Whether you enjoy running as a hobby or you’re training for a marathon, what you eat after your run is just as important as the run itself. While it’s easy to grab processed options after your run, like protein bars and sports drinks, refueling with fresh foods can be just as simple and satisfying — and they offer a variety of added benefits for your body.
Need some inspiration on quick and healthy foods to jumpstart your recovery? Read on to learn the top recovery foods and when to eat them.
The Importance of Recovery Foods
Much emphasis is always placed on what to eat before you head out on the trail or the treadmill, but what you eat after a run is just as important. Here are some benefits of post-run nutrition:
- Repair micro-tears in your muscles to speed up recovery
- Replace electrolytes and minerals lost through sweat
- Replenish the glycogen stores in your liver and muscles
When’s the Best Time To Eat After a Run?
There’s an optimal recovery window, about 30 to 45 minutes after exercise when your blood pressure and heart rate are elevated. Your body absorbs nutrients faster and more efficiently in this recovery window.
If you ran over an hour, you should aim for 10 to 20 grams of protein within 30 minutes of finishing your workout. Don’t forget to replenish your glucose stores with about 0.23 grams of carbs per pound of body weight.
Best Running Recovery Foods
Skip the protein bar and sports drink and make yourself a healthy post-run snack that will leave you full of energy and help your body recover important nutrients.
Did you know that a single egg provides about 10% of daily protein needs? Not only that, but it’s a versatile ingredient that promotes muscle recovery and gives you a boost of vitamin K, which is vital for healthy bones. Make yourself a veggie omelet or scrambled eggs with cheese to jumpstart your recovery.
2. Nut Butter or Homemade Trail Mix
Nuts are filled with fats and minerals that help you refuel after a long run. Try wheat toast with nut butter or make your own trail mix, adding in walnuts for anti-inflammatory, heart-healthy omega 3s. Throw in pistachios for added protein and almonds for vitamin E — an antioxidant that boosts circulation. If you enjoy a sweet and salty combination, add some raisins to your trail mix and enjoy the benefits of potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium and other electrolytes that help your recover quickly.
3. Chocolate Milk
Compared to regular milk, water or sports drinks, chocolate milk contains double the carbohydrate content, which aids in muscle recovery. It has a high water content that helps you recuperate electrolytes you lost through sweat on your run. Chocolate milk is filled with bone-building calcium, as well as carbs, protein, vitamin D, and sugar which help you regain energy.
4. Cottage Cheese With Fruits
Cottage cheese is an excellent source of protein and calcium, both vital for muscle recovery and bone health. One cup of cottage cheese offers 28 grams of protein and 16% of the daily value of calcium needed. It is also high in sodium which helps replenish those electrolytes you lost during your run. For a yummy post-workout snack, fix yourself cottage cheese with fresh berries for additional antioxidants and vitamins that boost your energy.
5. Beet Salad
Rich in nutrients, low in calories and a great source of hunger-controlling fiber, beets are a great addition to any post-run salad. Beets are rich in nitric acid, which is an important molecule for blood vessel health. Studies have shown that beets and other nitrate-rich vegetables can increase running performance and delay running fatigue. Add beets to your salad along with some fruit for a delicious and refreshing recovery meal. If you need a little more sustenance after your run, add some protein like a hard-boiled egg or chickpeas.
Helping You Recover With Compassionate Care
By eating the right foods after you work out, you can ensure that your muscles and bones are healthy to keep you running for a long time. If you feel pain when you run or injure yourself on a daily jog, we’re here to help you recover and get back on the trail safely. Whether you’re an elite athlete or coping with a recent injury or chronic condition, we’ll work with you and for you to create an individualized sports medicine or rehabilitation plan to get you back to the activities that fuel your life.