They say we are what we eat. But when you’ve run for an hour and you come back, cooking isn’t really a priority. Imagine just a second. You come back home after your session, you feel fine. You ran well and you made a good performance. But running like this will probably work up quite an appetite! The problem is that you are tired after your run. Too lazy to eat the right food.
You are so exhausted and are not brave enough to get out of your sofa to cook. You’re really hungry though. You notice that your smartphone is within reach, you grasp it. And here it is, the irreparable: you’re ordering a pizza. And you really enjoy it. The only problem is that you not only devour as many calories as you’ve just burnt with your run, but in addition you are ruining your recovery time. Ouch.
Don’t worry though, this kind of situation is extremely rare. Nevertheless, there are some “rules” that must be respected in order to optimize your recovery time by eating the right things after a run. I assume that some of the food I am going to quote can seem unappetizing but I will give you some tips to make them taste as good as they feel for your body.
Without further ado, here is what you should eat after a run… Let’s go!
A little reminder on the importance of recovery time
Let’s make things clear: the post-run nutrition is very important. It must allow you not only to improve your performances, but also to recover well in order to avoid aches such as cramps, soreness, etc. that could become hinders to your next runs.
Actually, the nutrition is an integral part of the training, hence the importance taking good habits fast. Moreover, building your running planning according to what you are going to eat after each run and at what time, will allow you to, among other things:
- Have better performances
- Reduce the risk of injury
- Maximize your results.
If you skip a meal after a run, you risk having hypoglycaemia for the rest of the day, or even becoming nauseous. You also increase the risk of getting hurt during the following session. Not really enticing.
Don’t worry, I will give you all the necessary elements to recover as quickly as possible. The key to optimize at best your recovery time is to adapt your post-run lunch according to the kind of training you’re going to do. After a short run, you should ideally eat your snack or your lunch one hour maximum after the workout. Prefer food full of carbohydrates, proteins or of electrolyte (such as vegetables), so that your muscles will quickly regenerate.
If you went for a speed work training, you should eat half an hour after the run. The priority is to supply as fast as possible the muscles with lipids (a toast with some butter), carbohydrates (pasta), and proteins (eggs) to recover in the best way.
Finally, after a long run, like with the speed work, you have to take a snack within the 30min following your run: you must ingest at least 200 calories and if possible, eat an avocado or nuts (which reduce inflammations caused by the continuous trampling). You should have your lunch an hour after the run and have a little snack every two hours, to recover in the best conditions.
If you have knots in your stomach, wait at least an hour before eating: allow your body some time to rest. Wait until you get hungry for lunch.
Another critical point of your recovery time -you know it, I often speak about it- it is hydration. Essential, it must be regular (as you know before, during and after the run), in order to avoid dehydration. Drink, even if you don’t feel the need to. Here is a little tip: drink 15cl for every 15mn of run! If you are thirsty, it means it’s already too late.
For the post-race, I advise you to drink Saint Yorre, full of sodium, which allows to recover the quantity you’ve lost during the race and to decrease the lactic acid rate, induced by the effort. You can also go for sugar water (water with honey), in order to replenish your carbohydrate’s stock. You have to drink it one hour after the race!
Now, you have the basis of nutrition, but you still don’t know what to eat…
What should I eat?
Once again, you have to pay attention to the timing before eating after a run. At the end of the race, your body has to feed in order to replenish its energy reserves. This is what we called “metabolic window”: this is the moment when the body will absorb food faster and easier than usual. This phenomenon is really important because it will allow you to recover faster and to decrease the rigidity and the aches in the muscles. So what do we eat? A lot of things in fact!
You have to go for food simultaneously good and useful on a nutritional point of view. You can eat without any guilt:
- Slow sugars (potatoes, rice, pasta…),
- Proteins (scrambled eggs, lentil, white meat…)
- Fast release sugars (honey, bananas, dry fruits…)
You can also combine carbohydrates and proteins for a more efficient recovery time, as it helps the assimilation of glucose in the muscles and the reinforcement of the muscle fibres, damaged by the run.
