So many of the athletes I coach are pregnant right now and training for races! It is an exciting time! Unfortunately, they are running with morning sickness and having trouble finding fueling options that don’t upset their tummies while on the run. This is especially true of energy gels which are hard to stomach even when you aren’t dealing with pregnancy nausea.
Nutrition and hydration are crucial for any runner—but especially for pregnant runners!
Pregnant runners need to eat more to fuel their running and support their growing baby. On average, a pregnant runner should eat an extra 100 calories per mile they run that day, plus up to 500 calories to support their growing baby (in the third trimester).
It’s also vital that pregnant runners stay hydrated. They need to drink at least 64 to 96 ounces a day plus 12-20 ounces per hour of running.
All of this is difficult if just the thought of food makes you queasy.
I remember when I was pregnant, the thought of anything green made me sick to my stomach. I used to love big hearty salads, but just the thought of them made me sick. So I lived on carbs—always carrying crackers with me.
Related: Pregnancy Core Workout
Turns out, eating small carb-rich meals was a good move, according to Megan Robinson, registered sports dietitian and certified running coach.
I connected with Robinson to find out the best fueling options, including the best energy gels for pregnant runners with morning sickness.
Related: 5 Benefits of Running While Pregnant
In this article, I will cover:
- What does morning sickness feel like?
- What causes morning sickness?
- Can you run with morning sickness?
- And the best energy gels and fueling options for pregnant runners with morning sickness?
A reminder that I am not a doctor. As a running coach, I always advise my pregnant athletes to talk with their OB-gyn about any issues or concerns they have with their pregnancy and their running. It’s always been a good call. So if you have a concern, talk to yours!
Also, be sure to check out my in-depth nutrition plan for pregnant runners.
Ok, let’s go!
What does morning sickness feel like?
Morning sickness during pregnancy feels like nausea—like you are going to throw up. You may vomit or you may not. Though called morning sickness, nausea during pregnancy can happen any time during the day.
Morning sickness is most common in the first trimester. For both of my pregnancies, I felt nauseous during most of my first trimester. I only wanted to eat simple carbs like crackers, chips, and bagels. The thought of a leafy green salad made me want to puke.
There are steps you can take to help with morning sickness that I will share below. If your nausea is so intense that you find it hard to eat anything, please talk with your doctor. They may be able to prescribe medication that can help immensely!
I have had several athletes find great relief during pregnancy with the help of morning sickness medication.
What causes morning sickness?
Surprisingly, the cause of morning sickness is unknown but the likely culprit is hormonal changes.
Related: How Running Affects Your Hormones
Can you run with morning sickness or nausea?
Yes, you can run with morning sickness or nausea from pregnancy.
However, you should not run under-fueled or dehydrated. Pregnant runners need to stay on top of their hydration and nutrition. It is paramount and the importance should not be overstated.
If you are unable to eat because of nausea, do not run. Instead, talk to your doctor.
Below are tips from registered dietitian Megan Robinson for how to manage morning sickness and running.
How to manage morning sickness and running for pregnant runners:
- Choose salty snacks like pretzels or saltines to reduce nausea.
- Try drinking ginger tea before running to settle the stomach.
- Stay hydrated by adding electrolytes to water before runs.
- If you can’t eat before runs, try fruit smoothies or sports drinks (without caffeine).
- Eat small frequent meals throughout the day, every 2-3 hours to avoid GI upset and early satiety.
- Avoid fasted running to prevent low blood sugars and to maintain energy levels.
- Try using real food if gels or Gu upset your stomach or increase nausea such as raisins, dates, honey stinger waffles, banana bites, dried pineapple, Nature’s Bakery Fig bars, applesauce pouches.
- If taking in energy gels is more convenient for fueling your training during pregnancy, there are running gels (concentrated packets of carbs used for endurance athletes) that are easier on your stomach.
Related: The 6 Best Energy Gels for Runners
Best Energy Gels for Pregnant Runners with Morning Sickness
Other fueling options for pregnant runners with nausea:
- Clif bloks
- Skratch Chews
- Gummy bears
- Ginger Snap Cookies
- Liquid energy such as Skratch, Spring, UCAN, Gnarly, and Maurten.
- Real food such as raisins, dates, honey stinger waffles, banana bites, dried pineapple, Nature’s Bakery Fig bars, applesauce pouches.
If you need guidance with your training, including during pregnancy, check out my run coaching services. Also, be sure to check out my free training plans:
- Postpartum Training Plan
- After a Break Training Plan
- 5k Training Plans
- 10k Training Plans
- Half Marathon Training Plans
- Marathon Training Plans
- Strength Training Plan