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Best Foods To Eat After A Run (Tips From 5 Experts)

What are the best foods to eat after a run? We asked a group of experts to give us their top tips when it comes to post-run recovery

Best Food To Eat After A Run
(Photo: Adobe Stock)

What’s the best food to eat after a run?

We asked a selected group of fitness and nutrition experts to share their top tips when it comes to the best foods to eat after a run.

Here’s what they said.

Protein And Carbs Are Key – And Don’t Forget To Hydrate

Jordan Duncan, Owner of Silverdale Sport and Spine

As it pertains to nutrition after a run, the goal is to replenish depleted glycogen stores, provide the necessary nutrients for protein and collagen synthesis, and to consume enough fluids to counteract hydration losses.

It is important to eat a meal in the first 30 minutes after a run.

Glycogen, the substance located in the liver and muscles as a store of carbohydrates and fuel for energy during exercise, has a repletion rate of 50 per cent greater than normal during this time. Therefore, easily digestible and absorbable healthy carbohydrates are ideal.

Protein is valuable in order to promote muscle repair, and should be consumed in this meal. Some post-run foods that meet these criteria include oatmeal, bananas, cooked carrots, organic juices, healthy cereals, chicken, fish, and protein shakes.

You should shoot for one gram of carbohydrate per kilogram of bodyweight, which amounts to 50-100 grams in most people. The ideal ratio of carbohydrates to protein in the post-run meal should be 3:1.

Adequate hydration is very important to replenish fluids lost during a run. The best way to know how much to consume is to weigh yourself before and after running to calculate your fluid loss.

Over time, you will be able to determine much weight you typically lose during runs. A loss of one kilogram is equal to one liter of fluid.

Once you have this number, you should aim to drink the equivalent of 1.5 times this fluid deficit within four hours of running.

Therefore, if you lost two kilograms throughout your run, you should drink three liters of fluid. During this time, water and electrolyte-rich drinks are the best.

Woman Running

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Eat Carbohydrates And Protein Within 45 Minutes Of Your Run

Rima Kleiner, MS, RD from Dish On Fish

It’s important to fuel up properly – and quickly – after running or working out to maximize your hard work and for optimal recovery.

Eating a mix of high-fiber carbohydrates and heart-healthy protein within 45 minutes of your workout can help replenish glycogen stores and aid with muscle repair.

If you’re eating a meal, reach for fish (rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3s) over a salad or alongside your favorite veggies and whole grain like brown rice.

If you’re more in the mood for a snack, reach for a hydrating smoothie made with fiber-rich fruit and protein that also contains probiotics like kefir or yogurt, nut butter or handful of nuts and piece of fruit or half a tuna sandwich on whole wheat bread.

Look for a mix of fiber-rich carbohydrates-like vegetables, fruit and whole grains-and heart-healthy proteins like seafood, yogurt or kefir, beans, nuts, seeds and nut/seed butter, many of which also contain anti-inflammatory properties.

Ideal post-run meals and snacks include a mix of carbohydrates (like fiber- and antioxidant-rich vegetables and/or fruits and whole grains, such as brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, whole grain bread or pasta) and heart-healthy protein (like salmon or tuna, shrimp, kefir or yogurt, beans, nuts, seeds, nut or seed butter, eggs, low-fat dairy or lean poultry or beef).

Some favorite post-run snacks are half a tuna sandwich, fruit smoothie with kefir or almond butter, whole grain toast topped with peanut butter and banana slices, trail mix or a hard-boiled egg with a piece of fruit.

Some favorite post-run meals include oatmeal topped with berries and walnuts, avocado toast topped with smoked salmon, egg and spinach tacos, grilled salmon or chicken and veggies with brown rice, quinoa bowl with veggies and canned tuna or salmon or a veggie and grain bowl topped with beans and avocado.

Running Race

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

It Depends On The Intensity Of Your Run

Lisa Richards, Nutritionist and Author of The Candida Diet

After any workout, the body needs to be refuelled with carbohydrates and protein.

The intensity of the workout will determine how much of these macronutrients you need.

After a light workout, you should eat a light carb and high protein meal because you probably haven’t depleted your glycogen stores in significant amounts.

After a strenuous workout, both need to be restored fairly well and this can be a carb/protein snack with a ratio of 40/60 depending on your goals.

A post-workout snack does not have to, and shouldn’t, be high calorie. A snack that provides around 100, nutrient-dense, calories is ideal.

During a workout, you have used some of your body’s energy stores, which was the goal, but now they should be replaced.

This energy storage being used is primarily glycogen, stored carbs, which need to be replenished.

After a workout your body is also getting to work on rebuilding the muscle that was broken down during exercise.

For these two reasons, protein and carbohydrates are important to consume post-workout to prevent muscle breakdown and replenish glycogen stores.


(Photo: Adobe Stock)

It All Comes Down To Your Specific Situation

Joey Thurman, kuudose Founding Celebrity Trainer and Fitness Expert

When it comes to your workouts, they are only as good as how you recover! If you’re a runner, this is especially true and is contextually based.

What are your physical goals, aesthetic goals, how far did you run, and what intensity did you run at?

You see, these all have to be considered and are often overlooked, but let’s look at some generalities here.

Did you eat an hour or two before your run? If you had a meal with protein and carbohydrates and your run didn’t last that long, it’s likely that your meal – and the amino acids from that meal – are still providing your body with nutrients.

Now if this is the case, you don’t need to chug a protein shake or meal immediately after your run, you can simply wait until your next meal.

Did you run in the morning on an empty stomach? If so, then you will most likely want to get a meal with at least 20 grams of protein pretty close to finishing your run to start the repairing process within your body. You can have some carbs in it depending on your aesthetic goals and performance goals.

This could be as simple as a shake and some fruit, eggs with toast or potatoes, or a bowl of oats and lean protein.

How long was your run? If you are a distance runner, you will want to prioritize (unless you are keto) carbs as your main source of fuel. You may want to do a 3:1 ratio or higher of carbs to protein – but make sure the protein is at least 20 grams.

Choose Something With A 3:1 Carb-To-Protein Ratio

Emily Danckers, Registered Sports Dietitian and Nutrition Coach

After a run, the body needs to recover. It is important to eat something that will jumpstart muscle repair as well as replenish the water, electrolytes, and carbohydrates that were lost or used up during the run.

The best post-run recovery snack includes carbohydrate and protein in a three to one (3:1) ratio. This means that for every three grams of carbs in the snack, there is one gram of protein.

An ideal post-run snack will also include fluid and sometimes electrolytes if it was a very strenuous workout.

Some ideas of post run snacks that fit this three to one carb to protein ratio are:

• Fruit smoothie with protein
• Chocolate milk
• Yogurt parfait
• Peanut butter and jelly sandwich

The perk of drinking a smoothie or chocolate milk for post-run fuel is that they both provide fluid as well as carbs and protein.

No matter what form of post-run fuel you choose, be sure to rehydrate with plenty of water after every run.

Timing is also important when it comes to recovery. Aim to eat your snack within 30 minutes of completing your run.

This is the time when the body is most likely to absorb protein for muscle repair, so make sure you have a post-run fuel plan before you start running.

If eating so quickly after a run is difficult, try drinking your recovery fuel instead in the form of a smoothie or chocolate milk.

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