What Should I Eat After a Run?

Healthy Citrus Orange Smoothie Drink
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"Do I need to eat something after a run?"

After running, especially a long run, you want to replenish energy as quickly as possible. Studies have shown that muscles are most receptive to rebuilding glycogen (stored glucose) stores within the first 30 minutes after exercise. If you eat soon after your workout, you can minimize muscle stiffness and soreness.

You'll want to consume primarily carbs, but don't ignore protein.

A good rule of thumb for post-run food is a ratio of 1 gram of protein to 3 grams of carbs. Carbs in the form of glucose are the easiest to break down and be used as fuel. So high-glycemic index foods like potatoes, pasta, bread, and rice are good choices for refueling muscles. Pair one of those foods with a protein such as lean chicken or turkey breast (3 oz.), salmon (3 oz.), or a large egg and you've got yourself a solid post-run recovery meal. Check out these quick lunch options for some ideas.

Of course, you may not always have the time or energy to prepare a meal after a run. Nutrition bars, such as Clif bars, Kind bars, or Power bars, are convenient, healthy options. Look for bars that have the 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein. Other examples of quick nutrient replacement would be a bagel with peanut butter, a protein shake, a banana and yogurt,a fruit and yogurt smoothie. (Get recipes for delicious post-run smoothies.)

If you feel like you can't stomach solid food immediately after a run, try drinking some chocolate milk. Chocolate milk provides plenty of protein, carbohydrates and B vitamins —- making it a great recovery drink. And cold chocolate milk tastes pretty refreshing after a run.

Rehydration is Important, Too

Don't forget to rehydrate with water or a sports drink after your run.

If your urine is dark yellow after your run, you need to keep rehydrating. It should be a light lemonade color.

Don't Overdo It

While it's important to eat something and replenish fluids after a run, be careful that you don't overindulge and consume way more calories than you need. It's tempting to eat everything in sight after a long run because you're thinking about the hundreds of calories that you burned. Consuming some protein is key because it will help you curb the post-run hungries. Get more tips on how to control post-run cravings.

More on Post-Run Recovery:

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