Listeners Nutrition Clinic 4 - She Runs Eats Performs

Episode 130

Published on:

23rd Feb 2023

Listeners Nutrition Clinic 4

Listeners Nutrition Clinic 4

This is the 4th of our Listeners Nutrition Clinic episodes. These are episodes dedicated to answering questions we have received from YOU, our listeners. They are questions linked to YOUR nutrition for your running, performance and personal goals

We host these episodes every few weeks so, if you have any questions you would like us to answer/discuss in this space then please get in touch with us at

Hopefully the hints and tips we give will help support the individual posing the question…but also give you all some food for thought!

The 3 questions we are discussing today are:

  1. What should I eat prior to a FAST 5K race?
  2. What is the difference between raisins and sultanas and which should I choose for my run training?
  3. What food/snacks should I eat DURING my forthcoming 70K ultra run?  



Q1. What should I eat prior to a FAST 5K race?

Outlining some recommendations for someone completing a 5K training run at an easy pace including:

  • Follow an everyday healthy meal plan CONSISTENTLY
  • Ensure a BALANCED intake of complex carbohydrate and protein rich foods and 7-9 portions vegetables DAILY
  • Run a 5K (easy pace) in the fasted state to encourage efficient use of fat as fuel 


Discussing what to eat prior to a 5K race being run at pace:

  • What to eat and how much to eat will depend on the amount of time lapsing between rising and racing
  • If travel time is to be included (2hrs+ between rising and racing) then a balanced breakfast including complex carbohydrate and protein would be important
  • Eating enough to feel satisfied but not full would be recommended
  • Having an additional quick release carbohydrate snack approx. 30-60mins before the race begins would also be recommended to top up blood glucose levels
  • If minimal time is available between rising and racing then quick release carbohydrate food choices need to be considered  

Foods to consider approx. 2hrs pre-race:

  • Nutrient dense smoothie containing oats, protein powder, almond milk and berries
  • Overnight oats or porridge with added nuts and seeds or nut/seed butter
  • Scrambled egg on brown toast

Foods to consider approx. 30-60mins pre-race:

  • Banana
  • Medjool dates
  • Raisins

Foods to consider if short time lapse between rising and racing:

  • Smoothie containing tropical fruit (for example: papaya, mango, banana, pineapple) blended with yogurt, coconut water or milk (almond, coconut, oat)
  • Banana
  • White bread toast topped with honey or maple syrup


Q2. What is the difference between raisins and sultanas and which should I choose for my run training?


  • Raisins, sultanas and currants are the dehydrated (or dried) version of different types of grapes (that is an easy one that I am sure everyone knows!!)
  • In the US, the term “raisin” is applied to both raisins and sultanas but to distinguish the two, sultanas are referred to as “golden” raisins
  • Internationally, and in fact, in most countries, including the UK, raisins and sultanas are differentiated by the TYPE of grape and the processing method used

The most common types of grapes include:

  • Raisins – Muscat, Malaga, Monukka, and Flame, Thomson Seedless…the most common in the US 
  • Sultanas – most common one is Thomson seedless
  • Currants – Zante currant

Regarding the processing: 

  • Raisins and currents go through a natural process, usually sundried for around three weeks. The grapes darken as they dry, which gives raisins/currents their dark brown colour.
  • Sultanas are typically coated in an oil-based solution prior to drying to speed up the process
  • It is this coating and fast drying process that gives sultanas their lighter colour than raisins and currants
  • In Australia some of their sultanas are made without the drying solution. The grapes are dried naturally in a similar way to raisins. As a result, they are darker in colour than “golden” sultanas. 
  • When purchasing Australian sultanas though, you do need to be discerning because not ALL of them are “natural” sultanas. There are brands available where they contain an oil coating
  • With “Golden raisins” from the US, the grapes may also be treated with a preservative called sulfur dioxide to retain the lighter colour of the grape


  • Considering which vine fruit would be most suitable for run training and WHY?
  • Raisins would be our favoured variety because they are produced naturally
  • Both are portable and easy to eat during a run
  • Both contain approx. 22g of natural sugars per 28g therefore are a good source of quick release carbohydrate for running
  • An alternative could be medjool dates because one medjool date contains 18g of natural sugars and is also very portable


Q3. What food/snacks should I eat DURING my forthcoming 70K ultra run?

