Every runner knows the joys of carbo-loading before a big run, but very few are well versed on what foods to eat after a run. Eating shortly after a run can reduce the possibility of muscle stiffness or soreness. 

Restore Your Fluids

tea, coffee
Lila Seeley

After a long run, especially one outside, you’ll have lost a lot of fluids. The first thing that you should do after finishing your run is to make sure that you replenish your body with fluids. Drinking water or a sports drink that contains electrolytes should be your number one priority.

Eat Up

sandwich, bread, cheese
Ashleigh Monaco

If it is possible, you want to eat something within one hour of the end of your run. The goal of this meal is to replace the lost carbohydrates, fluids and proteins that were used up during your workout.

After rehydrating your body, you need to focus on carbohydrates. Carbs are the body’s main source of fuel, but they should not be the only component of your post-run meal. Experts say that a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein (4 grams of carbohydrates for every one gram of protein) is the most beneficial makeup of a post-run meal.

Keep It Simple

cereal, bread, wheat, rye, flour, wheat bread, grain
Jasmine Chan

It’s important to remember when putting together your meal that simple carbohydrates are going to be the best option. The closer that carbohydrates are to their simplest form, glucose, the easier they will be to break down and use as fuel. This means that you will want to stick to foods like potatoes, whole wheat pastas, rice and whole wheat breads to refuel your body.

The Power of Protein

Protein, salmon fillet, fish, seafood, salmon
Jocelyn Hsu

During the initial few hours after a run, it is imperative to restore glycogen and repair muscles; this is where protein comes into play. According to BBC, 20 grams of protein is the ideal amount to be eating after a workout. Eating 20 grams of protein after a workout optimizes the recovery process and helps avoid muscle soreness the following day.

It is best to stick to lean and light when it comes to protein. Stay away from fatty meats or red meats as they are bad for your health and are known to cause more weight gain. Stick to protein options such as fish, chicken, and turkey.

Decisions, Decisions ...

It can be difficult to actively think through what you eat after a run, I get it, you’re just SO hungry. However, it is very important to make the most of your post-run meal.

Here is a list of some easy to make options that will optimize the results of your eating:

- Turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread

- Eggs and whole wheat toast

- Salad with lean protein (chicken or fish)

- Carrots and hummus

- Clif Bar

- Tuna fish sandwich on whole wheat bread

- Apple/banana with peanut butter

- Greek yogurt