (15g) runny honey
2 Oatibix (or similar) + 200ml semi-skimmed milk + 1tbsp (25g) raisins

what to eat before a run
Pre-run: Porridge with banana

Your weight = 80kg | Ideal intake = 80g carbs & 15g protein
4 level tbsp (40g) porridge oats + 300ml semi-skimmed milk + 1 banana + 2tsp (15g) honey
3 Oatibix (or similar) + 250ml semi-skimmed milk + 1tbsp (25g) raisins


Within 1 hr of finishing your run

Lunch is a few hours off, so have a mid-morning snack to replenish your energy stores:

Your weight = 60kg | Ideal intake = 30g carbs & 20g protein
500ml hot chocolate
300ml semi-skimmed milk or 310ml protein drink such as UFit protein shake drink + 1 banana

Post-run: hot chocolate
Post-run: hot chocolate

Your weight = 80kg | Ideal intake = 40g carbs & 25g protein
600ml hot chocolate
500ml semi-skimmed milk + 1 banana

Do I need special drinks?

If you’re exercising for less than 1 hr, drink only water. There’s no need for branded ‘sports’ drinks, which may contain huge quantities of sugar.

If you’re exercising at a moderate-high intensity for longer than this (around 2–3 hr), you may want to drink diluted squash (1 part cordial to 6 parts water) to fuel your muscles with carbohydrates, as well as replace fluids.

If you’re exercising in hot or humid conditions, or for longer than 2 hr, a sports drink may be a good idea. These drinks contain sodium, which will help your body to retain water while exercising and replace salt lost through sweat, as well as carbohydrates for an energy boost.

Going for the burn?

Anita’s book, Food for Fitness 4th Edition (Bloomsbury Sport, £16.99), is a handy guide for anyone who’s taking their exercise plan to a new level. As well as dispelling popular myths, she shares the latest nutrition research for performance, giving you the tools to reach your peak. Plus find 65 delicious recipes, as well as sport-specific menu plans.