Running Fuel on the Whole

I recently read somewhere (yes, somewhere…vague, I know) that raisins had approximately the same amount of carbohydrates and calories as the endurance cubes I’ve been using. I have never really cared for the overly sugary gummies that have been available, but I was not really aware of the whole food (however that is defined) alternatives. So, a few weeks ago and again last week on my long run, I used raisins instead of gummies for my running nutrition. All-in-all, I felt pretty good both times. Definitely a plus in the whole foods option. Plus, raisins cost much less than a lot of other on-the-run worthy foods.

I suppose I have a bit of a trend toward using more “whole-ish” foods while running. My first marathon, where I really didn’t know what I was doing and there were no aid stations to be found, I made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I cut it into quarters, stuck it in my hydration belt/fanny pack, and ate a chunk every 6.5 miles. All in all, it worked pretty well for me. I finished anyway, and only 7 (blasted) seconds over my goal of 4 hours.

I did a little research and found this article on Runner’s World and several other like it and saw mention of Fig Newtons, trail mix, dried fruit, mashed sweet potatoes (in zip lock bags with a corner cut off), and a myriad of other options. I have also seen gel recipes made of whole foods. One uses chia seeds and the other, pictured below, relies on honey and mashed bananas.

photo (5)

For me, it makes a lot of sense to use whole foods while running. I have always felt odd eating the gels and gummies. They make my mouth feel funny and my stomach hurt sometimes. After a few long runs on raisins and some trail mix, I must say that I’m quite happy with the result. I don’t feel like I’m hitting a wall and I also have not had to worry about any big GI issues.

Has anybody else used whole foods for running fuel? What did you use and how did it work?

6 Comments on “Running Fuel on the Whole

  1. I love raisins, but I can’t eat anything when I’m working out or racing. My stomach doesn’t take it. Even energy drinks mess with me.
    But I’d try that natural gel thing, sounds good.


    • Yeah! The nice thing about that gel recipe is that you could probably use other forms of sugar for it, too. Agave syrup or brown rice syrup might work too depending on the consistency.


  2. I’ve read the raisin thing too, I’m makes sense. I’m not sure I could swallow the gel recipe, I don’t mind the texture/consistency of salted caramel Gu, but I do worry about all the artificial-ness of it.


  3. One of my training buddies eats raisins on the run. I use Huma gels. They’re still prepackaged gels, but they’re made with fruit purees, cane syrup, and chia seeds. They also taste pretty good! If you’re interested in something closer to “whole” than Gu but like the convenience of prepackaged gels, I’d recommend giving Huma gels a try.


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