When it comes to deciding what an Ultra runner eats during an event, it is REALLY important that they have PRACTICED, PRACTICED, PRACTICED during training because any new/unfamiliar foods eaten during and event…especially towards the end of the race could result in nausea/vomiting and/or digestive distress. 

  • Having REAL food during an ultra-event is recommended, however a mixture of real food and bars/gels may be sufficient a 70K race
  • Real food for a 70K event could consist of sandwiches with a filling of choice. For example, honey, maple syrup, chocolate spread as it is easy to have “on the run”
  • Aim to eat foods rich in quick release carbohydrates wherever possible to ensure glucose is being delivered efficiently to the muscles to be used as fuel. 
  • Eat REGULARLY during a 70K (approximately every hour) to help maintain glucose absorption and uptake by muscles

So, which foods to choose?

In the case study being discussed, the client chose to eat every hour. Her choice was

to eat approx. every hour. So her strategy was….

  • 1st Snack – ¼ of a white bread jam sandwich
  • 2nd Snack – Maurten Gel
  • 3rd Snack - ¼ of a white bread jam sandwich
  • 4th Snack – 2/3 Maurten Bar
  • 5th Snack - ¼ of a white bread jam sandwich
  • 6th Snack – Maurten Gel (possibly with added caffeine)
  • 7th Snack - ¼ of a white bread jam sandwich
  • 8th Snack – Depending on how you are feeling at this point:
  • ¼ Chocolate spread sandwich OR Maurten gel with caffeine

She also carried extra snacks (dried mango pieces)…just in case, which she needed!

BUT……. This runner also consumed one of the drinks provided at the official stations. Following this she felt very nauseous and thought she was going to vomit, however the nausea subsided eventually.

So…what can be learned from this runner’s experience?

It is really important to self-cater unless you know the products that will be available at the official stations AND that they have been trialled during training.


AVOID any food that has not been consumed and tolerated prior to race day!! 



  1. Running a 5K in the fasted state would generally be ok for anyone running at an easy pace
  2. BUT…if the 5K is to be raced at speed then eating BEFORE the event would be recommended….eating enough to feel satisfied, but not full as this could lead to a stitch or digestive symptoms occurring.
  3. Dried vine fruits (raisins, sultanas and currants) are an excellent source of quick release carbs with a small box (28g) containing approx. 22g natural sugars 
  4. BUT…If choosing dried vine fruits as an energy source for endurance running, remember raisins and currents go through a natural drying/dehydrating process, however sultanas are typically coated in an oil-based solution prior to drying to speed up the process…so choose wisely
  5. When completing an endurance event from Half Marathon to ultra-distance it is important to PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE you nutrition strategy during training
  6. IF IN DOUBT….DON’T!! In other words…be nutritionally self-sufficient during endurance events and DON’T have any food from the official stations, unless you have done your homework, found out what is available and TRIALLED it beforehand in training.    


Race Day Success: Nutritional Strategies

Food For Pre-Training

Food For Snacks For Runners


The suggestions we make during this episode are for guidance and

advice only, and are not a substitute for medical advice or treatment.

If you have any concerns regarding your health, please contact

your healthcare professional for advice as soon as possible.

Aileen Smith and Karen Campbell host RUNNERS HEALTH HUB. A place for like-minded female runners who are looking for simple ways to support running performance, energy, endurance, and general great health.

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Happy Running!

Aileen and Karen 


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About the Podcast

She Runs Eats Performs
for mid-life female runners of all abilities
Are you confused about the science around nutrition for runners? Listen in to learn about the WHY, HOW, WHAT, and WHEN of eating to fuel your running performance.

We are here to help you translate sports nutritional science, into easy to apply tips and plans, helping you enjoy peak running performance. We focus on the FEMALE FACTORS every mid-life woman needs to know to be a healthy runner.

About your host

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Aileen Smith

Nutritionists, Educators, Podcasters, Runners and Friends

We have a love of running and a passion for nutrition, delicious food and healthy living. She Runs Eats Performs for female runners of all abilities who are looking for simple ways to improve their running performance and their health with nutrition and lifestyle.
We enjoy sharing our nutritional expertise, reviewing the latest sports science and most of all helping you to take easy action so you can enjoy your running life to the full.
We are here to help you achieve great health and good shape whilst staying injury-free with easy-to-understand sports nutritional concepts and easy-to-implement tips and plans.

Aileen and Karen are BANT and CNHC Registered Nutritional Therapists.