You also must take into account the importance of snacking, which improves recovery time. Actually, during a race, you lose glucose, water, minerals and the muscles suffer from micro tears. When you eat something after the race, it allows you to replace the nutrients lost and to restore a physiological balance (this is what we called homeostasis), vital for the recovery time. You will also be able to repair the muscle fibres, aching by the run and to decrease the acidity accumulated in the body. Nothing but positive results!
The Digitsole Team really want to see you improving your performances, this is why I’m going to list you the best food for the best recovery time ever.
The food you have to eat for an efficient recovery time
You may have guessed it, the post run lunch aims at filling the organism with a lot of good things, in order to compensate the lost energy. Here is a little selection of the best food to use up to quickly go back for another round!
- Oat flakes, especially cherished by marathoners. They contain everything you need: carbohydrates, proteins and fibres. Perfect to satisfy your hunger and to decrease the cholesterol rate! Here is a little tip: you can mix them with fruits for extra flavour.
- Greek yoghourts: full of proteins, you can eat it with honey, almonds and fruits. Tasty and efficient.
- Hummus (mash of chickpea and sesame): ideal to be filled up with proteins and to unwind yourself.
- Turkey breast, full of proteins and easy to cook. You can enjoy it with rice and vegetables.
- Salmon: full of omega-3 and of antioxidants which allow the body to “rest”. You can eat it with pasta, olive oil and asparaguses for an efficient meal.
- Energy bars: very useful, there is one for every taste!
- Bananas. This is THE driving force of the athletes and THE basis of the post run lunch. You can eat them alone, in a smoothie, with almond milk, honey, cocoa powder…
- Fruits: most of the fruits are efficient for a post run snack. You can go for blueberries, grapes, oranges, apples… It can not only satisfy your hunger but it also contains a lot of antioxidants, which can delay Alzheimer’s disease!
- Almonds: this is THE current trend. They can decrease the cholesterol rate in your blood! You can eat it alone or in a salad, with pasta or mixed in a yoghourt.
- Finally, the Award of the best post-run food goes to vegetables. They are full of antioxidants, carbohydrates, vitamins… You can eat them without hesitation in a salad, a sandwich with wholemeal bread or alone… There are plenty of recipes to eat your veggies, each as efficient as the last.
You can also go for starches, in order to re-boost your muscles, such as pasta, rice, steamed carrots, cereals, wheat germs… But I preferred to expound on this kind of food, which really are the most appropriate for a strong post-run lunch. These awesome food have, just like super heroes, their Nemesis, some food you must avoid at all cost if you don’t want to ruin all your work. I’ll ask you to ABSOLUTELY avoid eating red meat, anything fried, and dishes in sauce, cheese and chocolate that delay recovery time and that are full of fats.
Recovery time: an essential step to refill one’s lost energy
This is the period that allows you to replenish your energy as quickly as possible for your next run.
Throughout the article, I advised you to eat within 30mn after your session. Nevertheless, you may sometimes feel a bit bloated after the effort or completely exhausted, which can have an impact on your appetite. If even after two hours you are not capable of eating something solid, there are solutions. In order to avoid skipping a meal after a run, I can only recommend you to turn to liquids. Among all of these friendly drinks for a post run snack, you can have Saint Yorre without moderation, sugar water, a good hot chocolate or even preparing a tasty vegetables soup!
One last tip for you: eating after a race is good. Abusing of it, isn’t. Thus, be careful not to overeat or not to consume too much calories if you don’t want to ruin all the efforts made during your session! To avoid huge post session cravings and to prevent you from emptying your whole fridge, eat carbohydrates -it will act as an appetite suppressant, which will allow you to feed yourself without excess!
This article is now finished, I hope it made you hungry!
And you, what do you eat after a run?
See you soon you running maniacs!