After a hard session of pounding the pavement, most of us are guilty of the same things. We crash on the sofa, check our pace and distance statistics, then drag ourselves to the shower. It’s easy to forget about eating something nutritious afterward.
Refueling your body is important, especially after running. Without effective nutrition, your muscles may break down instead of becoming stronger. So, to stop this from happening, just what should you eat after a run?
Benefits of Refueling After A Run
Rather than focusing on what they eat after a run, most runners concentrate on eating carbs before they head out of the door. After logging some miles, it can also be tempting to sit back and relax. However, if you don’t refuel effectively after a run, this can be harmful to your body.
Running uses up a lot of energy. During a workout, small tears occur in your muscles. The right nutrition will repair your muscles so that they get stronger. Running also uses carbohydrates stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver.
The right foods can reload these stores and can also replace any electrolytes or minerals that were lost through sweat. Post-run nutrition is important to keep the body in good condition.
What Nutrients Are Needed After A Run?
After your workout, you need to eat foods that consist of carbohydrates, protein, electrolytes, and fluids.
Carbohydrates: This is the most important nutrient that should be replaced after a run. You need to eat foods with carbohydrates to replace the glycogen that you have lost. This will make sure that your body can cope with your next running session. Without carbohydrates, your glycogen stores will be depleted, putting you at a greater risk of injury.
Protein: Protein is important for muscle growth, as it repairs the micro-tears in muscles that have happened after a run. Protein is also important If you aren’t eating enough carbohydrates, as it can encourage the muscles to take in carbohydrates.
Electrolytes and Fluids: Sodium chloride and potassium are lost through sweat. They need to be replaced as they influence the body to take in more fluid. Without effective hydration, your body can’t convert carbohydrates to glycogen easily.
How Much Of These Nutrients Should I Eat?
After a run, most people need to eat a 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein. This is known to be a good ratio when prioritizing recovery. However, the amount you need to eat depends on how long and how hard you have been running.
After a long hard run: If you’ve been running longer or harder, your body needs more fuel to recover. Within the first 30 minutes post-workout, it’s recommended that you consume 1.2 grams of carbs for every kilogram of body weight. Every two to three hours afterward, take in 1.2 grams of carbs and 0.4 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. Plan your meals around these guidelines, making sure that your macros roughly match these measurements.
After short easy runs: You still have to eat after a short workout. Consume 1.2 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight after your run, then 1.2 grams of carbs and 0.4 grams of protein in your meals that day. Half these guidelines for any snacks, to 0.6 grams of carbs and 0.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight.
When Should I Refuel?
Snacks After A Run: If your run was challenging and you won’t have a meal for a few hours, have a snack within the first 30 minutes after your run. The 30-minute rule also applies if you’ve had an easy session, but will be running again within 12 hours. For example, if you’ve run at 7 pm, but are planning a morning run at 6 am the next day, have a snack 30 minutes after your first run to fuel you for the morning.
Meals After A Run: If your run was easy and you won’t be working out within the next 12 hours, your next meal will be enough to refuel your body. The 30-minute rule doesn’t apply here, but do make sure that your meal has enough carbs and protein for effective recovery.
The Best Recovery Foods To Eat After A Run
You now know what nutrients your body needs after a run and why. If you’re stuck for ideas of what to eat, keep reading. Here are some of the best foods to eat after a run that will help your body recover.
Your muscles break down during a workout, so protein is essential to make them strong again. Greek Yogurt contains more protein than traditional varieties. It’s also easy to grab when you’re tired after a run. Remember that flavored ones can contain large amounts of sugar, so opt for plain versions instead.
Nut butters are good sources of protein and healthy fats. These jars of butter are also great sources of vitamins. Peanut butter is packed with B vitamins, while almond butter is full of Vitamin E.
If you’re aiming for 3:1 carbs to protein ratio, try a medium apple with a tablespoon of peanut butter, or 2 slices of wholemeal toast with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter.
Believe it or not, chocolate milk is a great snack to have after a run. It’s full of carbs, protein, electrolytes, and fluids needed to refuel your body. However, some varieties can be full of sugar. Always check the label when buying, or make it yourself so you know exactly what’s going into your body.
Eggs are full of protein needed for effective recovery. Make sure that you have them with a good carb source to refuel your glycogen stores. Try them on top of some toast, or mix them into a vegetable stir fry with some brown rice.
If you find it difficult to eat after a run, a shake can be a convenient way to get in some protein. You can have it by itself, but if you want to refuel your carbohydrate stores, try mixing some protein powder into a banana smoothie, or with some dairy milk if you aren’t hungry.
It’s important to eat after a run so that your body can recover efficiently. Make sure that you eat foods with the right carbs, protein, electrolytes, and fluids to refuel. Try some of the foods listed above, and always remember to drink enough water to keep hydrated.