Can I Eat or Drink Dairy Products Before a Run?

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"I've heard that dairy products can cause cramping during runs. Is that true? Should I avoid dairy products before running?"

If you're lactose intolerant, you may experience cramping or other digestive issues if you consume dairy products before a run. But most people shouldn't have a problem with them, as long as you make sure you're not eating closer than 1 1/2 to two hours before a run. If you do experience GI distress or runner's trots after consuming dairy products, check with your doctor to see if you might be lactose intolerant or have another gastrointestinal issue.

Fortunately, there are numerous alternatives to regular milk that have very similar benefits such as lactose-free milk (for those with lactose intolerance), soy milk, rice milk, and nut milks such as almond milk.

If you're training for a race, it's important that you practice your pre-race meal before some of your training runs. You don't want to consume dairy the morning before a race and find out that it does lead to cramping or GI distress. Make sure you have some safe, tried-and-true favorite pre-race meals that you know won't lead to any issues during your race.

Dairy Products for Runners

If you don't have issues with dairy products before runs, a smoothie made with yogurt or cereal with milk is actually a quick and easy pre-run breakfast. You'll get some carbs for fuel, as well as protein to help you feel full. Smoothies are also a good post-run recovery drink.

Another fantastic dairy product for runners is chocolate milk.

It's one of the best recovery drinks out there because it's high in protein and carbohydrates, so it helps with glycogen restoration and reduces muscle breakdown. Unlike regular milk, it contains the ideal carbs to protein ratio (3 grams carbs to 1 gram protein) that is recommended for post-long run recovery.

The high water content in chocolate milk also helps replace water lost through sweat during your run. Chocolate milk also contains B vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, which supports bone metabolism. In addition, some runners find that chocolate milk is easier on their digestive system after a long run, Many find that they can't handle solid food immediately after a long run, but the chocolate milk goes down easy.

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