The Truth About Post-Run Snacks
So you have just finished up your run and if you are anything like I am, you may be experiencing a multitude of emotions. Usually, I am tired, happy that the workout has been completed, and often I have the Rungries.
What Are The Rungries?
Is that an unfamiliar term to you? Look more closely. See the play on words there? The “Rungries” are where you end a run and are super famished. Sometimes the Rungries cause us to make less than stellar food choices in the moments after concluding a workout.
One of the big mistakes many athletes make is in thinking that since they have just run “XXX amount of miles,” they have earned a fat fest.
Sure, you work hard so you can play hard, which may include enjoying fun things such as pizza or cake. However, if you are not careful, you can very quickly consume more calories than you have just burned.
There is a popular phrase used within the running community that you cannot outrun a bad diet.
The 30-Minute Rule
Post-workout, you should try to get food into your body within the first 30 minutes after you finish.
Some people experience nausea that makes eating difficult for them. If you are one of those people, I get it. We will talk about that next.
In order to help your body get into the best position to heal and recuperate from a challenging workout, you need to be mindful of what you take in and when.
Often people ask me what to eat after a run.
What is the Best Thing to Eat After a Run?
To boost recovery, you should be taking in food that incorporates both protein and carbohydrates. Both of these are important to improve recovery, help stimulate muscles and be sure these are ready for the next workout. Proper recovery can enhance your performance.
During very hot weather, I struggle with taking in food right after a long run or tough workout. For these occasions, I keep protein shakes on hand. There are many protein shakes that are specially formulated to have that right balance of just what your body needs. Nothing hits the spot quite like an ice-cold blended shake!
If I am workout out at a gym and may not be able to head right home, a protein bar is another good option. Some of those are also formulated to be great for recovery. Although I prefer real food options. that is not always easy to manage or carry around.
Portable food options you can throw in your gym bag include graham crackers with peanut butter, a bagel with some kind of cheese and/or meat on it, or apple slices with nut butter. These are all things you can make up ahead of time and easily eat on the go, even while driving.
When I am home and I know that I can have more food at my disposal, some of my favorite post-workout food is real food. I might cook a couple of extra chicken breasts to have on hand. Some cold chicken with mixed fruit sits really well as a light, small meal after completing a workout. Grilled chicken with roasted veggies is another great choice if you are interested in having a real meal to aid in your recovery.
Cottage cheese and fruit is another choice I often turn to. It is easy to digest, light enough not to interfere with an upcoming meal, and really hits the spot for me!
What Not to Do After Running
There are also some things you should not do post-run. Resist grabbing something that is full of empty calories that won’t serve your body in a positive way.
Poor choices are pizza or cake. If you have followed my writing for any length of time, you are familiar with my “I ran 22 miles and devoured an entire cake after” story. In my defense, it was a small cake…. Having said that, I began to have a post-long run meal plan readily formulated in my head.
If you experience post-workout nausea, don’t eat too soon. As mentioned before, you can think about having something very small, or even liquid replenishment such as a protein shake.
However, you can’t delay the meal too long if you want to reap the recovery benefits. The ideal is to take in the protein and carb within 45 minutes. You absolutely should not stretch it longer than two hours.
How Long Should I Wait to Eat After Running?
Although there are rules about how quickly you need to eat, there is no clear direction on how quickly you can eat post-run. You know why? Because every person’s body is different.
I have seen friends belly up to the bait pile piling in pizza right after running a half or full marathon. My body could not process that. I can, however, easily eat a bagel or banana right after a run.
My friend Casey, on the other hand, gets nauseous watching me eat after we race. It does not matter what they are offering up in the post-race line, she does not eat it. Give her an hour or so and she is ready to roll. Not before.
What if you are like that, super nauseous and really struggling to choke something down? My tried and true recommendation for them is chocolate milk. If you can get nothing else into your body, that alone will aid in recovery.
Top 7 Food Mistakes Runners Make Post Run
- Waiting too long to eat.
- Grazing in the refrigerator or pantry.
- Sugary sports drinks.
- More protein than they need.
- Overdoing the sugary snacks.
- Grabbing a smoothie… that lacks protein.
- Happy Hour instead of real fuel.
Whatever your goals are, you need to be smart about fueling. Notice I changed the wording there to call it fuel instead of food. When we think about food as fuel, especially in reference to pre, during and post-workout, we have shifted our own mindset toward one that empowers us to make better choices.
Doing the work on the track but not following through by putting your body in the best position to recover is not the way you want to operate!