You are what you eat: food is fuel

Your nutrition guide for the Wings for Life World Run. Boost your performance with the right nutrition.

Taking on the right nutrition when you’re training boosts your energy, improves performance and rebuilds your body after a workout. Essentially, it keeps you fit, healthy and competitive before, during and after a session, so you can do your absolute best on May 5!

© Anja Horina

As a sport dietician, Anja Horina works with professional athletes, FC Liefering soccer club and Wings for Life World Run partner Red Bull’s Salzburg soccer team. Her super-useful download – the Wings for Life World Run Nutrition Guide – is a great training companion right there on your phone.


Plan. Train. Customize.

While you train your muscles, you can also train your diet. Create a plan using our nutrition guide and use it to try out what works for you and what doesn’t. What’s good for one person can be detrimental to someone else – just listen to your body!

Power up the muscles

Your muscles have energy reservoirs – glycogen stores – where carbohydrates are stored to use as energy when you exercise. To support your muscles with fast energy during exercise and to keep going for longer, you need to fill up your glycogen stores with carbohydrates. That’s why carbs are important, especially before your workout.

Let’s go!


Load up on carbs – grains, rice, potatoes, pasta, muesli and fruit – and drink plenty of fluids.

3 to 4 hours before your run, eat your last big meal, one that’s easy to digest. Something low in fiber and low in fat, maybe with some lean protein. For lunch, rice with vegetables and eggs, a low-fat cheese and ham sandwich or the classic pasta with tomato sauce or Bolognese is ideal.

For breakfast, maybe go for rice pudding or porridge with fruit or, if it works for you, bread with egg or low-fat cheese and ham. A glass of orange juice is great for vitamins, rich in liquid carbs and a fresh boost.

1 to 2 hours before exercise, have a carb-rich snack: a banana smoothie, a small bowl of porridge or muesli or a banana with a glass of orange juice.

Does caffeine give me energy?

Caffeine can improve your running performance, yes. The caffeine from a coffee, tea or energy drink takes about an hour to be its most effective. Just 2-3 mg / kilogram body weight can make a difference. Closer to your training time, you could chew on caffeine gum for a quick boost.


“For most runners,” explains Anja, “a workout of less than an hour doesn’t need extra carbs. But that, of course, depends on the intensity of the training and the environmental conditions. If you have an intense training session, you can grab a yellow banana, energy bars or gels, if you need it. Dried fruit is a great snack for some people – try it out! It’s all about figuring out what works for you.”

It’s the same with liquid – preferably sports drinks. Work out what feels comfortable for you, so your stomach isn’t sloshing around. You don’t want to feel overfilled with liquid. Around 400 – 800 ml per hour is a good amount but test it out for your body’s tolerance and sweat loss.


After exercise, it’s simple: refuel, repair, rehydrate.

Refuel your energy stores with carbs, repair your muscles with protein and rehydrate your body with lost fluids and electrolytes.

Recipe: Anja’s post-run recovery shake

Mix reduced-fat milk, low-fat yogurt or quark, bananas, berries, oatmeal and a little honey. Blend well. Drink.

Alternative carb boosts

  • 500 ml of banana milk
  • 200 g fruit yoghurt with a sports bar
    • ideally with a sports drink or water

Post-training meal

After your cooldown and stretch, cooking a healthy meal is great for refueling – and relaxing! Alongside a protein-rich chicken fillet, pile a third or half of the plate with your favorite carbohydrates to replenish your energy stores and a stack of immunity-rich vegetables. With it, drink a good glass of water to help your body absorb the salts and nutrients in the meal – you don’t necessarily need a sports drink at this point.

H2O & Co

Hydration before, during and after exercise is a vital part of your nutrition. How much fluid your body needs is influenced by temperature, length of training, humidity, altitude and sweat loss, among other factors.

Because everyone’s fluid loss is so different, focus on getting to know your own using a sweat test. How much you sweat determines the amount of fluid you need to replenish to stay hydrated.

The sweat test

  1. Before training, weigh yourself in your underwear
  2. Do your normal training session
  3. After training, weigh yourself in your underwear

Result: The difference between the first and second weight tells you the amount of fluid lost. If you want to be very precise, you could add the amount of fluid you drank to your weight difference.

Recover 150% of lost fluids in the hours after exercise.

The Wings for Life World Run RACE DAY

By now, you should know your body and diet well, but here are a few tricks to help you get the best out of your body and boost your performance.

1 to 2 days before the run

Increase your carbs and reduce your fiber intake to avoid stomach problems. This is carbohydrate loading, which you may have heard of: eating as many carbs as possible in meals, snacks and drinks 36 to 48 hours before the competition.

1 day before the run

Prep all your food and drink, so on Sunday you can focus 100% on your race. Have your meal plan ready and eat meals you know your body performs well with – this is not a time to try something new!

3 to 4 hours before the run

As a global event, the Wings for Life World Run is in all time zones, so everyone’s last large meal before the run is different. With this last meal, you’re loading your glycogen stores and hydrating your body.

In Austria, the race starts at 1:00 pm, so you need a high-carb breakfast, maybe muesli with bananas and milk, plus a smoothie. A large bowl of porridge with fruit or a sandwich with low-fat ham and cheese would also work – and remember some fruit juice and water.

1 to 2 hours before the run

Snack time! If you know your body is OK with it, you could have a bit of rice or pasta. There’s always the classic banana with energy bar combination, too. A carbohydrate shake is ideal if you’re on your way to a Flagship Run start line or warming up at an App Run Event. Shakes are easy to make, and, as liquids, can be easier to digest and tolerate. 

Get your nutrition sorted and you’ll have a fantastic Wings for Life World Run! You’re running for those who can’t! We’re so proud of every kilometer you cover!