You just finished a long run, and you feel ready to take a break. But, your body is still hard at work even after you cross that finish line. Muscles and other organs use this time to repair and rebuild. One of the best ways for you to assist this recovery process is with a healthy post workout meal. Foods with the right nutrients can help give your body the energy it needs to recover. Read below to find out what to eat after a run.
What Happens During A Long Run?
Running engages many of your body’s muscles — and all of them require energy to work. This energy comes from stored sugar in the body called glucose. As you run, you deplete those glucose reserves and put strain on your body’s muscles.1
The Importance Of Recovery In Physical Fitness
After a run, your body requires time and energy to regenerate stressed muscles. This period of repair is called recovery. It happens when muscles are mended with proteins and glycogen levels are restored. In order to succeed at this task, your body needs fuel. The best way to supply that is with nutritious and healthy food.2
What To Eat After A Run For Recovery
Your post-run meals should consist largely of carbohydrates and proteins. That means whole grain breads, cereals, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and eggs. The protein from food works to repair and build muscles exercised during the run. And, carbs are crucial for restoring your depleted glycogen levels.3
The Best Time To Eat After A Long Run
Just as important as what you eat is when you eat. You have a rather small nutritional window in which to replenish those required nutrients. Try to eat your post workout meal within about 30 minutes after you run. This may help keep your blood sugar levels and hunger under control.4
Replenishing What You Lose: Delicious Food To Eat After A Run
Tony Horton considers what you do after a run to be nearly as important as the run itself. Part of his recommended post-run regimen includes eating nutrient-dense foods. Below are a few of his go-to meals and foods for after a run. They’re all designed with recovery and flavor in mind.
Beets are great to have on standby in the fridge. You can throw them in with a fruit smoothie or turn them into a salad. Beets are an excellent source of nitrates, which may help encourage muscle recovery.5
Yogurt And Fruit
This winning combo brings together two crucial ingredients — proteins and carbs. Greek yogurt is a high-quality source of protein that may help support muscle gain.6 One study even found that the combination of yogurt and exercise may help support mood and heart health.7
Fresh fruits, like berries and bananas, have antioxidants and carbohydrates. Both are stars on the muscle recovery team.8
Apples And Peanut Butter
This is a great recovery snack that you can take on the (metaphoric) run with you. Apples can replenish those lowered glycogen stores. Peanut butter is a good source of protein, which gets turned into amino acids that your body uses for the repair process.9,10
Energy bars may be a good option if you don’t have much time to spend in the kitchen. Keep in mind that snacks are not a substitute for a balanced meal. But, they can be used to support training. Just make sure to check the ingredients list. It’s generally best to avoid any recovery bars that have added sugar or artificial sweeteners.11
Grilled Chicken With Veggies
This is a total meal designed to help replenish what you burned during your run and add extra layers of nutrition. Chicken, a lean protein source, has lots of D-aspartic acid — which may help with muscle tissue recovery. Vegetables like broccoli, kale, and sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamins and nutrients that help with things like bone health. Plus, they give that lonely chicken breast some tasty company on the plate.12,13
Foods To Avoid After A Run
Post-workout hungries may lead you to stray from healthy food choices. But, you probably don’t want to waste the whole workout by overloading on the wrong foods. Try to avoid high fat foods that may slow down digestion or salty foods that might lower your potassium levels.14
Path To Hydration: What To Drink After A Run
The energy you create while running turns into heat which warms your body. Your body then responds with sweat to cool off. All that sweat is water leaving your body, and it needs to be replaced to prevent dehydration. Water and hydration are important for recovery, as they work to nourish your cells, carry food, regulate temperature, and lubricate your joints.15
Plain water will always be the number one drink for rehydrating. But, there are a few other beverages that you can drink to help replenish what you lost after a run. These drinks aren’t substitutes for water, but you can drink them as supplements toward recovery.16
Whey Protein Drinks
Of all the protein shakes available, whey can be a great choice for run recovery. Your body digests and quickly absorbs the protein in these drinks. This gives your muscles a quick hit of amino acids to spur on muscle recovery.17
Boost Replenishment With Supplements
You may be able to add an extra layer of recovery to your post-run nutrition with certain supplements. Tony Horton’s own workouts often benefit from a few key supplements.
This carotenoid occurs naturally in many marine life forms. Scientists speculate it’s what gives salmon the endurance to swim upstream. As a supplement for humans, it acts as an antioxidant which may help support energy levels and post-exercise comfort.18
ElevATP is a blend of ancient peat and apple extract. Some studies have shown that it may help support muscle development and energy.19,20
Make The Kitchen Your New Finish Line
Your workout doesn’t need to end when you finish your run. Your body is still hard at work, and it needs energy to help replenish what was lost. You can assist this recovery with the best natural fuel around — healthy foods.
Foods high in protein and carbohydrates may help your body recover by restoring muscles. Double down on this recovery process with some of Tony Horton’s preferred supplements. A proper recovery may help keep you in those running shoes longer. So, after you cross that finish line, keep going until you get to the fridge.