Fact Check: Should You Consume Dairy Before a Run?

Can dairy improve your runs? (Image via unsplash/Anita Jankovic)
Can dairy improve your runs? (Image via unsplash/Anita Jankovic)

The post-run protein shake has become a staple for many runners, but what about pre-run milk?

If you're lactose intolerant or have an aversion to dairy products, fear not: You can still enjoy a warm bowl of oatmeal with some fresh fruit before your next run. In this piece, we'll take a look at whether milk before your run is a good idea or not.

Should Dairy Be Taken Before A Run?

There is some truth to the idea that dairy consumption before running can cause discomfort. This discomfort, though, is not due to lactose intolerance but rather a lack of time for your body to digest it.

If you have dairy and run immediately, you may experience stomach cramps and other uncomfortable symptoms associated with food digestion. Some people are more sensitive than others when it comes to this issue.

So if you find yourself having trouble tolerating dairy before exercising even after eating adequate amounts of food beforehand (such as an hour or two), switching your pre-run fuel sources may be helpful.

Dairy products contain fat and protein—both useful nutrients for muscle recovery—but they also contain lactose. That can contribute excess calories when consumed in large quantities or at inappropriate times (like right before exercise).

Lactase supplements might help those who are intolerant of milk products by allowing them access to these beneficial nutrients without unpleasant side effects during digestion. This product works by breaking down lactose into glucose molecules so that it can pass easily through the intestinal walls without causing gas build-up inside your intestine.

Can Dairy Help You Improve Your Runs?

Yes, contrary to popular belief, dairy, under certain circumstances, can help you improve your runs. The only downside is that it may make you feel a little heavier than usual, making it a suboptimal choice if you're one to feel stuffy after a glass of milk.

While the benefits of dairy may seem like an obvious choice for runners, there are other options that may be better for you. For example, meat and eggs contain protein (and therefore, carbohydrates) as well.

However, meat is also higher in fat than dairy or even many plant-based foods. Additionally, some plant-based foods such as soybeans can provide all three macronutrients - carbohydrates, fats and proteins - in a single source.

Consuming dairy products like milk before heading out on a run can replenish glycogen level in your muscles. If you enjoy milk with your breakfast cereal or yogurt with your fruit before running, go ahead, and indulge.

Milk and yogurt are good sources of protein, calcium, potassium and other nutrients that can help improve your health, whether you're a runner or not

Final Verdict

Dairy is a great pre-workout. It can provide you with a healthy dose of protein and carbohydrates, both of which are crucial to your pre-run meal.

Protein can help with muscle recovery, which is crucial for keeping your body strong and ready for a hard run. Carbohydrates are also needed to fuel your body during your workout, so be sure to add some of it to your meal before heading out the door.

Additionally, dairy contains calcium and potassium - two nutrients that can aid in hydration. Calcium helps prevent cramping during exercise, while potassium helps regulate fluid balance in the body.

So if you're feeling dehydrated or cramped up before hitting the pavement, have some milk (or yogurt) as part of a balanced breakfast.


Dairy is an excellent source of protein and carbohydrates, both of which are beneficial before runs. In moderation, dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese can be a great addition to your pre-workout meal.

Just remember that the more processed the dairy product is, the more likely it could increase your chances of bloating or stomach discomfort during exercise.

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Edited by Bhargav
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