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Unable to run on an empty stomach any more?

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Old 09-13-2011, 01:37 PM   #1
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Default Unable to run on an empty stomach any more?

I am one of those strange people that prefer to workout on an empty stomach, always have been. I know many recommend eating before a workout, but this is just what has always felt best to me until just recently.
I have noticed the last few weeks that my stomach is growling like crazy during my runs and I have that empty pit of my stomach feeling. Today it was so bad, I had to stop and eat a granola bar and then continue, which helped with the growling, but I didn't like the feeling of food in my stomach either, which is why I usually don't eat prior to a run. There have been a few days that I didn't feel this way, but overall it has been getting worse. I also have lower energy when I am feeling ravenous.
So I have a few questions, first, why do you think I am now having trouble with this since I have been running since December? I am not a high mileage runner, typically between 2 and 4 miles, highest so far is 8 and I run 4-6 days a week. I did weigh a lot more back then obviously, I started at 230 and am now down in the low 180s, but still at the higher end of overweight at around a 28 BMI, so I should still have a lot of fat stores to burn. I have recently increased the calories I am taking in, especially on my running days to help with the increased appetite, but even with the increased calories, I still feel this way many (but not all) of my workout days.
Second, what are your favorite pre and post workout snacks? Am I looking for more carb type things before and protein after?
Oh, and I should probably add that I walk outside for an hour with a friend prior to my run on the weekdays, so I would probably be eating an hour and fifteen minutes before I get on the treadmill (I'm a treadmill runner).
Any thoughts or suggestions sure would be appreciated!
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Old 09-13-2011, 02:11 PM   #2
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You should have a 100 calorie snack for every hour of exercise you're doing. So if you're walking for ann hour prior to your run, your body could just very well be hungry. And even though you have a BMI of 28, you're body is smaller than it used to be and there are less fat stores.

I'm training for a half marathon (also a treadmill runner) and I have a specific schedule for my eating pre-run. I ran a 10 miler earlier this year, and this worked well for me then.

For my shorter runs (3-4 miles) I usually have some almonds or a luna bar about 30 minutes prior to running. I also hate the "food in my stomach feeling" while exercising, but I know I won't be able to run if I'm starving.

For my longer runs (always on the weekends) I usually get up and make myself an egg white omelette, wander around for about 60-90 minutes, then grab coffee on the way to the gym. By this point my stomach isn't so full that it's uncomfortable, and it gives my body time to "void" itself. I'm up to 8 miles now, so I'll run 4, pause, stretch, eat half of a protein bar (usually half of a clif or luna bar) and then run my last 4. I can NOT run more than 6 miles well without having some sort of snack in between.

I would try eating some almonds on your way to the gym after your walk. They're not "filling" but they do give you good nutrients.

Good luck!

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Old 09-13-2011, 02:11 PM   #3
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I don't know why it might be different now, but our bodies change and they change probably more often than we realize, so maybe it is just to the point now where it needs a little bit of fuel before running...especially if you say that you are feeling ravenous which equals no energy...that's no fun!

I've been running in the mornings without eating first, but on the occasion when I do eat first I usually eat toast with peanut butter. This was recommended to me by a friend who runs marathons. She also suggested yogurt w/granola after a run or a cheese stick with fruit to get the carb/protein balance.
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Old 09-13-2011, 02:54 PM   #4
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I notice a difference recently too. I'm not sure if it peak training or my body trying to lose more but I get hungry super fast and crave eating while I run sometimes. Crazy! Healthy snacks have been helping me! nuts/fruit/ pb on toast. something light and small.
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Old 09-13-2011, 03:48 PM   #5
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I did a pretty hard workout yesterday even though I ate dinner right before I went. I would not suggest eating a full meal but I do like the idea of a snack before the workout!
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Old 09-13-2011, 10:25 PM   #6
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It may pass. I prefer to run on empty to, as many as 15 miles with nothing but a GU energy gel. However I do have periods of time when I'm hungrier than normal. Usually a banana will do the trick. It's quickly absorbed by the body and doesn't upset my stomach and by the time my body has used it up the exercise has killed any other hunger.

Honestly there are enough tips and tricks out there of when you should and shouldn't eat to make your head spin. In the end you really just need to do what works for you.
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Old 09-14-2011, 08:13 AM   #7
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Thanks for all the great suggestions, I really appreciate all of them and have taken some notes. Glad to know I am not the only one and yes, like Ncuneo said there is so much conflicting advice out there, I just don't want to make myself feel worse, but it is probably just trial and error. I want to try it out today, but due to my schedule, I may not get to run (boo), but I am still going to have a small snack right before my walk just in case I can get it in. I bought some bananas, raw almonds and I have peanut butter and bread as an option too. I will make something of that today. I will give it a week and see how I feel overall and make adjustments from there. Thanks again girls.
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Old 09-14-2011, 10:15 AM   #8
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jomatho, I also run with an empty stomach. I run in the morning and I must say that, for me, the growling depends on what I ate last night. If my last meal is about 2-3 hours before bedtime, I don't feel hungry when I wake up, not even after my run. I also sleep better if I go to bed without any late snacks perhaps this would help?
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Old 09-14-2011, 10:20 PM   #9
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I am a long-distance runner and I have this problem as well. What works best for me, but definitely isn't for everyone, is eating while I'm running. The gu and energy stuff out there makes me sick to my stomach. I eat a banana before my runs and a small wheat whole bagel right after my run.

However, during long runs, which are now up to 20 miles on Sundays, I take a whole, regular-sized bagel and tear off small pieces, usually starting at mile 2 and eat it slowly throughout the run. As has been suggested, what works for lot of people may not work for you. Listen to your body and feed it if you're hungry. Isn't it great to actually hear your stomach growl? I hadn't heard that sound in years, so it's like music to me.
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